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Old 08-19-2017, 12:51 AM   #1
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Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


We are taking a 20 yr old hot water heater out of an interior closet off the den, tossing it, rerouting the water and elec out to the garage where the new one will go.

I don't think it's a good idea to reuse the copper (see pics) but my husband wants to take everything copper (with expansion tank still attached) unscrew it from the tank and reuse as is on the new one.

This really worries me. It's 20 yrs old, I think it could get damaged being removed and leak or break unexpectedly (my photography studio will be in the garage so this would be bad), and I saw somewhere else that they suggested cutting the pipe where it met the tank rather than unscrewing it and then soldering on new fittings for reconnection after servicing the inside of the tank.

We've never soldered before so he is wary. I think it's not worth the risk and we should use all new fittings and pipe. Our old tank is low and the new one is tall so the existing pipes might be a little tall for the new install. We can learn how to solder in a few YouTube videos () I assume. Just want a clean install to get it done right the first time rather than deal with fixes later.

Tips? Not paying someone else $750 to do it, which was about the rate for plumbing and electrical work to move it about 10' under the foyer to the garage-not including installing the actual tank with expansion tank.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 08-19-2017, 06:55 AM   #2
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


I reuse copper all the time.
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Old 08-19-2017, 07:00 AM   #3
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


I would suggest using new pex rather than old copper. Run the new hot and cold lines to the new locations and terminate them about 12 inches above the top of the new water heater. Add a pex shutoff to the hot line, and install male adapters to the ends of the pipes. Then run water heater flex lines between the male adapters and the top of the water heater.

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Old 08-19-2017, 08:01 AM   #4
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


I would use the old in this situation. You maybe should support the expansion tank in its new location.

Better check your codes before changing to Pex in close proximity to the heater.
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Old 08-19-2017, 08:43 AM   #5
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


I have done it both ways. It's usually not worth the hassle to reuse the copper. Dirty copper is harder to solder, fittings aren't round, threads don't seal, etc.

To get professional results you should use new copper. If every penny counts, then you can save a few by reusing what you have.
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:57 AM   #6
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


Inside expansion tank is a rubber diaphragm. For that reason I would use a new expansion tank as well. In past, some plumbers said the expansion tank is not needed. That if there was too much water pressure, that pressure goes into the cold water line. I installed mine and that was kind of willy nilly. I just thought something like it is uber future proofing. Expansion tanks may need maintenance recharging.
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Old 08-19-2017, 09:59 AM   #7
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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Originally Posted by York v45 View Post
I have done it both ways. It's usually not worth the hassle to reuse the copper. Dirty copper is harder to solder, fittings aren't round, threads don't seal, etc.

To get professional results you should use new copper. If every penny counts, then you can save a few by reusing what you have.
That was my worry and pennies don't count, especially if it could take time and money later to fix

Senior, you mean even with it hanging out to the side of the rigid copper go ahead and support it in some additional manner?
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:01 AM   #8
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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Originally Posted by carpdad View Post
Inside expansion tank is a rubber diaphragm. For that reason I would use a new expansion tank as well. In past, some plumbers said the expansion tank is not needed. That if there was too much water pressure, that pressure goes into the cold water line. I installed mine and that was kind of willy nilly. I just thought something like it is uber future proofing. Expansion tanks may need maintenance recharging.

I did read that we should or may have to recharge that tank and I did want to use a new one just to be on the safe side but read it can be reused. So you are saying that the rubber inside would be/will eventually deteriorate?
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Old 08-19-2017, 10:30 AM   #9
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


[QUOTE=AmyPolzella;4539729
Senior, you mean even with it hanging out to the side of the rigid copper go ahead and support it in some additional manner?[/QUOTE]

***********************************************
I'm seeing it hanging off of a long T nipple of rigid copper and the weight has made the vertical copper pex combination bow from a straight line at the 1/4 turn valve. Maybe or maybe not a problem but if mine I wouldn't leave it that way as easily as a support would be to incorporate.

Plumbing is a big enough headache when done perfect and if the expansion tank function ever fails, which is common, there will be added weight with the tank completely full of water rather than a water air ratio.
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Old 08-19-2017, 12:03 PM   #10
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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I would use the old in this situation. You maybe should support the expansion tank in its new location.

Better check your codes before changing to Pex in close proximity to the heater.
I dont know the actual code, but i was not suggesting running the pex direct ro the water heater. My suggestion ended the pex 12 inches above the water heater with water heater flex lines making the connections to the heatet.

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Old 08-19-2017, 02:57 PM   #11
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


Got it all figured out. Will post a pic of finished job if anyone cares to see it.

We just went ahead and used galvanized pipe/fittings and a new expansion tank and it took a few minutes to put it on and cost under $50 including the new tank. Will run braided water heater line up to the pex we ran under the foyer (we have a split level so foyer sits about 4' off the ground) and out a hole in the garage drywall.

It really was about as easy as I thought it would be with a little help from Google and this groups input :D
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Old 08-19-2017, 03:09 PM   #12
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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Originally Posted by AmyPolzella View Post
Got it all figured out. Will post a pic of finished job if anyone cares to see it.

We just went ahead and used galvanized pipe/fittings and a new expansion tank and it took a few minutes to put it on and cost under $50 including the new tank. Will run braided water heater line up to the pex we ran under the foyer (we have a split level so foyer sits about 4' off the ground) and out a hole in the garage drywall.

It really was about as easy as I thought it would be with a little help from Google and this groups input :D
This sounds very similar if not the same as I do it all the time-
A tee on the heater nipple.
Long nipple and 90 in the horizontal branch of the tee to receive the exp tank. Nipple and flex off the top of the tee to a valve that is connected to the pex
Simple and fast.....
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Old 08-20-2017, 07:51 AM   #13
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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Originally Posted by TheEplumber View Post
This sounds very similar if not the same as I do it all the time-
A tee on the heater nipple.
Long nipple and 90 in the horizontal branch of the tee to receive the exp tank. Nipple and flex off the top of the tee to a valve that is connected to the pex
Simple and fast.....
Jumping in with a question... What is the benefit of an expansion tank on a water heater? I have replaced 12 or 15 of these over the years in my rental properties, and none of the old ones had expansion tanks, so I never thought to install a new one. Is there a benefit that I am missing?

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Old 08-20-2017, 08:57 AM   #14
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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Originally Posted by jeffmattero76 View Post
Jumping in with a question... What is the benefit of an expansion tank on a water heater? I have replaced 12 or 15 of these over the years in my rental properties, and none of the old ones had expansion tanks, so I never thought to install a new one. Is there a benefit that I am missing?

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I agree with you jeff. Many homes don't have expansion tanks on their wh and there's no problem. Depends how it's plumbed and local plumbing codes in your area. In my area, all newly installed wh's must have an expansion tank.

Basically, the reason for the expansion tank is to give the water a place to go when it's heated other than the tpr valve or back through the system. The expansion tank takes care of that issue.

Once a closed loop system is created you need an expansion tank. A prv, found on incoming main water lines or boliers or any type of backflow preventer device creates a closed loop system.

E can explain the science of it a lot better.
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Old 08-20-2017, 09:18 AM   #15
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Re: Moving/replacing hot water heater-reusing copper


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Once a closed loop system is created you need an expansion tank. A prv, found on incoming main water lines or boliers or any type of backflow preventer device creates a closed loop system.
More and more water meters are being installed with integral check valves. Like you said, this keeps the pressure from expanding into the city main.
It has come to the point where exp. are required by code to cover all the bases.....
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