Quick basic advice on a dripping gas 40-gal hot-water heater

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N8N wrote:

Wholly agree! my principal motor is an '02 Ford Focus 1.8 diesel - yes, I know you don't have that across The Pond. It has just turned 125k miles today and during that time has done 43.3 miles to the US gallon - close to the brochure figure though I can't remember the exact number at this moment. It's been a cracking good motor with little to complain about. If it lives up to the performance of the two Fiesta diesels I've had, it should be good for 250k before I either send it to its maker in the sky or sell it for peanuts.
I gather from recent press comments here in Europe that you are about to be exposed to high quality diesel motors from Europe soon. They are good and do not have the air quality problems that you might associate with diesel trucks. Have you noticed the tightening emission standards for them - both in the US and Europe? Done me proud with shares in Johnson Matthey!
Diesel needs less refining than gas and therefore less energy in production, emits less CO2 per gallon and has higher mpg, plus in real life has more grunt than petrol (gas) units. Go for it!
They also display less variation in mpg between the urban and long distance figures. In case you think I'm grossly biased, I also run a Peugeot 306 petrol and an 07 Peugeot 206cc diesel - now that's a little monster in sheep's clothing - either 115 or 125 bhp in a shopping trolley. Great fun and approx. 45 mp USg. Little too early to call having only done less than 3000 miles as yet.
PS I log all fuel and average over the entire life of the unit.
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If you won't listen to your husband about waiting, why would you pay any attention to us?
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On Mon, 11 Feb 2008 16:44:15 -0500, ng_reader wrote:

You can decide if it's credible but a counter argument to tankless home water heater selection is here
http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/the-right-hot-water-heater.html
That web site also provides nice selection and installation advice (with pictures!) for all hot water heaters, including those with tanks and tankless.
Donna
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On Feb 10, 7:53 am, "Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator"

Next time, do these 10 steps twice a year & your heater will last 20 years! 1. Shut the electricity/gas to your water heater 2. Close the cold water intake at the top of the water heater 3. Open a hot water faucet on any level above the water heater 4. Open the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater 5. Shut the drain valve when that water runs clear (approx 10 gallons) 6. Inspect the sacrificial anode (replace rod only if corroded badly) 7. Shut the water faucet that you had opened in the house 8. Reopen the cold water valve intake to the water heater 9. Run all faucets in the house for at least 10 second (or sputtering stops) 10. Turn electricity/gas back on
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On Wed, 13 Feb 2008 15:10:03 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Thank you for all the advice! You've given us the courage to tackle this ourselves! Bill and I read *every* post here!
To replace our dripping 40-gallon (65-gallon FHR) home water heater, we bought the best water heater I could find.
This turned out to be the $450 Sears #33154 (actually manufactured by AO Smith) 97-gallon First Hour Rating (FHR) and 0.63 Energy Factor (EF), nominally with a 50-gallon tank and coming with a (rather useless) 12-year warranty on parts and a slightly useful 1-year warranty on labor.
We're going to do the job tomorrow so I'm reading *everything* I can find on the net on how to properly remove and install a natural gas home hot water heater. I'll summarize the steps we plan on taking in a subsequent posting.
So far, Bill bought $686.47 in parts while I write up every step for him before we do the work tomorrow, together. He will return any unused parts, but here is what he bought from Sears today to get ready for the job.
$449.00 Sears #33154 50-gallon 12/1 year hot water heater 97FHR .63EF $ 2.19 1-ounce TFE paste (for the gas pipe fittings) $ 9.59 3/4-inch quarter-turn water valve (replaces plastic drain valve) $ 8.99 3/4-inch CSA gas ball valve (for the gas line) $ 15.99 3/4-inch swing check valve (for additional heat-loss protection) $ 7.99 18" 3/4-inch by 3/4 inch FIP corrugated copper/brass flex pipe (x2) $ 7.49 15" 3/4-inch by 3/4 inch FIP corrugated copper/brass flex pipe (x2) $ 5.99 12" 3/4-inch by 3/4 inch FIP corrugated copper/brass flex pipe (x2) $ 12.99 18" 3/4-inch stainless-steel water-heater connector pipe (x2) $ 10.99 12" 3/4-inch stainless-steel water-heater connector pipe (x2) $ 8.99 3/4-inch by 3/4-inch Dialectric Union B (x4) $ 3.59 1.5-inch long 3/4-inch male:male brass pipe nipples (x4) $ 2.39 1.0-inch long 3/4-inch male:male brass pipe nipples (x3) $ 52.32 sales tax at 8.25% -------- $686.47 total
The reason for *both* the copper flex pipe and stainless steel pipe is because the stainless steel might allow us to not need the dialectric unions which are huge. Remember, the new tank is five inches taller than the old tank so we are going to have problems with the plumbing most likely so having fewer nipples and dialectric unions will shorten the lines a bit.
Do we really need to isolate the copper from the brass from the steel? We assume so.
Also, we bought the extra one-way check valve even though the water heater apparently comes with heat-loss protectors and we can s-kink the flex lines (not the steel lines, just the copper lines).
Do you think the one-way hot-water-outlet check valve will work to slow heat loss?
Note we didn't buy the insulating blanket for the water heater, nor the insulation for the hot-water pipes yet. We figured we could do that later.
Our biggest question is whether we really needed the dialectric unions. Since they were female:female, that necessitated brass nipples on each side, further lengthening the lines which we need to shorten.
What do you think? Donna & Bill
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On Sat, 16 Feb 2008 22:02:31 -0700, Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator wrote: > We're going to do the job tomorrow so I'm reading *everything* I can find

Here are the steps I wrote up for Bill. I post this to you *before* we tackle the job tomorrow morning. Did we miss anything important that you have told us to do? Is anything out of order that you suggested? Can we skip any of the steps outlined below? Your timely advice will help us and anyone following this thread! Thanks, Donna
HOT-WATER-HEATER REMOVAL:
While the old dripping hot-water heater is still firmly in place ... - Shut natural gas at the main gas meter - Shut natural gas at the local hot-water heater - Ensure the pilot light is out before separating any gas plumbing lines - Shut the household cold water at the main water valve - Shut the cold-water inlet to the hot-water heater - Open all hot-water faucets in the house to drain off pressure - Wait two hours, if possible, to allow the hot water in the tank to cool - Connect a garden hose to the water heater drain valve - Open drain valve and drain hot water where it will not damage anything - Disconnect garden hose and close drain valve when done (40 or 50 gallons) - Unbolt earthquake straps (if any) - Unscrew the sheet-metal screw holding the vent pipe to the draft hood - Separate the vent pipe from the draft hood - Unscrew the cold-water inlet at the nipple at the top of the tank - Unscrew the hot-water outlet at the nipple at the top of the tank - Unscrew the natural gas inlet to the water-heater thermostat - Cap the newly disconnected natural gas line to prevent contamination - Unscrew sheet-metal screws holding gas-flue hat onto the vent pipe - Separate the vent pipe from the gas-flue hat - Remove old heater off the elevated base - Remove all water plumbing up to and including the old shut-off valve - Remove all gas plumbing up to and including the old shut-off valve
HOT-WATER-HEATER REPLACEMENT:
While the new hot-water heater is sitting on the garage floor ... - Remove the plastic drain valve & replace with a brass ball valve - Install the new temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve - Install the relief valve relief pipe - Always use two wrenches when screwing and unscrewing pipe fittings! MOUNT THE TANK & POSITION THE VENT AND HOOD: - Mount and level the new hot water heater on the elevated base - Ensure at least six inches of clear space all around the new heater - Hacksaw the old gas vent so that it fits the new larger water heater - Ensure the gas vent aligns with the center of the hot-water heater - Insert legs of the draft hood into the holes in the top of the heater - Drill a 1/8 inch hole into the draft hood and 3-inch vent pipe - Screw in at least 1 sheet-metal screw from the vent hood to the vent pipe ATTACH THE COLD WATER INLET: - Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of the fittings supplied with the tank - Insert the blue heat-trap fitting (arrow down) into the tank cold-water inlet - Ensure the last two threads are never covered with Teflon tape - Do not use pipe dope on any threads where Teflon tape is noted below - Screw the cold-water inlet male:male nipple into the top of the tank - Wrap Teflon tape on the thread of the galvanized 3/4" water-inlet pipe - Screw a dialectric union on the 3/4" galvanized cold-water inlet pipe - Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of each male:male brass nipple - Screw the brass male:male nipple on the female:female dialectric union - Screw a new ball-valve shutoff onto this vertical cold-water inlet pipe - Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of another male:male brass nipple - Screw this male:male nipple into the new ball-valve shutoff - Screw the copper flex pipe onto the cold-water inlet brass nipples ATTACH THE HOT WATER OUTLET: - Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of the fittings supplied with the tank - Ensure the last two threads are never covered with Teflon tape - Do not use pipe dope on any threads where Teflon tape is noted below - Insert the red heat-trap fitting (arrow up) into the tank hot-water outlet - Wrap Teflon tape on the thread of the galvanized 3/4" water-outlet pipe - Screw a dialectric union on the 3/4" galvanized hot-water outlet pipe - Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of each male:male brass nipple - Screw the brass male:male nipple on the female:female dialectric union - Screw a new one-way check-valve onto this vertical hot-water outlet pipe - Wrap Teflon tape on the threads of another male:male brass nipple - Screw this male:male nipple into the new ball-valve shutoff - Screw the copper flex pipe onto the hot-water inlet brass nipples - Bend the copper flex pipe into an S shape to further inhibit heat loss TURN ON THE WATER SUPPLY: - Open all the hot-water faucets in the house to bleed out air - Open the main cold-water input to the house - Open the new ball-valve cold-water input to the hot-water heater - Check for leaks as the tank fills - Place a pan or bowl at the T&P overflow tube & test the T&P valve ATTACH THE NATURAL GAS INLET: - Always connect the natural gas line as the very last step in this process - Set the thermostat to the off position - Coat male natural gas line threads with stick pipe dope (never Teflon tape) - Ensure the last two threads are not covered with any pipe dope - Connect the new natural gas flex pipe with shutoff valve to the thermostat - Turn on natural gas at the main switch - Turn on natural gas at the local inlet to the water heater - Test for leaks by toothbrushing a solution of dish detergent and water - Read and carefully follow the manufacturer's lighting instructions INSULATION: - Wrap additional insulation around your hot-water heater, if desired - Wrap insulation around your hot-water outlet pipe, if desired DISPOSAL: - Call the local garbage or recycling to haul away the old water heater YEARLY MAINTENANCE: - Place a pan or bowl at the T&P overflow tube & test the T&P valve - Shut the natural gas flow valve to your water heater - Close the cold-water intake at the top of the water heater - Open at least one hot-water faucet on any level above the water heater - Connect a garden hose to your hot water heater drain valve - Open water heater drain valve & empty where hot water won't damage things - Shut the drain valve when that water runs clear (approx 10 gallons) - Remove and inspect sacrificial anode (replace if corroded badly) - Leave the hot water faucet(s) open - Open the cold-water valve intake to the water heater - Run hot-water faucets for at least 10 second (or until sputtering stops) - Turn the natural gas back on and ensure flame ignites in the burner
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No need to turn both off if the valves work, but can't hurt.

One low valve will drain off the pressure in seconds.

Turn the gas off the night before. Alternately, turnt he gas off, run the hot water to dilute what is in there a bit, then drain. Easier than sitting around two hours for a very little temperature loss. 40 gallon in an insulated thank is quite a bit of mass.

It won't drain unless you allow air to get in. Disconnect the top lines, then drain.

In your parts list I did not see anything for the vent hood that will be 5" shorter. Can you just cut the existing flue pipe?

Why? I didn't see any gas fittings on the parts list. If the gas is int he same location, just greak the union and put the pip below it into the new unit, then reconnect.

I'd leave them closed all along the way, save for one. No need to drain the entire system and makes purgin air easier later.
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On Sun, 17 Feb 2008 12:33:51 GMT, Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Hi Edwin,
Wow. You're good. You caught a bunch of nuances that I will both modify to improve (and repost when the job's done) and a few I'll explain better.
In this case, as per advice here, Bill will be removing the existing twisty-knob cold-water valve to because I asked him to replace that round green "gate" valve with a red-lever-twist ball valve.

Oh. OK. I was confused. I'll modify that. Some of the tutorials I read said to open just one hot-water faucet while others said to open them all. I was confused. I'll modify the tutorial so others following us benefit.

Good point. Actually, we take a long hot shower every morning and Bill has been gone a while, so, we really wanted to take that last steaming hot shower on the old tank so that's why I said it that way. It *is* a great idea to bleed off the hot water so as to dilute the tank so that will be added to the tutorial.

Good point. I realized I mixed the standard-maintenance drain procedure with the removal procedure. For a maintenance drain, we'd open a hot-water faucet. For a removal and replacement, we can disconnect the lines. Good point. I will modify the tutorial so we all benefit.

Very astute Edwin. The Sears guy, when showed pictures of what we had with yardsticks taped in place said we could just tin snip or hack saw the existing 3 inch vent pipe a few inches shorter. This will be the biggest 'modification' that we'll have to do to accomodatge the hugely larger heater. The Sears salesman said it was so much larger because of all the insulation. He even said we don't need any blanket as it wouldn't add any R value, he said.

Wow Edwin. You are very observant. After speaking to the Sears guy, we tried to find a gas line that had an integrated on-off valve like the one we have and we couldn't find any of them in his yellow hose collection. He said the gas line doesn't corrode and our pictures we showed him show it to be in good shape so we figured we'd keep the existing gas line. For the tutorial, I did a "do as I say not as I do" but you caught me in my parts list! Very clever!
Should I remove this part from the tutorial? Does nobody replace the gas lines? (we're not going to).

OK. I'll modify the hot water heater replacement how to.
Thanks for your astute advice - I'm happily surprised that others pay as much attention to detail as I do in my home water heater replacement tutorial!
Donna
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On Feb 17, 12:07 am, "Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator"

Now we know why good old Bill travels...............
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On Sun, 17 Feb 2008 10:59:36 -0600, msg wrote:

Hi msg,
I retired from a career in public-school teaching two years ago.
At one point, I taught very young autistic and aspergers children; we found the best therapy for their social disability was to break down even the most mundane of tasks into their every component.
By behavioral modification, the children could perform the behavior on their own, outside the classroom.
This is much like what a software engineer does when writing routine or complex software, is it not?
Donna
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Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator wrote:

<snip>
Indeed, I almost labeled your post a "flow chart" but it didn't use the standard conventions of flow charting ;-).
Are you planning on posting your photos and tutorial? What would be the URL?
Michael
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Wow, that's a nasty filthy clogged up evaporator. I bet your A/C bill was a lot lower after cleaning that as well, and it probably kept the house a lot cooler.
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Nope.
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if the OPs home is galavanized its time for them to buy a PEX tool to replace their plumbing, PEX is cheap and super easy to work with.........
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Very much so, the good ones anyway.
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On Sat, 16 Feb 2008 22:07:56 -0700, "Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer
<snipped instructions for heater replacement>
If your pipes are galvanized you don't need di-electric fittings. My guess is special tape/dope for NG is just bullshit to sell expensive sealers, but do what you prefer with that. I use the same teflon tape for gas and water. As you've noted keep it off the first couple threads so it can't get in the pipe flow. I always look end-on to ensure that. Once inserted for tightening it can't move forward. Unless it's the exact same tank, you will have to use different length nipples. Until the new tank is in place, you are guessing. If you aren't handy with plumbing, get somebody who is to help. If you do it alone, do it when parts are available. You may find some of the old pipes/fittings scaled up and need replacing. Same with stop valves. This is the time to replace old questionable stuff. Since I don't cut my own pipes any more, when I do a job like this I make sure I have plenty of different sized nipples available. They are pretty cheap, and I don't have to go back to the store. The biggest "art" in working with steel pipe is feeling when you should stop turning, or go for another turn on a fitting that requires alignment. How hard you crank down a series of fittings can add or subtract inches to a run of piping. When working with some tight fittings, ie those connected by close nipples, a pair of 14" channel-locks can take a bite on an opposing fitting that a fatter pipe wrench can't. They are expensive but come in handy for many, many uses, even removing car oil filters. Take your time, think as you go, be especially careful with gas. Good luck. And let us know how it worked out.
--Vic
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On Sun, 17 Feb 2008 07:26:23 -0600, Vic Smith wrote:

Hi Vic Smith, THIS IS MY BIGGEST CONFUSION! I see only *some* of the hot water heater replacement guides saying to use the di-electric fittings while others ignore it totally. Our existing plumbing has galvanized connected to flex tubing connected to nipple on the hot water heater.

I was wondering why some hot water heater repair guides said to use Teflon tape (TPFE?) on the water lines but pipe dope (TPE?) on the gas lines yet the tube that I bought says it works for both gas and water. That's confusing. I was careful to only state in my hot water heater step by step guide just what I had read in other guides, taking the best except where they conflicted.

Excellent hint! I'll add it to the tutorial as an additional step! Thanks for improving the a.h.r hot-water heater tutorial for others to benefit!

Sigh. This was my biggest hurdle. Trying to get accuracy where there was none. That's why we bought so many plumbing extras!

Yup. That's why we waited until after our morning showers on a Sunday. The stores will be happy to sell us parts all day!

We agree. Strangely, the cold-water pipes are all full of crusty white baking-soda like crud while the hot-water side seems relatively free of scale. We're still replacing everything, including the old round green twist gate valve, with newer better plumbing like the red lever ball valve.

Thanks Vic. I'd have to die trying in order not to report back to the group. I'm the official photographer as Bill does the work (he hates my flashing all around him) so I'll have complete step-by-step photos of the job, starting from the fiasco when we tried to "save the box" the heater came in.
Oh my! It was a disaster just getting the new hot water heater out of the box, upside down, without damaging the box!
Donna
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On Sun, 17 Feb 2008 08:30:34 -0700, "Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer

Di-electrics are used when collecting copper to steel. Newer homes usually have all copper. Di-electrics usually come into play when replacing the main service (the bigger supply lines) from galvanized to copper, but leaving the plumbing wall galvanized pipes in place. You would use a di-electirc union between the copper and galvanized. I've never used flex on a hot water heater, but suppose that flex connectors have the di-electric insulator built in. Should be some specs attached to that type of connector.

The hot and cold pipes could be different ages, or the mineral content could precipitate differently that what has been my experience, which is the hot water scaling up much more. I wouldn't use a ball valve as a stop valve. For long term use I believe a typical globe or gate valve will prove more reliable.
--Vic
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On Sun, 17 Feb 2008 10:52:25 -0600, Vic Smith wrote:

Hi Vic,
There is a black rubber grommet inside the copper flex tube's brass fittings. Maybe that's the dialectric; but it's tremendously smaller than the fist-sized dialectric unions we bought yesterday.
Donna
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On Feb 17, 11:24am, "Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator"

If your pipes are galvanized you don't need di-electric fittings Right and you are who certianaly not a plumber just a Mike Holmes wannabe, if you conect copper to galvenized you better use them but then Iam only a master plumber so what would I know
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