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Thread: Please offer advice for water heater replacement

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  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member ron2368's Avatar
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    Default Please offer advice for water heater replacement

    I have an old Rheem powervent I will replace with a BradfordW powervent, they are both 50 gal 40k btu. My house is plumbed with polybutylene joined with copper fittings.

    The old heater has PB running direct from the hot outlet. Should I run pex or use a certain length of copper pipe to get to the PB? Will the hot water degrade the Pex?

    When I join the pex or copper to the PB I see there are sharkbite press in adapters and pex/pb copper crimp ones. Is one more durable or preferred over the other? Thank you

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    From what I've read, plastic pipe should not be connected directly to a gas WH...you should have copper stubs coming out (I think it was at least 18") before converting to your preferred pipe type. Purists (well, purists would not use pex or PB) would prefer the crimp connection verses the push-on. Depending on where you live, some places require flexible pipe connected the WH (earthquake country) and others specifically prohibit it, so you need to find out what's allowed where you live as it's not always clear. The flexible corrugated copper or SS flex supply lines may simplify your install, and the end would screw onto a fitting you've attached to the plastic pipe rather than press-on or crimp.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    DIY Junior Member ron2368's Avatar
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    For the cold water I need a connect to the ball valve shutoff, can I use pex from the heater or I can make a short length of copper to use instead. The copper seems more solid to me but not like it will get lots of use. Whats preferred, both seem the same effort wise.

    If I have to adjust a gas line( threaded iron pipe 5/8) angle and I tighten it 1/2 turn is that ok for the sealant or should I take it out and clean off/reapply sealant?

    The manual states to either glue it to the floor or use optional leg kit, I know they are serious. It must have a soild bottom, the air inlets are along the side. I have not turned it over to look at the bottom. Should I keep it off the floor with a 18x18 block? The one at my office is electric but it is up on 4 bricks. Not sure what to do, every gas heater I ever installed had legs.
    Last edited by ron2368; 07-07-2013 at 03:22 PM.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you have to loosen a gas connection, take it apart and reinstall the pipe dope. As I said before, in most places, they do not want plastic pipe connected directly to a gas WH, at least a natural venting flue type (this is because the temperatures can exceed the safe limits of plastic pipe). The installation instructions should detail this. Where you install the shutoff valve is personal preference - it could be in the copper or pex, should you be using that. Keep in mind that should you need an expansion tank in the system, that tank must also be installed between the heater and any shutoff to ensure it cannot become isolated from the heater. WHere I live, they require both a vacuum breaker and an expansion tank on all new WH.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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