Join Early Retirement Today
Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Can I replace this gas water heater myself (pics)?
Old 09-28-2008, 08:01 PM   #1
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Houston
Posts: 1,435
Can I replace this gas water heater myself (pics)?

Our lovely water heater is more than 10 years old and it's probably time for a new one. Home Depot and Lowe's want ~$500 to install a new one (on top of the $500 for the unit itself) and this seems awfully high. I am not a particularly skilled plumber, but can I do this myself? My biggest question is, are the water connections as simple as unscrewing the bolt at the end of the flex connector (see the black arrow in the second photo). Or is that bolt going to be so corroded that is it unusable or un-unscrewable? In which case, I would have to hacksaw the flex-connector at the top and then sweat a new one on? I don't know how to sweat a pipe, and this probably isn't the project to learn. The other question is, it looks like most newer heaters have a temperature and pressure value located somewhere other than where mine currently is (see third photo). Is it hard to extend this pipe up to where it will be on the new heater? Just a matter of some PVC welds?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg waterheater.jpg (37.9 KB, 23 views)
File Type: jpg waterheater2.jpg (82.8 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg waterheater3.jpg (29.6 KB, 7 views)
__________________

__________________
soupcxan is offline   Reply With Quote
Join the #1 Early Retirement and Financial Independence Forum Today - It's Totally Free!

Are you planning to be financially independent as early as possible so you can live life on your own terms? Discuss successful investing strategies, asset allocation models, tax strategies and other related topics in our online forum community. Our members range from young folks just starting their journey to financial independence, military retirees and even multimillionaires. No matter where you fit in you'll find that Early-Retirement.org is a great community to join. Best of all it's totally FREE!

You are currently viewing our boards as a guest so you have limited access to our community. Please take the time to register and you will gain a lot of great new features including; the ability to participate in discussions, network with our members, see fewer ads, upload photographs, create a retirement blog, send private messages and so much, much more!

Old 09-28-2008, 08:25 PM   #2
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Laurel, MD
Posts: 2,946
The flex connector looks shot to me so I would expect a new one would need to be soldered on. I think you're correct that the The T&P relief valve will be higher up on the side or on the top of the new heater. I think this valve needs a minimum length of metal before going into plastic. You could probably just buy a threaded copper extension pipe. I think $500 is way too much. I would check around and find out what other places charge for the job or by the hour. I would want someone that could identify potential problems with the gas supply and exhaust lines. Ten yrs old doesn't seem like a long time unless you have hard water.
__________________

__________________
jazz4cash is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 08:25 PM   #3
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso) Give me a forum ...
REWahoo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Texas Hill Country
Posts: 42,067
You might get lucky and be able to unscrew the connection, but that's only half the issue. The bigger question is will it hold up to being reused and make a sturdy, long lasting and watertight connection to the new tank. I'm not sure I would risk it. Sweating a new connection really isn't all that difficult - I did it for the first time on an almost identical water heater replacement a couple of years ago. You can find lots of DIY instructions on line.

Extending the pipe to the pressure relief valve is a simple task - looks like PVC which can be easily cut with a saw and the fittings glued (actually, cemented with solvent).
__________________
Numbers is hard

When I hit 70, it hit back

Retired in 2005 at age 58, no pension
REWahoo is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 08:30 PM   #4
gone traveling
 
Join Date: May 2006
Posts: 1,036
Made me go look at mine. I installed a 12 year GE 50 gal tank about 10 years ago completely by myself from picking it up at Home Depot. I have shut off valves on the supply side of the flex connectors and replaced them when I installed. Probably could have kept them but the expense over 12-20 years is minimal. I think yours are just dirty from exhaust altho you have a lot of "water" stains everywhere it seems. My overflow is on the top and it would be real easy with PVC to run to where ever you need. I'd check to see where it goes past the wall. Usually the $500 is to upgrade and strap in a unit to new codes. I wouldn't spend the money.
__________________
honobob is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 08:48 PM   #5
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Both ends of that flexi are corroded from minute leakage. Chances are that when you unscrew the end thats attached to the water heater that the flare at the end of the pipe will be pretty much gone.

Practice sweating a couple of pieces of pipe to get the hang of it. Then solder a FIP connection of the appropriate size so you can use a fip to fip screw on flexi for this and the next WH.

Changing the overpressure is easy and you dont have to worry about that connection carrying 60PSI of water pressure. On one I did the connection was too close to the WH to use a torch so I used a copper epoxy to glue the pipe on. Worked fine.

Only other problems with a WH are that they're heavy. That old one probably weighed 180lbs when it was installed, it'll have a few gallons of leftover water in it, and its probably got 30-40lbs of sediment in the bottom.

If you want to do some DIY and still have a pro job done, drain that one, unscrew it and cut the drain connection as high up as you can. Dispose of the old one at the dump and go to sears and buy one of their 12 year models and put it on the pedestal with a friend. Go to the permit office and pay the ~$50 for a water heater permit. Then get a plumber to come out just to do the hookup. It'll be a LOT cheaper than a full replacement where they do all the work. A plumber ought to be able to do the three solders and add a drip leg to your gas line to bring it to code in about an hour. More like 30 minutes.

You might have to put some straps on it or raise the platform, but you should check on your local code to see what requirements are in your area.
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 08:51 PM   #6
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,614
Oh, yea, that baby looks like her time is up.

I don't think you need metal on the T&P valve output. The color (ivory rather than white ) looks like it might be CPVC rather than PVC. Both are available in your local Lowes/Home Depot. PVC has an upper temp limit of about 140 deg F, while CPVC is good up to 220 deg F. I would use CPVC. CPVC (and PVC) will embrittle if exposed to sunlight, so maybe paint the line if it is near a window.

You won't be able to re-use that flex pipe, and you don't want to. Get a tubing cutter (don't use a hack saw, the copper pipe won't be round anymore and you'll be really sorry. Spend the $10 and get the right tool!) and cut off the copper pipes as far away from the wall as you can. Buy the new flex pipes at the hardware store and buy ones that have female screw-on fittings at both ends. In the next step, you'll attach a fitting with male threads tot he copper pipe coming out of the wall, so you'll never have this problem again (next time, you'll just unscrew the flex pipe to replace it without need for a torch.

There are two ways to atach the male fittings to the pipes sticking ot of the wall:
- Sweat them on. This isn't hard, really. Buy a cheap propane torch for doing the sweating. Read up on it. Buy some scrap pipe and fittings for practice (hey--you're saving hudreds of dollars here, and acquiring a skill you can use forever!) The tricks are to clean the pipe well, use enough flux, and get everything good and hit before adding the solder. Be careful!!--extra solder can leak out and drip-I've got some beautiful scars on my arm from a similar solder/napalm encounter. If they are available, defiitely buy the fittings that have the solder already in them--I've never had one of these leak.
- Use one of the new "Sharkbite" type mechanical fittings for copper pipe. They have O-rings and little teeth that hold onto the pipe. No torch. I hear they work well. Not very manly, not likely to cause scars.

Teflon tape--you'll ned the cheap thin teflon tape for the water connections, and the thicker slightly yellow special teflon tape for thatgas line I see coming out of the wall.

If you new water heater doesn't have the special little flapper valves that help eliminate thermosyphoning through the water heater, you might want to install those, too, before you hook up the water. They go between the flex pipe and the water heater. I think these are included with most new water heaters, so don't buy them unless they aren't.

Good luck
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 08:58 PM   #7
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 11,614
CFB had a good point on the installation of a drip leg on the gas line-- I missed that. Adding one yourself isn't hard, but you'll need a few pieces of black-iron pipe, a pipe wrench, and some Teflon paste. And some soapy water to test it all when you are done. And the potential that you could blow up your house. If this is all sounding a little involved, follow his advice and do the grunt work yourself and get a pro to do the pipework. But, I warn you that you'll be cheating yourself out of at least 3 good stories and a trip to the ER!
__________________
"Freedom begins when you tell Mrs. Grundy to go fly a kite." - R. Heinlein
samclem is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 10:18 PM   #8
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
thefed's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 2,203
You can do it! Here's my lazy man approach

1)Turn off gas at red knob by gas line. Use pipe wrench to disconnect gas line from wall...leave it on the water heater as you will buy another

2) Turn off water up-stream somewhere

3) Use the aforementioned tube cutter ($6 bucks...has a little cutting wheel and looks like a c-clamp) to cut that supply line right where the paint ends. Clean the pain really well with a solvent, and clean the pipe with a wire-bristled tube cleaner ($3-plumbing section). Repeat this step for the outlet copper as well

4)Drain that bad-boy and haul it outta there

5)Set new heater in place, lining up exhaust vent

6)Use a shark-bite male threaded fitting coming off each stubs for easy removal down the road (NO soldering! just slip the fitting right onto the pipe and BAM it's done) Then, attach your new flex-lines (with 2 female threaded ends pre- attached) to the copper 'stubs' and the tank. Of course use teflon tape on the threads

7) Ask someone at home depot how to make the 'drip leg' for the gas line. Google a pics of water heaters and you will see this 5" black iron line going down to nowhere,directly next to the gas connection. REALLY simple using 2 pipe wrenches, position a tee fitting sideways,a 3" length on the bottom with a cap...a 3" length going into the tank, and a double male fitting on the top. To the double male you will attach a new flex line that goes to the wall...probably only $12 and good insurance. Use the yellow teflon for gas fittings, and check with soapy water


And that's it...should take a well-prepared rookie only 2 hrs or so.
__________________
thefed is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 10:28 PM   #9
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
I'd strongly recommend getting a permit and everything required to get a sign off.

Half the time you'll get away with it, and the other half the buyer wants you to get the permit and re-do it.

I'd just as soon have it done right up front, in a way that keeps me from worrying too much about leaks and whatnot it for the next xx years.
__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 11:08 PM   #10
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
Brat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Portland, Oregon
Posts: 5,913
Your insurer might have an issue if you didn't get a permit and the puppy blew, particularly if it wasn't installed per code.
__________________
Duck bjorn.
Brat is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-28-2008, 11:52 PM   #11
Moderator
Ronstar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: A little ways southwest of Chicago
Posts: 9,335
You dont need to sweat any fittings - just buy compression fittings - valves, flex tubing, etc. Show your pics to a knowledgable person at a hardware store so that he / she can get you the fittings you need. Buy a new water heater, and follow the installation instructions. Your 3rd pic is the emergency pressure relief valve. You should have no problem using CPVC fitting to tie into the discharge line as long as the relief valve on the new water heater is high enough and on the same side .
__________________
Ronstar is online now   Reply With Quote
Drip leg
Old 09-29-2008, 01:34 AM   #12
Recycles dryer sheets
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 77
Drip leg

Quote:
Originally Posted by thefed View Post
You can do it! Here's my lazy man approach

1)Turn off gas at red knob by gas line. Use pipe wrench to disconnect gas line from wall...leave it on the water heater as you will buy another

2) Turn off water up-stream somewhere

3) Use the aforementioned tube cutter ($6 bucks...has a little cutting wheel and looks like a c-clamp) to cut that supply line right where the paint ends. Clean the pain really well with a solvent, and clean the pipe with a wire-bristled tube cleaner ($3-plumbing section). Repeat this step for the outlet copper as well

4)Drain that bad-boy and haul it outta there

5)Set new heater in place, lining up exhaust vent

6)Use a shark-bite male threaded fitting coming off each stubs for easy removal down the road (NO soldering! just slip the fitting right onto the pipe and BAM it's done) Then, attach your new flex-lines (with 2 female threaded ends pre- attached) to the copper 'stubs' and the tank. Of course use teflon tape on the threads

7) Ask someone at home depot how to make the 'drip leg' for the gas line. Google a pics of water heaters and you will see this 5" black iron line going down to nowhere,directly next to the gas connection. REALLY simple using 2 pipe wrenches, position a tee fitting sideways,a 3" length on the bottom with a cap...a 3" length going into the tank, and a double male fitting on the top. To the double male you will attach a new flex line that goes to the wall...probably only $12 and good insurance. Use the yellow teflon for gas fittings, and check with soapy water


And that's it...should take a well-prepared rookie only 2 hrs or so.
What is a drip leg if you don't mind me asking?
__________________
CRABBY JERRY is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 07:49 AM   #13
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Northern IL
Posts: 18,255



The old furnace had a drip leg, which is used to prevent any debris in the gas line from entering the furnace valve. It consists of a TEE (instead of a 90) and a short piece of pipe capped pipe.

Drip Leg

-ERD50
__________________
ERD50 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 09:05 AM   #14
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
ls99's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 4,792
All really good advice above.

However, if your skills are limited, better spend the bucks to get it right once, the first time. Sometimes getting rid of the old tank is more hassle than the whole job.

I am all for DIY in general. I do darn near everything around house. Including fighting town hall when necessary. (permits etc.)

With limited skills, you can end up with re-doing stuff several times, then still have to pay to get it right. Agree $500 is over the top.
__________________
There must be moderation in everything, including moderation.
ls99 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 09:31 AM   #15
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,194
I'm with CFB -- find out how much a plumber would charge to finish it off, and do the demolition and pre-hookup yourself.

Also, look into on-demand water heaters. We more than paid back the costs of ours in a few years, YMMV.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 10:20 AM   #16
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
tryan's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 2,449
Make sure the tank has water in it BEFORE you fire it up. Else it'll blow ... from the air pressure.

If I've never sweat a joint ... I'ld call an independent plumber (probably will charge 1/2 the depot rate). It's only an hour of work for a pro.
__________________
FIRE'd since 2005
tryan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 10:23 AM   #17
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
And a second plug for 12 year Kenmore water heaters. Better insulation and efficiency ratings than the GE and Whirlpool units that home depot and lowes sells. ball valves. Dual magnesium anode rods instead of a single aluminum. Made by AO Smith (same brand that most plumbers like to install) and theres always one on sale. They make both a tall and short version of their 40's and 50's, so you should have no trouble finding one to fit.

Most installs are $400-500. They need two guys to come out and remove the old one and take it to the dump, two guys to go get the new one and set it in place, someone to go to the county office and get the permit, and someone to do the actual hookup and code updates.

None of that requires any particular skill except the hookup.

I'm not really in favor of compression fittings on continuous pressure lines like a WH. I think they're fine on a piece of pipe that only periodically has pressure in it. Maybe I'm just a little overly cautious but I like to have the main water lines soldered.

Make sure you get a hookup line long enough to put a 'gooseneck' on the hot water line. Picture below. Heat in water rises. When it hits a peak in the pipe it stops. At that point you've effectively prevented hot water losses by the pipes in your wall siphoning heat from the water heater.

__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 10:48 AM   #18
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
TromboneAl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 11,194
Quote:
Make sure you get a hookup line long enough to put a 'gooseneck' on the hot water line. Picture below. Heat in water rises. When it hits a peak in the pipe it stops. At that point you've effectively prevented hot water losses by the pipes in your wall siphoning heat from the water heater.
That's interesting -- it really works, huh?

The biggest disadvantage I found, in going to an on-demand water heater, is that it takes longer before you get hot water at the tap. This is because the hot water doesn't diffuse into the pipes.

So the bunny loop may not be entirely a good thing.
__________________
Al
TromboneAl is online now   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 10:58 AM   #19
Thinks s/he gets paid by the post
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Houston
Posts: 1,435
Thanks for all the helpful advice. When I said the heater was +10 years old, I actually meant it was 14 years old. So it's had a good run.

I might be willing to learn to sweat the pipe, but this is kind of an awkward space and if I foul it up, there's not much pipe left to cut and start over with. I'd also be worried about torching the drywall and/or myself.

I installed a compression fitting on a toilet supply line in order to replace the shutoff valve, and it looks like the sharkbite connectors are even easier than that. My only concern is how they will hold up over time with the heat and pressure (seems like a no brainer for a drain pipe). I could give the sharkbites a try and get the new heater installed. If they don't work, then I'd call a plumber to sweat on some new fittings - even if it comes to that, it should be much cheaper than paying them for the whole installation.

I called Sears and they wanted about $270 plus permit for delivery and installation. However, they seemed to think that new flex hoses could just be screwed on - if the delivery crew had to remove and sweat on new connectors, the cost could increase.

This photo is the cold water supply line, I assume I would just use the pipecutter at the arrow?
Attached Images
File Type: jpg waterheater4.jpg (71.6 KB, 5 views)
__________________
soupcxan is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-29-2008, 11:04 AM   #20
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
Give me a forum ...
cute fuzzy bunny's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Losing my whump
Posts: 22,697
Oh yeah, it works. If you put one in, you can feel the tank side of the gooseneck and its hot, the other side of the gooseneck is cool to warm. In a straight pipe the whole pipe will be hot. The copper and water will continue to conduct some heat even with a gooseneck, but at a dramatically reduced rate.

As far as getting hot water to the faucet...eh, you're going to get lukewarm water until you get whats in the heater tank to travel to the faucet if the waters been off a while.

If all your pipes are insulated in the wall, then I suppose its no issue. Otherwise all the pipes in your house act as a radiator pulling heat from the HWH and dispersing it into your walls. Sort of a lot of loss for someone who puts bubblewrap on his windows in the winter...
__________________

__________________
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.
cute fuzzy bunny is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply


Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
water heater insulation - help lucija Other topics 19 05-09-2008 09:48 PM
Tankless Water Heater ferco Life after FIRE 32 09-18-2007 06:13 PM
tankless water heater, anyone ? JohnEyles Other topics 53 01-16-2007 08:26 PM
Water Heater 'Blankets' - Anyone know anything about these? Cut-Throat FIRE and Money 10 12-07-2006 09:31 AM
Tankless Water Heater Update TromboneAl Other topics 3 06-15-2005 03:40 PM

 

 
All times are GMT -6. The time now is 08:42 PM.
 
Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 1
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.