I have replaced about 6 water heaters in my years on this earth. All have had copper pipes sweated; ball or gate shut off valve and flexible copper supply lines screwed into heat trap, lined nipple fittings on the WH.
The current heater to be replaced in my Florida vacation home is installed in the Garage. It has a ¾” copper stub outs from wall with a copper to CPVC transition unions. The CPVC is directly connected to the WH hot and cold heater input/outputs, with a CPVC ball valve for shut off cold water on supply side.
Looking for a local source for a 5500 watt 50-65 gal WH, the Big Box stores only carry 4500 watt element water heaters in the store. Sears stocks WH's with a convertable 3800/5500 watt lower element and I was thiniking of getting one of their units.
1- I favor old school copper. Is there any disadvantage Copper vs using CPVC?
2- Is there any reason not to do all copper?
3- Any recomendations related to the Sears units?
The Home Depot 9 and 12 year heaters have 5500 watt elements in them. The problem with Sears heaters, made by AO Smith, is that if they fail during the warranty period you have to contact them and wait for them to make an inspection before they will replace it. Every other company allows the plumber to return the heater for replacement without an inspection. There is no "disadvantage" to using copper, in fact most codes specify that the first 18" of piping between the heater and the plastic must be metal, i.e., copper. I am not sure how Sears does a "convertible" element, unless they disable part of it. That rating usually applies to the difference between 208 and 240 power supplies.
Licensed residential and commercial plumber
Actually the original supplied lower element on the Sears units are unique. Per the installation instructions, the lower element has 3 lugs instead of the normal 2 lugs and it comes with a jumper bar that can be installed optionally. To convert a (240v) Sears unit lower element from 3800 to 5500 watts you install the jumper between two of the lugs and place a check mark on the UL label in the 5500 watt box. Upper element is a 3800w/240v standard.
You use a 20 amp breaker if running lower element at 3800 watts and a 30 amp breaker if you jumper the lower element to become a 5500 watt unit.
Last edited by JerryR; 01-13-2012 at 02:07 PM.