NG Water Heater replacement: Reuse copper flex feed lines?

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by OklahomaDave, Feb 3, 2019.

  1. OklahomaDave

    OklahomaDave New Member

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    Hi all..

    I am getting ready to replace our original, 20-year-old Bradford White water heater. The installer hooked it up during construction to the house water with copper flex lines, and I have heard differing opinions on whether it's a good idea to reuse them on the new tank. I am planning to move from this 40-gal variety to a short 50-gal, which will probably be at least two inches shorter if not more.

    My first instinct is to replace them with SS flexible connections, but if this is a dumb/unnecessary idea, it's better to know now! Thanks.
    20190202_133155.jpg
     
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    I don't ever see a reason to reuse a flex. I am leery of the stainless ones, as most of them look nice but are not anything more than a piece of Chinese hose with a pretty cover.
     
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  4. phog

    phog Member

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    You can usually get away with reusing flex lines in a pinch, but it's a better idea to use new ones. They're really intended to be replaced every time there's a new appliance & they're not that expensive. There have been reports on these message forums of water heater hookups with stainless overbraid flex hoses that have deteriorated and gotten tiny pieces of black rubber into the plumbing. Not what I would call a "serious" issue but something worth noting. In general the products all work perfectly fine for their intended application. Your local code may require something specific. By the way that flue connection looks pretty half-ass. It is missing the appliance connector that transitions from single-wall to B-vent.
     
  5. OklahomaDave

    OklahomaDave New Member

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    I took another look and I'm going to use new SS corrugated flex. And, yes, that vent is not very well done. It isn't even screwed down. I will fix that when I replace the tank. Good catch!
     
  6. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    I toss flex lines anytime I remove them.
    As a plumbing contractor, that's just a service call 15 minutes after I leave the job. Replace them.
    And no tape is needed. They come with rubber seals on the ends.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    The pipe hardens some when bent. You risk cracking it after a long time plus, the gaskets probably aren't in great condition. Why chance it?
     
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  8. OklahomaDave

    OklahomaDave New Member

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    No reason at all to reuse them. They're coming off. Thanks for the great advice and expertise. I've mentally done that part of the job several times now! Thanks again!
     
  9. dj2

    dj2 In the Trades

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    I prefer copper flex over SS flex. Try not to bend it more than once and make sure the black rubber washer is inside.
     
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  10. Clog

    Clog Member

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    Why do you (and MasterPlumb777) prefer copper flex over stainless steel flex?

    And by "flex" I am referring to corrugated in both instances, not braided. I assume you guys are too.

    I agree that the copper corrugated should only be bent once, and that is another reason why copper corrugated should not be reused, especially since the process of uninstalling and reinstalling on the new heater will subject the flex line to several bend cycles.

    And this is the exact reason why I prefer the newer stainless steel corrugated lines, as they seem to tolerate repeated bending cycles without permanent deformation much better than copper.

    Yet there must be good reason why you guys prefer copper, other than it being what you are used to. I'd like to learn those reasons.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Copper is different from most metals in that bending it hardens it. Thus the next time you flex it, the flex would tend to happen in a place that has not hardened yet. Most metals would tend to keep bending in the same place, and can fatigue more easily.

    I think there is a variation in the quality of stainless steel.
     
  12. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    The corrugated supplies I get from my main supplier can be stainless or copper. The copper is a softer bending corrugated and because of that are more likely to square up where it meets the water heater pipe nipples, thus sealing better. Carefully done, both will work just fine. I've used both, the stainless is a little less expensive, but that call back 15 minutes after I leave the job from the homeowner has made me consider using mainly copper supplies as a regular thing. If you stare at it long enough, for a long period of time, you can make sure that either one you use is sealed and good to go.
     
  13. Clog

    Clog Member

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    Interesting about that leak call back on the stainless corrugated.

    One of the suppliers I buy from (affiliated with Hajoca) convinced me that stainless was better by wrangling one into a pretzel (literally) and then unwrangling it back straight again without a single kink or trace of it having been bent irretrievably. The demonstration impressed my gullible eyes.

    Yet, in the back of my mind, I've often wondered why Brasscraft still makes both copper and stainless, with both having dielectric bushings. If stainless corrugated was that much better, why does Brasscraft continue to make copper? I guess I'm starting to find out. So far three plumbers here have weighed in with a preference for copper.
     
  14. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Copper is better for soldering. :rolleyes:
     
  15. Clog

    Clog Member

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    Yes it does look like the OP's photo shows soldered ends on the plumbing side, so yes, that makes sense.

    I was only comparing flex lines where both ends were threaded couplers with the dielectric bushings, to coordinate wtih threaded intermediary add ons like auto shut off valve, vacuum relief valve, thermostatic mixing valve... flex lines with threaded couplers on both ends can ease the replacement of any of those valves in the event of failure.
     
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

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    Flex versus rigid is more of an issue, depending on where you live. Some places require flex, some require rigid, some allow either. Any metal can work harden a bit, some just do it faster than others and it depends on how far you flex it. Flex is easier to install if you can use it there.
     
  17. OklahomaDave

    OklahomaDave New Member

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    Thanks everyone..I used SS corrugated, and after only minor initial leaking, gradual pipe tightening cinched them up and we're good to go. The old copper flex lines were *really* stiff; much moreso than I expected.

    Appreciate the advice.
     
  18. OklahomaDave

    OklahomaDave New Member

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    BTW, I just wanted to thank all those who replied here with their expertise and experience. You helped this DIYer put in a new 50-gallon heater with no trouble, other than physically moving it into position . That new drain pan has a few battle scars LOL. Even added a sediment trap to the gas line.

    Thanks again, everyone. You helped me save somewhere between $500-$1,000 on an install job.
     
  19. Clog

    Clog Member

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    Now that you've got it in, what would you do differently if you had to do it again, as far as lifting the tank over the lip of the drain pan, to minimize the battle scars? Would you get help, or get cleverer?
     
  20. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

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    You can pull your belt off and wrap it around the water heater to give you more leverage when you lift it. Or throw down something on the floor and make a ramp.
     
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  21. OklahomaDave

    OklahomaDave New Member

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    Oklahoma
    I know exactly what I would do differently. I'd set up a couple of blocks and put a piece of plywood across them, then put then pan on it. I'd then lift the heater into the pan (where I had complete access). I'd then take my automotive floor jack and roll it under everything, and lift it to install height, then slide the pan/heater into position. Hindsight, as they say...
     
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