How much torque on a fitting?

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How much torque can one apply to a fitting, say an anode screwed into a hot water tank, before getting into the area where one needs to be concerned about the integrity of the tank itself?
I suspect that it's new water heater time, or close to it, but I was pleasantly surprised when I removed the anode from another tank of similar age (in the same house) and found it well corroded but not so much that it would indicate that it had been without protection for any length of time. So I'd prefer to simply inspect this one, replace if indicated, and keep on using it if I can, being a cheap bas^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hfrugal person.
I had a 18" long, 1/2" drive breaker bar on it and it was flexing to the point where I was concerned about snapping the bar. (I may or may not have been using an unapproved extension on said bar...) I have a beefier 3/4" drive bar but I'm wondering if a person of average or slightly more than average strength can actually break the tank by doing this.
I've been pretty lucky so far, I've R&R'd two drain spigots, one T&P valve, and one anode without busting anything, as well as R&Ring the spigot and anode on a one year old tank in the garage. This is hopefully the last part I need to break loose to provide me with peace of mind, although you just know that now that I've said that the other T&P valve will fail :(
nate
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get you a 1/2" pneumatic impact. yes, like the ones to take wheels off and on. Turn the air down low (about 50 psi) and use a 6 point socket. Start a rat a tatting on it, slowly turning up the air inthe process. It'll come out. I woudn't worry about the tank bung itself. It's probably one of the thickest parts of the tank.
steve

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I agree with your comments, however I'd have to spin not only the impact, but an air compressor, hose, portable tank, etc. by the finance department... I can see it now "you just want that so you can use it on your silly old car" (um, yeah? so? <G>)
nate
Steve Barker wrote:

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You could try the old manual impact method. With both hands put all the torque you dare on the breaker and with the third hand use a big hammer on the breaker. Can be done 2 handed but not as effective :)
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:

eh, it's done. I just posted in case someone was going to say something like "more than 400 ft-lb and you'll spin the bung right out" and since I didn't get any of those replies, I had at it. Enlisted the girlie to hang onto the pipes while I reefed on it, took a decent sized grunt on my new breaker bar with a 30" piece of pipe slid over it (oops, I just voided my warranty, didn't I?) and busted it loose. Anode looked a little worse than the other one but still didn't indicate that it'd stopped protecting the tank, so I just slid in a new one, did a little cheap bastard happy dance, and turned on the water for another 15 years or so :)
nate
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Excellent! I always like to have my fall back plan figured out if jobs like that go wrong.
My worst panic was the day I twisted off one of the bolts holding the thermostat while installing a freshly completely overhauled motor in my PU. (1962 Chev 6) Only thin original left on it was the block/ camshaft and crank. Carefully drilled dead center for an easy out and busted the drill bit off in the hole just as I was finishing. Much fun with a dental pick before I got that out of there.
Harry K
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reminds me of a funny i did once upon a time. i had the manifold off of a small block chevy and managed to break a t-stat bolt off. I proceeded to drill that sucker all the way through and put a nut on the bottom side. I wish i could have been there for the next som-beach that had to take that bolt out. I laughed for years over that.
s

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Heck, if I put a nut on the underside I probably would have forgotton about it *myself* the next time I tried to take it apart. ;-)
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Ah yes. I totally replaced the plumbing in the basement in this old house. Somehow managed to get the hot and cold lines reversed going to the wash tub (one of those old granit jobs). Told myself "no problem, I'll remember adn I am the only one who will use it" Nope. After dipping my hand into a HOT stream of water twice, I reworked it to be standard.
Harry K
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Yeah, that was "call plumber and tell him to come install new water heater." Credit card was at the ready. I just figured that that was what was going to happen anyway if I didn't inspect the anode, as it was old enough it couldn't be trusted without inspection.

Funny you should use that example. I spent a fun afternoon one day drilling the water manifold mounting bolts out of the front of a Studebaker V-8 after attempting to snug one up to stop a slow leak and finding out that the PO had replaced them all with Grade 2 hardware... at least four of them busted while attempting to remove the water manifold to drill out the first one. I had to pull the fan, shroud, and radiator and then climb in and sit on the front fender while using a 1/2" hand drill. I don't like EZ-outs, I just drilled to the threads and busted the swarf out with a tap. Amazingly enough I didn't have to use a single helicoil. (pats self on back.) Good times.
nate
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Forgot to mention, that same engine ended up getting replaced with a fresh rebuilt Avanti engine (because I could, and the extra HP/torque was too tempting to resist.) Buddy of mine attempted to swap it into a '51 Stude sedan, and it promptly threw a rod. I'd been driving it at (nonspecific high speed) the morning before it was pulled! whew!
nate
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Another low point in my nut-n-bolting. Again it was a water pump. My mom blew hers on a 58 Mercury with full load of all options - it was an old car by then. No, sweat just tow it home, park and go to it. Amazing amound of stuff has to come off that beast to get at the WP. It was the last thing still on the block just before removal.
Replaced, replace this, replace that, etc and an hour later all that remained was the Power Steering pump. Ooops. The first thing to remove on one of those is that which involves down the line removing the tighttening arm - just about the last item. Yep, I had forgotten it.
Oh yes, back to that 62 chev PU. It went through the Mt St Helens ash cloud. When I decided it needed a rebuild was looking back up a mountain road and seeing a blue cloud down the entire grade. I was used to stopping at the bottom and adding a quart but that was embarrassing. Turned out to be bad decision to rebuild instead of a short block though. About a month after the rebuild it cracked in the cam gallery. I found out that my specific run was noted for that. Another block, another bore job and I wound up putting around 2500 into a rig that was only worth about $900.
Harry K
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nice, but I have a question..what kept the whole tank from turning?
thats the nice thing about an impact wrench, the reaction force is absorbed by the inertia..
Mark
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SWMBO holding onto the pipes :)

Indeed... well perhaps the money not spent on a new water heater can go into the "buy my a$$ an air compressor" fund :)
nate
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perhaps rent an electric one then.
s

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Mine was on sale $39.99 at www.harborfreight.com and then about $15 for a small set of black sockets. I used it yesterday to help a friend change a wheel. She had a flat for no visible reason. In her driveway, which sure was convenient. We had electricity nearby.
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For removing the anode, I'd give er full power, Captain!
Replacing anode, clean the external and internal threads with a wire brush. I'd use teflon tape, followed by a coating of Rectorseal #5 on the threads to seal. And then be concerned with torque.
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wrote:

I suppose the teflon tape will be cut through enough the the threads so that there will still be an electrical connection between the anode and the case of the water heater..correct? It needs that to work.
Mark
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My memory is probably wrong, but I remember that the anode is a more reactive metal. So, the electrical connection is irrelevant.
Someone correct me, if my memory is failing.
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

I believe that it does need to be electrically connected to the tank to properly protect it... something with the movement of electrons or something like that. However pipe dope or pipe tape won't interfere with that, the threads will cut through in places enough to make good contact.
nate
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