View Full Version : Flex or rigid connection to water heater

10-11-2005, 04:39 PM

Replacing an old gas water heater located in the laundry room of our house. Current connection is solid copper pipe connected directly to top of water heater cold/hot nipples.

When I replace the water heater, should I use the solid connection as it currently has or use flexible connector? For what it's worth, we live in SoCal earthquake country so don't know if code requires this or not.

Thanks for any help.
Jon :)

master plumber mark
10-11-2005, 06:11 PM
probably best to put flex lines on the water

and a ss flex gas line on the gas too

Gary Swart
10-11-2005, 06:52 PM
Use the flex copper and be sure to have the diaelectric nipples on the tank. Some places require the tank be strapped to the wall in case of earthquakes.

10-11-2005, 07:29 PM
If you are in California, the state requires flexible connections for water and gas connections. A pair of straps certified by the California State Architect is also required.

10-12-2005, 09:02 AM
Great! thanks for the advice. I had thought flex connectors were best, but when they repiped the house with copper they made a direct rigid connection to our old water heater for some reason.

So, a problem I may have...the copper water lines come up from underneath the house into "water heater closet" in the laundry area. The pipes go behind the water heater and extend up about 12" above the top of the heater. From there, they come forward maybe 8" and then drop down to a direct connection to the water heater nipples. There is also a cold water shutoff about 5" above the cold water nipple where it connects.

What would be the best way to replace the rigid connection with the flex copper? Where would u recommend I cut the pipe and reinstall the shut off valve? :confused:

Thanks again, Jon

Gary Swart
10-12-2005, 03:24 PM
If I have the picture, your pipe extends above the level of the tank and uses two elbows and two pieces of pipe to make essentially a U shape. What I would probably do is to cut the pipe where it is coming up behind the heater slightly above the level of the heater and install a full flow ball valve that would have a male adapter installed to connect to the flex pipe. I'd use the flex pipe to make the U to connect with the dielectric nipple in the top of the tank. Your description sounds like the hot water from the tank follows the same basic pattern, so I'd do the same for it. That's not the only way it could be done, and I might do it differently after I saw it. The thing is, you don't need all that pipe and elbows if you use the flex pipes.

10-13-2005, 03:41 PM
Thanks for the suggestion Gary. It looks exactly as you described! For the ball valve, would you suggest the ones that have ends to solder or female threaded ends?


Gary Swart
10-13-2005, 03:47 PM
Dealers choice. I don't know if there's any advantage of one over the other.

10-14-2005, 05:56 AM
Since you are putting it in a laundry room you might want to read the thread "Hotpoint gas hwt" before you choose the one to put in. RW

10-17-2005, 11:10 AM
Ok..slight problem with the idea of cutting the rigid copper pipe slightly above the level of the water heater along the cold line. The pipe comes up behind the heater and is actually sandwiched between the back of the water heater and the wall. It's a really small distance between the pipe and wall (maybe 3/4") and doesn't look like enough room to properly install the ball valve since the body of the valve may be too big without hitting the wall.

The only idea I can come up with is to cut off above the level of top of the water heater and solder in a couple elbows before attaching the ball valve. That would allow enough room to install the valve and male adapter to attach to flex line to top of water heater.

Any easier or better ideas please? Thanks. Jon

Gary Swart
10-18-2005, 01:21 AM
Sometimes retrofitting requires doing some unorthodox things because of just the little problems like this. I see no problems in doing it as you describe. The main thing is to have the flex pipes between accessable valves and the tank without putting sever kinks in the flex. An extra elbow or two won't hurt a thing.

10-18-2005, 07:39 AM
I would definitely get the ball valve up somewhere that is accessible.