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Old 05-16-2008, 07:19 AM   #1
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Water heater valves?


I just bought a new natural gas water heater (GE). The inlet and hot water outlets had plastic caps in them. I thought they were just covers to keep debris out so I attempted to remove them. After quite the effort, I realized they are some sort of valve. The inlet is pretty damaged and would need to be replaced.

A few questions about it:

Is this valve necessary? I have never seen anything like this. Isn't the flow into the tank unregulated?

Will this void the warranty?

I have checked the installation instructions and have not found one word about these things. THere is even a diagram showing all of the parts and it does not show anything like this. Is it possible that these are just plastic caps and I am wrong about the valve part of it?

Any advice or help on this would be appreciated. I really do not want to void my warranty and would think that the company should state in the installation instructions that these should remain in place.

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Old 05-16-2008, 08:13 AM   #2
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Water heater valves?


Do they appear to be a plastic lining in the nipples that protrude from the top of the tank? Are they blue in color?

The reason I ask is that they are very possibly dielectric nipples, which are very important. If you damaged the plastic, don't worry, this can be fixed.

Any way you can post a picture of what you're dealing with? I doubt they're valves, but stranger things have happened.

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Old 05-16-2008, 08:22 AM   #3
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Do they appear to be a plastic lining in the nipples that protrude from the top of the tank? Are they blue in color?

The reason I ask is that they are very possibly dielectric nipples, which are very important. If you damaged the plastic, don't worry, this can be fixed.

Any way you can post a picture of what you're dealing with? I doubt they're valves, but stranger things have happened.

Yes they are blue.

They are about two inches deep or so. I am at work right now and can't get a picture, but they look just like the plastic caps they usually put in that type of thing to keep stuff out.

Before I started digging at it I stuck my screwdriver down inside to make sure it had a bottom. Once I got started and realized that it wasn't easily removed, I got the flashlight out of my truck and looked down inside. That is where it looks like there is a valve of some sort. It actually looks like there is a flap with an o-ring sitting on top of it.

It sounds like you are right on about what these things are. I bought dielectric unions to install the water lines and assumed that they simply attached to the bare threaded end of the nipple. Assuming you are correct about what I am dealing with...how do I fix it? It seems strange to me that these things even have a bottom to them. It seems like it would restrict flow (which is why I am guessing it is a valve).

Should I just put a pipewrench on the whole nipple and remove it to dig the plastic out? Do I need to replace the plastic if I am using a dielecrtic union? So far this thing just does not want to come out. I had a pair of pliars on it and had it spinning around, but it just wouldn't pop loose.

Sorry about all of the questions and thanks for your help.
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:44 AM   #4
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Water heater valves?


Typically dielectric nipples have a blue plastic inner liner and are galvanized pipe. As for having a bottom, I'm stumped. Not sure what GE ships with their water heaters though.

With an intact dielectric nipple, dielectric unions are not necessary. Nothing wrong with using them though.

Call GE's help line and make sure. Just don't tell them you boogered them up and they'll never know!

When you use a dielectric union, all metal-to-metal pipe contact is lost because of the gaskets and such. This is an issue with the grounding system of your house (unless you have plastic supply lines, which don't need dielectric connections) because the system is interrupted at the unions. The code requires an 8 gauge copper wire bonding jumper above the unions, that goes from the hot side to the cold side. Be sure to use proper pipe clamps for grounding connections. This is very inexpensive to do and is very necessary. Easily accomplished by any DIY-er.
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Old 05-16-2008, 08:50 AM   #5
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Water heater valves?


OK. Sounds good.

I will be calling GE to see if they offer up any additional information about it. I just hope they don't weasle their way out of any warranties because of this.

Thank you for your help and the additional info about the bonding.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:01 AM   #6
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Water heater valves?


I think I may have figured out what the piece is that I thought was a valve. Is it a heat trap? I saw some on a website that are built into the nipple.
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Old 05-16-2008, 10:32 AM   #7
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Water heater valves?


Steel,
]I think that you've probably just described what you have on that heater. Heat traps.
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Old 05-16-2008, 12:00 PM   #8
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Water heater valves?


Could be a back flow preventer, to stop heated water from being siphoned back out of the tank through the inlet.
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Old 05-16-2008, 04:22 PM   #9
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Water heater valves?


NO NO NO, :} what looks like a bottom is actually cross cut at the factory it slows the feed into the heater, that is factory lining on galv pipe to prevent rusting out. Just hook it up as you would any other heater. Probably had 2 red caps on top of the infeed pipes also, those go into the garbage
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Old 05-16-2008, 11:59 PM   #10
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Water heater valves?


Can't he just replace those nipples with brass ones? Wouldn't that be easier and cheaper than dielectric unions?
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:23 AM   #11
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Water heater valves?


I don't think there will be a warranty issue, if those heat traps are not in use.

Most of the time on some models like Bradford White heaters, the cold side will have the dip tube attached to the nipple bottom. So replacing the cold side if needed, you might need a nipple and a dip tube combined or not.
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Old 05-17-2008, 12:59 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron The Plumber View Post
I don't think there will be a warranty issue, if those heat traps are not in use.

Most of the time on some models like Bradford White heaters, the cold side will have the dip tube attached to the nipple bottom. So replacing the cold side if needed, you might need a nipple and a dip tube combined or not.

Good call, forgot about the dip tube.

I just hate unions.
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Old 05-18-2008, 11:06 AM   #13
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Water heater valves?


Thanks for all of the advice and help.

I called GE and did find out the heat traps would not affect the warranty. They seem to be a good idea as far as energy conservation so I replaced them with new ones. They only cost $10 for a set and I hear they save a decent chunk of energy each month.

So...I got everything back together and it is working just fine. THe new heat traps were taller than the old ones so I had to do a little extra cutting a soldering to shorten the lines, but that was no big deal. I was just happy I didn't mess anything up.

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