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Old 09-27-2016, 11:33 AM   #1
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Gas supply for Atwood water heater

Hi everyone! I can't seem to find a local plumber that's interested in a small job, so I've decided to do this myself and am coming to the Forum community for help.

I am replacing the original water heater in our 1968 Sovereign with an Atwood Mod # GE-9-EXT water heater. I have the water heater in place, and next comes the plumbing. My question is regarding the gas supply to this water heater. Please know that I am a novice when it come to this!

Originally, the PO had a shut off valve underneath the Airstream to which he had connected the copper gas supply to the old Bowen? water heater. (Picture attached). My two questions are:

1) - what size gas supply do I need to supply the new Atwood water heater? It looks like a 3/8" ID supply - but - the 3/8" ID copper I find has a 1/2" OD and that 1/2" OD looks too big to slide into the rubber gasket (2nd picture attached) that enters the wall of the water heater. Also, that shut off valve underneath the trailer is for a 3/8" nut - not a 1/2" nut. What am I missing?

2) I would also welcome any advice on whether to run the new gas line extension to that existing shut-off valve under the trailer - vs - running a new line back to the junction of where the three gas lines (fridge, furnace, and water heater) come off of the main propane supply line.

Thank you and any advice will be greatly appreciated!!
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:39 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by cheetah1 View Post
. . .
Thank you and any advice will be greatly appreciated!!
I would advise you not to do this work yourself, and to hire a competent expert. Besides plumbers, you might find an HVAC mechanic, or someone from the distributor where you get your propane tanks filled. Propane is highly explosive, as if this needs to be repeated, and IMO this is a terrible do-it-yourself project for an inexperienced person.

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Old 09-27-2016, 01:39 PM   #3
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When I replaced mine on my former Airstream I didn't use the rubber grommet as my supply line came up from the bottom of the water heater I just drilled a hole with a hole saw in the base of the heater and run the line . It was 3/8 ID copper then I caulked the hole and put a bolt into the hole in the grommet that was in the heater . You will need a good flaring tool to flare the copper tube. Make sure you have no leaks check with soapy water .
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Old 09-27-2016, 01:54 PM   #4
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It isn't rocket science. If it is your first copper tubing plumbing job just take your time, watch a few you tubes and expect to not get it perfect the first try. You may have to bend several pieces first. You will need a good flaring tool and a tubing bender and tubing cutter. Practice making flares and bending on scrap tubing. It is a skill but easy to master. I think the new "standard" for gas may a double flare, just remember that single flares have been used for years and years so it will be fine. The pressure in the LP gas line is only 14 inches of water, compared to water pressures of 70-80 PSI -that is very low. A good clean single flare properly done is fine. It took me a couple of tries to get the bend just right when I replace my original with an Atwood. 3/8 copper will go thru the gasket with some soapy water to lubricate it and then you do the flair. You will need the soapy water to check the connections for leaks anyway. Start the flare nut at the heater first as it is hard to get it lined up and you don't have much "wiggle room". Don't force it or you can strip the threads on the fitting on the heater if you are not careful. The fitting under the trailer is not a problem to connect. Once you have everything connected turn on the gas and use soapy water at both connections to check for leaks. If you see any bubbles turn the gas off and redo it. While you are at it, check all the gas connections with soapy water. I found one of the old connections on my 68 leaked. Finally, if you are not comfortable doing it, hire some one. Also, if you never expect to need the tools again it may be cheaper to get someone to do it for you.
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Old 09-27-2016, 03:46 PM   #5
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All I can add to the instructions above: You probably need to add a support with a rubber grommet in front of that valve. Similar to this:
https://www.extremepsi.com/store/pro...at=1065&page=1

A source for cheap tools:
http://www.harborfreight.com/7-piece...-kit-5969.html

This is how a flared end is done:
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Old 09-27-2016, 10:38 PM   #6
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Thank you!
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Old 09-27-2016, 10:50 PM   #7
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Thank you for the reply and the direction. I am comfortable working on this, but I just needed some direction and advice to make sure what I thought I needed to do was what I actually needed to do. It's amazing what I've picked up (as wells tools I now have that I didn't know existed) as we work to get our Airstream roadworthy!

I will be getting the necessary tools on my next trip into town as I will probably need them as we continue to work on this trailer. You said that "the 3/8" copper will go thru the gasket with some soapy water to lubricate it..." Am I correct in understanding that the copper I will be using actually will be 1/2" OD with a 3/8" ID and that you were able to get that 1/2" OD copper thru that gasket on your Atwood water heater install?

Thank you again for the tips! That's a great idea to check all of the propane copper tubing connections under the trailer with soapy water. I could not even guess the last time they had propane flowing thru them!
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Old 09-27-2016, 10:53 PM   #8
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Alan, thank you for these links and your input. I do appreciate it!
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:00 PM   #9
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"Am I correct in understanding that the copper I will be using actually will be 1/2" OD with a 3/8" ID and that you were able to get that 1/2" OD copper thru that gasket on your Atwood water heater install?"

Yes tubing measures by inside diameter. 3/8" copper tubing will be 1/2" outside diameter. Be sure you get the coiled copper tubing. Not straight copper water pipe.
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Old 09-27-2016, 11:03 PM   #10
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Thank you HiJoeSilver! My project for this upcoming Sunday is taking shape! I appreciate your response!
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HiJoeSilver View Post
"Am I correct in understanding that the copper I will be using actually will be 1/2" OD with a 3/8" ID and that you were able to get that 1/2" OD copper thru that gasket on your Atwood water heater install?"

Yes tubing measures by inside diameter. 3/8" copper tubing will be 1/2" outside diameter. Be sure you get the coiled copper tubing. Not straight copper water pipe.
I am pretty sure that the existing copper line in the photo in post #1 is 3/8" OD, not ID. I suggest you should measure what is there and get the same size. I think you will find the main copper line is 5/8" OD and the branches from it are 3/8" OD.

Also, this is a link to an owner's manual for your trailer: https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...0110i.arc_.pdf
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:30 AM   #12
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That pipe is 3/8 OD, unless someone has modified it.
I did a search and found the following thread regarding the sizes of the propane pipes. In post #4 Terry (Overlander 63) states the tubing sizes. He is a mechanic at Out of Doors Mart, an Airstream dealer. I trust what he says. Then Ganglin clarified ID or OD in post #6.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f287...-lp-63459.html
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Old 09-28-2016, 08:36 AM   #13
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Ditto, I am pretty sure that all of the branch distribution lines that were on my trailer were 3/8 OD.

I am playing from memory here so I might be wrong, but I am pretty sure.


Quote:
Originally Posted by A W Warn View Post
I am pretty sure that the existing copper line in the photo in post #1 is 3/8" OD, not ID. I suggest you should measure what is there and get the same size. I think you will find the main copper line is 5/8" OD and the branches from it are 3/8" OD.

Also, this is a link to an owner's manual for your trailer: https://www.airstream.com/wp-content...0110i.arc_.pdf




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Old 09-28-2016, 10:42 PM   #14
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Thank you Alan and J Morgan. I did measure tonite and you are correct that the copper tube running into that shutoff under the trailer is a 3/8" OD line. I also called Atwood customer service, and was told that the gas service to their hot water tank that I am putting in should be 3/8" feed. SO - that makes me think that I should run a new branch copper gas line ( 1/2" OD / 3/8" ID) from the main copper propane line junction and replace what is there now (which is a 3/8" OD line) with a 1/2" OD / 3/8" ID line. That would give me the 3/8" ID feed that Atwood says I need for this Model GE-9-WXT gas/electric hat water tank. Am I correct in this thinking?
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