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Thread: NG water heater supply connections

  1. #1

    Default NG water heater supply connections

    Been reading up on this trying to find out what method is most current. Current (failing) water heater has dielectric unions between galvanized nipples on tank and copper water lines. New water heater (American standard) has plastic lined galvanized nipples. Old dielectric unions look fine, but I'd rather not re-use them. Counter guy at supply house said "everyone's usin' the sharkbite braided SS lines. Quick & easy". I'd rather use a solid connection. Should I remove the plastic lined nipples & use a brass nipple, or just use the factory installed nipple & screw my FIP copper adapter directly to it? I've done a few in the past this way and have not had any problems. Thanks!

    PS. 16 y/o water heater is rusted and leaking where the brass drain screws into the side of the tank. Coincidence, or is something to be said about the use of brass nipples as a dielectric?

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    coincidence. There are several possible ways to make the connection, but even with the "dielectric' nipples" on the tank, (which are mostly cosmetic anyway), I would use a dielectric connector of some kind, if for no other reason than that they are usually easier to install. One plumber friend of mine uses that Sharkbite supply all the time, and I NEVER do, so it is a matter of what you are most comfortable ith.
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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    FWIW, depending on where you live, some places require rigid connections to the WH, and some require flexible ones. It may also tie into whether you are required earthquake straps or not, but then some places don't care and you can use either one.

    Where I live, you are also required a tempering valve and a vacuum breaker, so it's good to know your local codes if you don't want hassles.
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  4. #4

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    Midwest here, so no earthquakes. We are pretty much behind the times here, no TV's or VB's required. It's the dielectric component that is see opinions all over the board on. If I use the Sharkbite SS adaptor as pictured above, I'll be "just like everyone else" ,and I guess that makes it OK.

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    16 y/o water heater is rusted and leaking where the brass drain screws into the side of the tank.
    It's just old. If it wasnt' leaking there, it could have started somewhere else.

    I"m not a fan of the braided water heater supplies. I typically use the copper flex for mine. I find that the stainless flex are harder to seal than the copper flex.

    So that's braided flex
    Copper flex
    Stainless flex
    and rigid copper.
    That's four ways it can be done.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Four materials and several different connecting methods create a large variety of possibilities.
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    When you say "copper flex", are you referring to the corrugated copper lines? If so, how do you handle the dielectric connection?

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    Forum Admin, Expert Plumber Terry's Avatar
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    If so, how do you handle the dielectric connection?


    It's built into the flex where the nut is. There is a plastic sleeve.

    Most water heater nipples come with a plastic liner though.





    Two different brands, but both have the plastic sleeves. One is obvious, the other isn't.
    Though the nipples on the Rheem heaters are lined anyway.
    Last edited by Terry; 10-01-2013 at 05:05 PM.

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    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    quote; Counter guy at supply house said "everyone's usin' the sharkbite braided SS lines. Quick & easy".

    Isn't "everyone's doing it" what you told your mother when you wanted to do something crazy?
    The corrugated stainless steel connectors also have a dielectric function in the connection nuts.
    Last edited by hj; 10-01-2013 at 02:29 PM.
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  10. #10

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    Ended up using Dielectric unions & hard copper. Thanks for all the help!

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