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Old 01-09-2015, 12:50 PM   #1
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1977 23' Safari
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Copper to Pex connection at heater

I am in the process of changing the original plumbing over to pex in my 1977 23' Safari LY. The original water heater works fine but the two fittings on to hot and cold are both threaded copper into the tank with a flare fitting to accept flared copper tubing. I tried to remove these elbows but they are being stubborn. They appear to be threaded fittings into the aluminum tank and I have tried several ways to break them loose. First tried tapping them with a pair of hammers, no success, then applied heat using a propane torch. Still no luck. What would be making these fittings so tight? Any suggestions as to how to break them free? I could always leave the flared copper tubing for the first few inches then switch to pex but I would prefer to get rid of all the copper. I am a bit concerned that if I put a wrench extender on it that I would ruin the tank and then have to replace the whole works. The original bowen heater works fine and I would like to save it. TIA - Lorry
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Old 01-09-2015, 01:51 PM   #2
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They can be a real bear to remove and with a tank that old you could possibly damage the tank (if the aluminum is already thin from years of corrosion). I have had some success in putting a steel bar, like a phillips head screwdriver, into the open hole of the flare fitting and applying lever pressure but no guarantees there.

I would probably leave the stub of copper and go from there to PEX for the safest route.
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Old 01-09-2015, 02:06 PM   #3
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I agree with the above. Change to PEX is good but if you damage that flare and can't get it out you'll be in trouble. Cut it and solder on a copper to PEX fitting. BUT, double check the size of the copper and make sure you have a fitting to fit before you cut anything. I seem to recall here on the forum where someone ran into some odd size copper tubing. Hope I'm wrong on that memory.

Better yet, I've heard good stuff about the shark fittings. Instead of soldering try using a shark for that transition to PEX.

Good luck with it. PEX is great stuff.
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Old 01-09-2015, 02:49 PM   #4
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I used Shark Bite for the transition.
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Old 01-09-2015, 03:34 PM   #5
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Dissimilar metal corrosion is the likely cause and I would go the SharkBite route as well rather than risk damaging the tank.


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Old 01-09-2015, 08:58 PM   #6
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thanks for the insight, I agree, it would really suck to ruin the tank trying to avoid a few inches of copper. I will keep the flare tubing for a few inches and use a sharkbite to switch over to pex.

edit... the tubing in mine (1/2" at the heater) will accept a sharkbite fitting, shouldn't need to sweat anything. as an aside... there is some weird copper tubing in this trailer, or at least there used to be... 3/8 tube at the fixtures, the hot service from the bathroom to the kitchen was some weird..7/16 or so tubing, bigger than 3/8 but smaller than the 1/2" used for all the cold water service.
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Old 01-10-2015, 12:05 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cp1977 View Post
. there is some weird copper tubing in this trailer, or at least there used to be... 3/8 tube at the fixtures, the hot service from the bathroom to the kitchen was some weird..7/16 or so tubing, bigger than 3/8 but smaller than the 1/2" used for all the cold water service.
Everytime you run into this it will be copper pipe of a normal size which has been stretched by freezing to appear to be a different size. It drove me nuts too, the first time I encountered it. It cannot be used with any normal fittings because it is not the correct size anymore,
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Old 01-10-2015, 08:23 AM   #8
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I ran into this at my home. Leaking "K"copper below the slab floor. Excavated it up and cut it out. Simple up to this point. The copper had expanded due to a likely freeze at some earlier time and was no longer 3/4" but something unknown larger. Since it was heavy wall copper I ground it down using coarse sandpaper working down below the floor until I could slip the fitting on and sweat it. Changed it to PEX.
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Old 01-10-2015, 10:14 AM   #9
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I would give serious thought to replacing the whole unit. Did a whole lot of work on my 1976 Sovereign, replumbing with pex, and then had to replace the HWT shortly after. Wished I had done it all at once. Tanks are not that costly, and if planning on keeping the unit, you will have to replace sooner or later!! Easier to do it when you want, rather than when you have to. Just my thoughts. Hello from Manitoba also!!
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Old 01-11-2015, 07:01 PM   #10
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Odd size copper

I own a 1976, and most of my copper pipe has expanded making quick compression fittings useless. Sometimes if there's room I can file it down to size. Otherwise I slip hose over pipe and use hose clamps.
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