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Thread: New Water Heater

  1. #1

    Default Project #4 New Water Heater

    A gas leak from the water heater control valve results in swapping out the 30 year old water heater and being ready to shower at 11:00 pm. It was not as fun as a welding project but I got to use fire and melt metal so I guess its better than doing taxes... Do yourself a favor and just plan on cutting out the old unions. I broke one loose but twisted the pipe doing it the other one broke a solder joint and I ended up cutting it out anyway. I didn't find the leaking joint until the next day. these are pics of the repair of that leaking joint. Man Copper is expensive. I guess that won't be getting any better so I need to get used to it.

    Feel free to hit me up with any questions. I'm off to India for two weeks so be patient I will reply when I get a chance to log on.
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    Last edited by Powertig; 02-22-2012 at 09:02 PM.
    Miller Challenger 172 Mig
    Soon to be winner of a Powertig 210 EXT

    Wade Mortenson

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Northern Virginia


    At my last place I was waiting for the water heater to go (it never did). I knew I could join copper water pipes but I wasn't sure about the gas lines. How did you handle them?

    Good luck on the trip to India~
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  3. #3


    Lucky You DaveO. The gas line was galvanized and it just happened to line up at the same level as the old one. Lucky me. just needed a pipe wrench and a wire brush to clean out the old pipe dope. There was a shut off valve just up stream, shot that off and crack open the union. I cleaned out the union too and put a little dope around the sealing surface surface. It all looked good and well thought out so I just duplicated what the plumber before me did.
    Miller Challenger 172 Mig
    Soon to be winner of a Powertig 210 EXT

    Wade Mortenson

  4. #4


    Had a contracting company for five years or so, so did a lot of connections with old plumbing, wiring, etc. Its a total pain with old copper, often we would just do a joint and run PEX if we could, its easier and more reliable, since you can do loose corners without joints.

    I find soldering on old copper a real challenge - getting it clean, clean, clean makes it work. Its also hard if there is any water left in the lines - you either boil it out, or hope for the best. you can even have issues with soldering a final joint closed and the air pressure from the warming up air inside the line will blow the joint... LOL!

    I usually would do what you did - cut as much of the old crap out of the way if it looks marginal and replace it. You are right though, Copper pipe is very expensive now - which is why PEX and other products like it are so popular!



  5. #5


    Pex would have been a great way to go... I was just in a pinch.. I had delusions of grandeur and swore my next water heater would be a tank less but then reality set in when I saw the wife's face when I told her when she would be able to shower again and she told me how much money was in the account. I will be learning how to use pex for future projects...
    Miller Challenger 172 Mig
    Soon to be winner of a Powertig 210 EXT

    Wade Mortenson

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by DaveO View Post
    At my last place I was waiting for the water heater to go (it never did). I knew I could join copper water pipes but I wasn't sure about the gas lines. How did you handle them?

    Good luck on the trip to India~
    BTW the easiest way to deal with the gas line is to use a flex line. A lot of times the steel gas lines don't line up properly. So the flex line is the way to go. They are using them on about all the appliances now. (dryers, stoves, water heaters) They just tell you not to reuse them just get a new one. I think they are under $20. Also make sure the steel line is supported well. A lot of times they used the water heater to support the line.

    As far as Pex goes, I just don't have the feel for it. It looks like you plumbed a house with pieces of garden hose. Copper is the way to go but expensive. Next best to me is CPVC.
    Shade tree MIG welder.
    Now a Shade tree TIG welder.

  7. #7


    You can't beat PEX... It simplifys the installation and makes tight places a breeze.

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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Greater Seattle, WA


    I enjoy doing plumbing projects as well, especially any involving sweating copper pipe.

    Here is a tankless water heater I installed at my place a while back, (replacing an undersized 40 gallon tank that could not be enlarged, due to the restricted "closet" space available.
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    I also ripped out the galvanized pipe in the wall and in the crawlspace (and actually, even in the ground between the water meter and my home's foundation... that was a pretty deep trench) and replaced with copper.
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    Needless to say, the problems with the shower pressure dropping when someone flushes the john (as well as the rust "chunks" clogging up the fixtures, from the ~50 year old galvanized pipe rusting itself away) are gone.

    Actually, I've still got a couple short lengths of galvanized piping behind my kitchen sink (in an exterior wall) that I need to replace with copper... maybe this summer.

    But yeah, soldering, just like welding, is manipulating molten metal.
    '13 Everlast 255EXT
    '07 Everlast Super200P

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Eastern Oregon


    I tried PEX for a couple of hose bibs under the porch and really hated it. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad roughing a new slab-on-grade house, but I'm just gonna bite the bullet and use copper for my retrofit. Besides, once I've bought all the pipe and wire I need, the price of copper is sure to come down again.
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Greater Seattle, WA


    By the way, last copper tubing soldering project I used this torch:

    I found the "C" shaped torch head attachment at the torch head is pretty nice for directing the heat evenly around the joint to be soldered. Great for sweating pipe where you can't easily access all around the pipe, such as in walls around things you need to keep the heat off of (such as wood studs.)

    Did I mention that this torch has a good bit of power output! (For a disposable propane bottle sort of thing.)

    The main thing I do not like about it is, the hose connecting the torch head to the bottle needs to be more flexible, and also maybe just a bit longer (it's a rigid/stiff PVC deal.) I've had thoughts of upgrading the line... any suggestions for upgrade options?

    PS - the new, fancy, lead-free solder sure can get expensive! I am all for keeping lead out of the drinking water though. I found it's important to match the flux (which might be designed to work with a specific temperature range...) with the kind of solder you are using. (Different kinds of solder can have different melting - liquidus and solidus that is - temperatures.)
    Last edited by jakeru; 03-24-2012 at 06:12 PM.
    '13 Everlast 255EXT
    '07 Everlast Super200P

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    The Boonies of Texas


    I use a 15% silver, phosphorus, bronze alloy hard solder for all my copper soldering. NO FLUXing required on copper.

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  12. #12
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Washington State


    Thanks for the link to the propane torch attachments, jakeru. I'm going to keep that product in mind in case I need to do some more plumbing. That might have been good to have when I helped a friend change out some of his copper pipes a few months ago.

    I'm still leery of PEX. I know some people who have had very bad experiences with leaking polybutylene in their central heating. I know PEX isn't polybutylene so it's more of a psychological thing ....

    Any of you put a bib (correction - looked it up and it is called a drain pan) under your water heater when you changed it? Supposed to help drain the water in a controlled manner if the bottom corrodes and either leaks or gives out completely ....
    Is it OK to want to break something just so that you can weld it back together?

    Everlast PowerTIG 185 Micro IGBT AC/DC Welder

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