Newie's experience with replacing a water heater and some questions

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by paulsiu, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. paulsiu

    paulsiu New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    This weekend, I kept hearing the ejection pump going off, so when I went to investigate, I notice that water was leaking out of the water heater. The gas water heater is a 6 year 50 gal GE dated back 2002. It is past its warranty, but I thought it was a bit unusual for it to break so early in its life.

    In any case, this is my first house, and I know only basic principle of how a water heater worked. I contacted my father in law who installed a water heater last year to help. Here's what we did:

    1. Turned off the gas.
    2. Open the drain valve at the bottom. I suppose I should have used a hose, but the water heater sits right next to the drain hole, so I just put some towels to direct the water. The ejection pump handled the rest.
    3. Went to the hardware store and purchased a 50 gal Richmond 9 year. I also got a drain pan.
    4. Disconnect the old water heater. It's connected to some copper pipe from the top with a dielectric connector. The gas goes to a cold iron pipe. Unfortunately, the new water heater was too tall and too wide.
    5. Replace the cold water pipe with a short flexible gas line hose. Cut the overhead pipe and replaced with a short length of stainless steel flexible water hose, connected using dielectric connector. Check for leaks and reactivate.

    One thing I did learn. Instant solder is crap. I think there's not enough solder in it to work. I was able to solder the connector after switching back to the old flux and solder.

    I have some question post-installation
    1. Is what I am doing to code? I was wondering about the flexible gas and water hose. I just don't have the skill to work with cast iron.
    2. I wasn't able to find a really short flexible hose to connect the water, so I have a short one coming from the top with a S bend. Is this OK or do I need to replace it with a straight section?
    3. Now I have a drain pan with a hole and no drain pipe. I was thinking of a flexible hose and have it run into the drain hole. Is there a problem with that?
    4. I also notice a relief valve on the top. I purchased a drip tube that dumps water into the drain pan, but the instructions shows another pipe that goes directly to the drainage. Is it ok to dump into the pan or should I actually run a line to the drainage?

    Thanks!

    Paul
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,689
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    If you really used a "gas hose" for the water line then neither it, nor its fittings, are meant for contact with water, nor the pressure in a water line. I have no idea what a "stainless steel flexible hose" was, but it also may not be the proper device. Drain pans usually have so means of connecting a pipe to them, unless someone forgot to give it to you. If you do have a connection, rather than just a "hole", the run "something" to the drain pit. If teh relief valve were to open, it would flood and overflow the drain pan in a matter of seconds, so it SHOULD run to the drain pit, but NOT be connected to any "drainage" pipe. By "instant solder" I assume you mean tinning flux, and if so it is NOT a replacement for solder, but just a backup for poorly prepared joints.
  3. paulsiu

    paulsiu New Member

    Messages:
    32
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    Nope, the yellow hose that goes to the gas is a gas line and is connected to gas. I used it instead of trying to get the cast iron pipe to work. The stainless steel flexible hose is design to carry water.

    Drip pan have a little hole on the side, but what I purchase didn't fit into the hold. I'll need to return to the hardware store to get the right hookup.

    I see what you mean about the relieve valve. The reason I asked is that I notice several video from the Nashville area inspector showing a dip tube coming out of the relieve valve and draining into the drain pan.

    The instant solder was this tube of stuff that look like flux and was suppose to be as good as solder + flux (according to the hardware store guy). It did not work at all.

    Paul
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,058
    Location:
    New England
    There should be a pipe from the T&P valve that runs down close to the drain pan. There is a dimension in the code, but I don't remember it. The gas supply pipe is black iron pipe, but not cast iron. A flexible metal hose specified for gas will work. Some places require flexible connections, some require solid connections. Flexible is called for in earthquake country. Some places can use either and pass code.
  5. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,351
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    The flex pipes used for water are copper and are not intended for gas. You couldn't connect them to gas anyway without a lot of adapters. I think the instant solder you speak of is a product sold in hardware stores that is claimed to work like real solder. It is a phony product. Learn how to properly sweat a joint or hire it done. It's not rocket science, but it is a bit more than squirting liquid goop solder out of a bottle. Unless there are local codes that prohibit their use, flex copper is a great way to connect water heaters. When you drain a water heater, you need to allow air to get into the top of the tank. This can be done either by disconnecting the outlet pipe or by opening a hot water faucet. Otherwise it's like holding your finger of a drinking straw full of water. The T/P should have a 3/4" pipe to within 6" of the floor. This is NOT a dip tube. A dip tube is a plastic tube that is inside the tank that is used to direct the incoming cold water to the bottom of the tank. Gas flex connectors are allowed in some areas, required in some, and not allowed in others, so you have to know what your local codes are. If used, these have to be approved for gas connections. Check all gas connections for leaks with liquid dish soap. Providing a place for T/P drainage is often a problem. If the T/P opens, you can be faced with a flood if there is no place for it to go, and it can not be directly connected to a drain. I'm sure many homes are relying on the T/P never to open, but they can and do and that can cause big damage especially if the open T/P is not detected for awhile.
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Did you pull a homeowners permit and get this inspected? I am concerned about the gas. Did you use proper adapters to connect the FLARE end of the flex gas connector to the PIPE THREAD fittings on the pipe and at the gas valve???

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