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Old 07-24-2010, 10:22 AM   #1
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1989 34' Excella
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Help removing water heater

We are in the process of trying to remove our water heater and the plumbing lines just don't seem to want to budge. Which connections do we want to take apart? would it be easier to just cut the lines and repair them with Shark Bites later? Also, what kind of caulk is used to seal the unit in? Thanks much!
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:45 AM   #2
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You have poly pipe,you cannot use shark bites on it.You should have enough slack to cut off near a fitting,cut off ring,and be able to reconnect.
To seal the new installation,a butyl tape,or butyl caulk will give you a good seal. Dave
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Old 07-24-2010, 11:55 AM   #3
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Is this picture looking at the side of the heater? it looks like this is the diverter valve for winterizing. There should be 2 fittings on the back of the heater.The upper one is for the hot water out and the lower one is for the cold water in. You should disconnect these 2 fittings to remove the heater.
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Old 07-24-2010, 01:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wasagachris View Post
Is this picture looking at the side of the heater? it looks like this is the diverter valve for winterizing. There should be 2 fittings on the back of the heater.The upper one is for the hot water out and the lower one is for the cold water in. You should disconnect these 2 fittings to remove the heater.
Is this where you disconnect? I don't see how you can disconnect the bottom one without cutting the line.
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Old 07-24-2010, 08:27 PM   #5
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Yes this is where you disconnect the lines from the heater. The fittings to remove must be buried under the cardbord casing. I can't see clearly from the picture.The grey water line is threaded into the aluminum of the heater body itself. Sorry I didn't respond earlier but was busy with my campground today.We had Xmas in July and I had to be an elf for Santa and help deliver gifts to about 40 kids. If you can open up the cardboard a little and get a closer pic I can make sure exactly how the lines are attached.
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Old 07-24-2010, 10:27 PM   #6
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Yep, you have to cut the pipes in order to remove the water heater. They should be cut close to the elbows that are threaded into the water heater itself. Bad news is Shark bite PEX connectors will not seal with this type of pipe. I know because I tried it and it did not work. Good news is that other PEX connectors will work. They are compression type with a threaded collar that compresses the tubing against the connector to form a tight seal. RV stores have them and I have also gotten them from the big box stores as well.
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Old 07-25-2010, 08:01 AM   #7
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You may have a threaded fitting at the bypass valve for the top line. It's difficult to see in the photo, but, if so, try disconnecting the top line at the valve first, then disconnect from the heater body. If the installer was wise enough to do that with the top line, there may also be a threaded connection on the bottom line. Look underneath the bypass valve.

Good luck,

Roy
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:47 AM   #8
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Cathy I just got your PM. If you look at the cardboard cover for the heater there seems to be a lot of staining near the cold water inlet at the bottom. This is an indication that either afitting is leaking or there is a pin hole leak in the aluminum tank. Remove the cardboard and look for signs of corrosion on the tank. Mine had very small pinhole leaks for years and was not obvious when installed and running. Eventually the corrosion became bad enough to cause flood. The aluminum will be white and flakey and may show signs of an eruption (raised and distorted). Tank is under a lot of pressure when heating so it may be neccessary to test it full of water and heating to find small pinhole leaks. Did you get the heater out yet.
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Old 07-31-2010, 08:19 AM   #9
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I did get the tank out, but I have not removed the insulated cover yet to inspect the tank. I appreciate the tips and advice on this. We will likely replace the heater, since it is so old, and we have the area tore up.

I did have to cut one water line to remove it. When I went to the store to get a fitting to repair it the guy assured me a shark bite will work. He said he sells them for the grey tubing applications all the tome and has never had anyone come back and say they didn't work. He said you just have to be very careful and make sure you completely de-bur the end and make sure it is fully seated. He also said if it is going to leak, it will leak right away. We'll see what happens. I plan to make an removable access door for this area when I put it back together.

Also, how much of the old caulk has to be removed before the new butyl tape is put on? I have cut as much as I can off with a blade, but I can not get it all off the aluminum skin.
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Old 07-31-2010, 10:00 AM   #10
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There are fittings which can be disconnected from the water heater buried under the insulation and cardboard but the replacement WH inlet and outlet are located in different physical locations than the existing connections so you're going to have to replumb for the new WH and you might as well cut the pipe.

I used a combination of PEX tubing, fittings and brass adapters to make mine fit but I also had to completely replace the H assembly with the drain/shutoff valves because of the difference in the inlet/outlet locations.

I used the Home Depot fittings with copper crimp rings that required me to rent the crimpers for a day, and because of the size of the crimpers certain particular connections were very difficult to crimp. If I were doing it again I would instead use the PEX fittings at Lowe's which use a different type of clamp and crimp differently, because the crimping tool (which is affordable for you to buy) is half the size of the rented tool.
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