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Old 06-20-2012, 01:25 PM   #1
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Water Heater help


This may be a question that I would need to ask a plumbing guru in person, but I will start here in hopes of the solution. I am not plumbing smart AT ALL. I have soldered copper piping which is for the hose spigot outside. I have also replaced shut off valves for the sinks/toilets. But that is the only experience I have had in plumbing.

This is a huge project for me........I have a 55 gallon existing water heater that needs replaced. I have a new GE water heater that will be taking it's place. (I was told that the connections on the existing WH are cracked and are in need of replacing. The plumber I had come out didnt want to loosen/remove them till i was a hundred percent sure that i was ready to do so. He said if he removed them, it would have likely leaked from that point on..........)

The new water heater electrical requirements can take what the old one had, so that is a one for one swap...I'm good there.

The existing water heater is actually a few inches taller than the existing. So as you can imagine, i need to modify the existing lines so they are shorter in length and reconnect them to the top of the new WH with new connections. Here is the question with this part......How do I know what parts/pieces I need to reconnect this set up to my new WH? Do I have to supply all new copper lines? Is this easy enough to cut and re-solder as needed? I don't need to replace the expansion tank, right?

The drain valve that is shown on top which drains out the long copper pipe on the side. The new WH drain valve is on the front of the WH. Can I just cut the line and reuse or does it have to be completely replaced?

This doesn't seem that difficult to do but I need to get it done but want all my ducks in a row before attempting. Don;t wanna find out half way through I need this $100 part.

Here is a link to some photos that I have of my existing water heater as well as a shot of the new one........

http://s804.photobucket.com/albums/y...bing%20Photos/

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Old 06-20-2012, 01:53 PM   #2
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Water Heater help


Use all the existing piping you can, but I'd replace the unions or at least the rubber gaskets in them.
Shorten the supplies to match your heater. Same goes for the t&p. line.
Your set up is very simple and clean (someone will rag on the piercing valve though)

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Old 06-20-2012, 01:54 PM   #3
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Water Heater help


piercing valve? waht is that?
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:04 PM   #4
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piercing valve? waht is that?
That little valve with the 1/4" line that probably goes to your ice maker.
Those valves eventually leak at the o-ring and plumbers hate them. Keep an eye on it for now or remove it an put in a 3/4x1/2 copper tee -on the 1/2 branch put a 5/8x1/4 comp. stop for the ice line
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Old 06-20-2012, 02:12 PM   #5
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ohhhhhh, that line. that is not an ice maker line. That little copper line actually is going to the AHU about 16" to the right of that water heater. Not sure what it's for..........
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Old 06-20-2012, 05:51 PM   #6
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I recently replaced an electric water heater. A few things have changed over the last few years. In previous installations, I never need an air inlet valve, the instructions with this water heater (A GE Wellspring) required that I install such a valve, apparently designed to prevent collapse of the heater in the event of pressure loss leading to vacuum in the unit. Other than that, the unit required two unions, which are a pain in the ass in my opinion, since the copper ones are prone to leakage if they are even slightly imperfectly machined. One of my brand new unions in fact leaked, I had to replace it.

As for electrical, make sure your electrical service is proper, mine was fine (10 gage copper wire, 240 volt service), but you really want to check first. The water heater may need to be installed on a platform, the Wellspring installation guide was very specific about supporting the unit off the floor. In short, I would read the instructions very carefully, purchase the supplies in advance, and still be prepared for the possibility that you need more parts due to leakage or other issues during installation.
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:03 PM   #7
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Water Heater help


get those galvinized unions off there install brass swet unions with sort brass nipples to make the heater connection.the pressure relief should run down the side into a bucket for seasonal blow offs....
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Old 06-20-2012, 08:25 PM   #8
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Water Heater help


biggles - are you referring to "unions" as the big hex nuts at the end of the line? What is wrong with them?

Why would these nuts be installed rather than the "brass sweat unions" you are referring to? Whats the difference?
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:14 AM   #9
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Can anyone explain this?
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:27 AM   #10
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Water Heater help


There is nothing wrong with those unions. They aren't galvanized, they're actually a kind of expensive di-electric union.

They look like they're in pretty good shape to me, so I vote to keep them.
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Old 06-26-2012, 09:39 AM   #11
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the "unions" are in perfect shape. The part that is cracked is what's underneath them I'm not exactly sure what they are but it looks like it is some kind of collar. That is definitely cracked and in need of replacing.

Are the unions pretty typical all across the board? Meaning, if I take them off, that they can fit the new water heater? Or can the sizes vary?
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by crankbait09 View Post
the "unions" are in perfect shape. The part that is cracked is what's underneath them I'm not exactly sure what they are but it looks like it is some kind of collar. That is definitely cracked and in need of replacing.

Are the unions pretty typical all across the board? Meaning, if I take them off, that they can fit the new water heater? Or can the sizes vary?
Your assessment is spot on, the unions are in good shape. You'll probably want to replace the gasket inside them though. go to a plumbing supply house for them.
The cracked part is actually a cut made in the isolation plastic ring. The rings purpose is to isolate the different metals of the union. Since its made of plastic, a plumber will sometimes cut it with a knife so it can be removed for soldering while the union is in place. After it cools the plastic collar is slipped back around the fitting and the nut is tightened down. The cut(crack) is harmless.

You can simply replace the unions with new ones if you want. Probably around $30 for the pair
They are called 3/4FIP x copper dialectic unions
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Last edited by TheEplumber; 06-26-2012 at 01:40 PM.
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Old 06-26-2012, 01:41 PM   #13
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EPlumber - The plumber that looked at it said that it was cracked and didn't want to touch it further......good to know.

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