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

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You don't replace the black iron gas line, but you want to replace the stainless flex whenever you replace the appliance.
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The problem with asking at the store is the average worker there knows very little. Flex lines used to be against code in some places, then there were required for earthquake prone locations. A call to the gas inspector will clarify what you need. Water heaters are better than dryers, but years of constant flex and vibration can cause cracks in the joiunts of flex lines.

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On Mon, 18 Feb 2008 15:30:03 GMT, Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Hi Edwin,
Again, thanks for the review of the job!
We had to make many compromises we felt a plumber would make also! (tell us if they would have done this differently after reading why below)
The reason for the flex copper cold water input is that there wasn't room for anything else. Given the shortest copper flex line we could find, we couldn't fit the dialectric unions. The shortest stainless steel lines we could find at multiple stores wouldn't bend enough.
We had to mate the cold water inlet's galvanized steel elbow to a steel nipple to a bronze ball valve to the copper flex line to the dialectric nipple screwed into the inlet of teh steel tank. http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2274079134 /
On the hot water side, likewise, there wasn't room for the copper flex plus two dialectric unions, but at least we could mate steel directly to steel by going from the galvanized steel elbow to a steel nipple to the steel pipe to the dialectric nipple screwed into the steel tank.
KEY QUESTION: Would a plumber have done it differently? How?
MINOR QUESTION: Why do some stainless steel lines have brass fittings yet they all say they are for mating steel to steel?
Donna
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Plumber would have used some copper fittings and soldered the joints. He can get exactly what is needed that way.
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On Mon, 18 Feb 2008 15:30:03 GMT, Edwin Pawlowski wrote:

Hi Edwin,
Given how corroded the steel pipes were (I can't believe my kids drank water from those pipes!), maybe we'll try to replace all our plumbing when the weather warms up (Bill is on the roof right now doing the shingles which blew off in the last storm).
It seems like an easy job for the piping under the crawl space.
But it seems difficult for the piping hidden in the wall. (Do we have to rip the walls apart?)
And the pipes under the driveway to the main water meter. (Do we have to break open the driveway?)
Is replacing the galvanized pipes with copper a do-it-yourself job Billa nd I can do together?
Donna
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Don't forget that all that crud in the pipes was in the water to begin with, it's gross looking, but not harmful.
Replacing the pipes is not difficult in itself, however depending on the design and layout of the house it can be a major project to get to all the pipes. I hate crawling around in crawl spaces, and you'll almost certainly have to cut open some walls. If you have a full basement it will be considerably easier.
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The problem with copper is getting it trough wall. Pex, OTOH, is much easier to get through and with the proper tools, easier to work with.
There are ways of getting under the driveway, but you'd have to either rent the equipment or call a plumber for that portion. Check what was used for the main. Many years ago (mostly in the 1940's) lead pipe was common.
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I've seen flex line for gas, and flex braided for water. Not sure it's legal. But it sure is a lot easier than making the correct shapes of rigid pipe nipples.
Yes, that galvanized pip should be replaced.
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How can it be that replacing a drain valve in a full tank leaks not water?
I still feel badly that I didn't replace the plastic drain valve with the brass ball valve because I was afraid the plastic was not removable (that's what Sears salespeople said anyway, instilling FUD in my mind).
I was subsequently reading how to replace the plastic drain valve after the fact and they all seem to say it won't leak if I do so with a full tank.
Huh?
How can removing the drain valve at the bottom of a full water heater not leak 50 gallons of water?
I already saw, first hand, what happens when that drain valve http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2274079114 / snaps off http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2273262545 / spewing 40 gallons of hot water in my garage http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2273262535 /
Can someone clarify this statement from, say: http://216.250.104.54/default.cfm?PageIdA781 (see excerpt below).
Donna
Maintenance Tip #21 Drain valves Drain valves usually come when you buy them from a manufacturer. They used to be brass. You should install a 3/4 ball valve on your water heater. The plastic ones are prone to leaking. To install a brass ball valve, turn the gas or electricity off and open a hot tap inside the house. If you have a cone-shaped valve, unscrew it counterclockwise six turns or so and pull it out at the same time. Now turn it clockwise while continuing to pull and it will come out. Wrap Teflon on the nipple that is exposed on the water heater. Attach the ball valve now. If you have a plastic drain valve that looks like a hose bib, unscrew it by turning the entire valve itself. A little water may come out while you're installing a new valve, but not much at all. Wear gloves to avoid getting scalded.
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Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator wrote:

Their idea of "a little" water is "about 5-10 gallons." I would drain the tank prior to replacing. I did just this on two heaters in my basement last year and I was unable to completely drain them (the WH drains are lower than any drain in the house) I had a mess to clean up after each one, and lots of sediment came spewing out too. It was especially fun as both were so close to the floor (wh's not on stands) that I had to leave the new valves open while starting the threads. Assembling the whole mess on the bench and installing the garden hose cap is highly recommended.
There will be less water coming out than you experienced with your old tank because of the vacuum of having all the valves in the house shut, but it'll still come out eventually.
nate
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Also, before draining the tank to remove sediment or to work on it, it's a good idea to shut the gas off a long time before you're going to do the work. That way, you can use up most of the hot water in the tank through normal use, instead of wasting it.
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On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 05:23:57 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote:

Hi trader,
I learned this one in spades!
We had used up some of the hot water (Bill took a really really long shower with the gas turned off) before the fiasco of the snapped valve: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2273262545 /
We had warm, not hot, water all over the garage as the tank shot it out two feet. Luckily I was around as the tank had just been righted after tipping over as we tried to get it off the stand, full of water. It was horrid. http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2273262531 /
The only good thing was you had already admonished us to have tepid water in the tank and that's what saved us from getting scalded as Bill stuck his finger in the hole (it was just the right size) to stop the leak and I bucketed the water outside. http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2273262535 /
We would have been burned had we not taken that good advice from this newsgroup! Others should heed the warning too.
Thanks, Donna
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Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator wrote:

Another trick to totally avoid the plastic drain valve is to have a 3/4" pipe fitting ready that can attach to a hose, then unscrew and remove the gas valve and thermostat assembly and slide the pipe and hose in its place.
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On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 05:27:28 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Hi hallerb, I understand your point. But, from what I read, they used to be brass and the manufacturers switched to the plastic for cost reasons only.
Also, I read a brass ball valve doesn't clog as easily.
Given our experience this past weekend, where the valve first clogged and then broke off inside the water heater, it would seem to us that over time, the brass will be less likely to break than the plastic.
Of course, one reason ours clogged was likely the fact we never flushed it so the sediments may have been too much for any valve - and one reason it broke is that we were manhandling it trying to get the tipped-over water heater back on the stand ... so you might be right.
I think I now understand how to replace the brass valve. In fact, a more important issue came up in that our dishwasher suddenly stopped working. I think it's due to the sediment being sent through the pipes (our shower heads were totally clogged all of a sudden, with sandy grainy stuff).
I opened a separate thread on alt.home.repair to ask how to clean out a dishwasher without being able to remove it (it's bricked in it seems).
I feel like "this old house" is attacking me so it's nice to have this wonderful newsgroup as my friends to help in times of need!
Donna
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The dishwasher is bricked in? Sheesh, how did they even manage that?
Fortunately most things can be accessed by removing the kick plate. The water inlet is a solenoid valve normally in the left-front corner of the machine. It will attach with a compression fitting which you can disconnect and then you should be able to remove the valve and clean it out. I suspect your clog is right there.
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On Tue, 19 Feb 2008 17:30:23 GMT, James Sweet wrote:

Hi James, I'm going to try to remove that kick plate later this week. I unclogged the shower yesterday; it was filled with sand grains: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2279233720 /
I unclogged the kitchen sink with a scissors today. http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2279233724 /
Notice the sand grains on my cutting board. They were all over the place!
This new sand does not look like the "scale" that was in the galvanized pipes! http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2273250265 /
Where did all this sand come from?
Donna
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message wrote:

Any good installation of an appliance like a washing machine, dishwasher etc should have a filter screen / rubber washer fitted to the hose fitting to the tap that controls the water to the appliance, with a bit of luck it should be as easy as to removing the hose from the tap and cleaning that filter / screen. There could be an additional screen fitted to the water inlet valve on the appliance as well that might need cleaning so depending on the difficulty on accessing the fittings, start with the easy one first and test from there before attempting the more difficult one. If you have cleaned out all the filters and it still doesn't work you could have had the unfortunate problem of luck that it also failed at close to the same time (It happens occasionally unfortunately) so good luck with it all. Justy.
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They usually have one in the water inlet solenoid itself. Thankfully the intake plumbing on a dishwasher is really simple. Copper tubing to a compression fitting at the solenoid valve, and a hose out of that through a nozzle into the washer compartment. The recirculation plumbing that does the washing is separate and very hard to clog.
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On Wed, 20 Feb 2008 11:37:11 +1100, Only Just wrote:

I looked underneath today. There is a hose going to the garbage disposal and another hose going to the faucet. There is a wire going to an electrical outlet. I'll look more later this week as I had to visit my grandchildren tonight and didn't get back home till late.
Here is what the dishwasher looks like: http://www.flickr.com/photos/donnaohl/2279233722 /
When I take the kick plate off, I'll snap a picture and show you what that "solonoid" looks like.
Donna
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Hey that looks identical to the one I just yanked out of my place, the motor died and the rest was in pretty sad shape, but the new one is very similar and works great. At any rate I'm familiar with the innards. When you remove the kick plate, you'll find adjustable screw feet and you should be able to lower it down enough to get it to fit under the counter lip. The solenoid valve will be right up front on the left side, mine is blue.
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