water heater trapWater heater heat traps help to stop convection heat loss due to circulation of hot water in the pipes above the water heater. New water heaters will come with them installed in the nipples of the tank. They usually work in pairs.

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There are various different designs with some using a ball that travels up or down in the nipple. There are directional arrows on the nipple-type heat traps. When hot water in the tank starts to convect out of the cold nipple, the ball rises to stop the flow.  There are heat traps you can buy for specific water heaters that allow you to remove the supply line from a non-heat trap nipple, and add a plastic flap mechanism that performs the same function. As a side benefit, the plastic part makes for a dielectric connection to prevent galvanic corrosion.

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Finally, you can bend a high loop in your water supply lines at the top of the water heater. For this you will likely need to buy longer copper flex lines. The supply line will come out of the top of the tank rising up past the cold water shut-off valve, bend the line upward and back down without kinking the line and connect it to the valve. It’s always a good idea to insulate the copper flex lines. Typically you only need to insulate the hot outgoing line if you have heat traps as very little hot water should escape from the tank.

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