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Old 11-02-2004, 12:23 PM   #1
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water heater bypass

Ok, I got the bypass kit; now I need to figure out how to connect it. I have all copper lines...possibly factory. the connections to the water heater are made with a flared fitting. I'm not sure how I should proceed. The bypass valves will stick out from the heater an extra 2 inches; how should I go about shortening the lines to fit? I know how to solder pipes, but I don't know how to deal with those flared fittings. you need a special tool, right?..are they expensive?

I could just un-solder the pipe that goes up top, cut off a small amount from the end that goes into the "t" connection, and re-solder. but the bottom one really needs to be replaced. Its twisted, probably by someone over-torquing the connection in the past. doesn't leak, but I don't think I can remove enough of that length of pipe without getting up to the twisted part, which I wouldn't be able to solder back in place.
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Old 11-02-2004, 12:53 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
Ok, I got the bypass kit; now I need to figure out how to connect it. I have all copper lines...possibly factory. the connections to the water heater are made with a flared fitting. I'm not sure how I should proceed. The bypass valves will stick out from the heater an extra 2 inches; how should I go about shortening the lines to fit? I know how to solder pipes, but I don't know how to deal with those flared fittings. you need a special tool, right?..are they expensive?

I could just un-solder the pipe that goes up top, cut off a small amount from the end that goes into the "t" connection, and re-solder. but the bottom one really needs to be replaced. Its twisted, probably by someone over-torquing the connection in the past. doesn't leak, but I don't think I can remove enough of that length of pipe without getting up to the twisted part, which I wouldn't be able to solder back in place.
This is only a suggestion but I would give up that solid piping to the hot water tank. Consider cutting back the cold and hot lines far enough to solder on a threaded nipple and use the already made up plastic lines (with fittings) to mate up to your new by-pass valve.
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Old 11-02-2004, 03:10 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 85EXCELLA32
This is only a suggestion but I would give up that solid piping to the hot water tank. Consider cutting back the cold and hot lines far enough to solder on a threaded nipple and use the already made up plastic lines (with fittings) to mate up to your new by-pass valve.
the bottom one is so short, though. don't know if there's room. the shortest flex-line that I saw at HD last night was 12". I might be able to "loop" it, but those things will only flex so much before they kink. If I have to cut out the "T" in the main water line and move it to one side, there'll be a whole bunch of splicing to do. looks like a PITA, any way you look at it.

do they make any sort of threaded pipe coupler, double-sided, so that both fittings can turn independantly? maybe even a compression fitting on one end, with a 1/2inch pipe thread on the other? that would do the trick...
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Old 11-03-2004, 11:03 AM   #4
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Ok, one more question: the nipples coming out of the water heater: they need to be replaced, too, if I get rid of the flared fittings? the bypass valves are a straight pipe-thread. If those nipples are made specifically for a flared fitting, I can't attach the bypass valves to them?

I'm thinking of cutting the t's out altogether, and replacing them with compression tees. Then I'll use flex lines with 1/2in pipe thread fitting on one end, and 3/8 compression on the other. (that's what I used when I replaced the supply line to my toilet).
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Old 11-03-2004, 02:32 PM   #5
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Chuck

I was hoping someone with more experience than I would jump in - when I installed my bypass kit, I was able to directly thread the valves into the water heater on one end. As far as the existing copper that is there, I would go ahead and use copper again - seems like it would be easier - flaring is really easy, I borrow a friends flaring tool, but I cannot imagine they would be very expensive.

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Old 11-08-2004, 01:34 PM   #6
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Ok, I know you're all just DIEING to find out how this all turned out, so here goes:

I wound up doing a hodge-podge combination of the above proposed methods, based on the small amount of space available, and the fittings that were readily obtainable. I was able to find 1/2 inch and 5/8 compression tee's at HD. (note of confusion: compression fitting's sizes are based on the *outside diameter* of the tubing for which they are meant, even though the tubing is commonly referenced by its *inside* diameter. i.e. for 1/2 inch tubing, use 5/8 compression. for 3/8 tubing, use 1/2 inch compression. why they do this....I don't know. ). The 1/2 compression is just the ticket, as they make flex tubing with either 1/2 or 3/8 compression thread fittings, with 1/2 inch pipe thread on the other end. Unfortunately, they do NOT make flex tubing with the 5/8 compression thread. So, I couldn't use the compression tee on that line. another run to the plumbing supply wharehouse, and they told me that they do in fact make a 5/8x5/8x1/2 compression tee...but they don't carry it, and it would be difficult to find locally. (and I need to get this DONE. its getting cold here! brrrr!!).
So, I decided to just bite the bullet, and bought myself a flairing tool. the only other option that would have enabled the use of a locally obtainable fitting would have been the 1/2" compression tee in Qest-pex, which they had at Lowe's...but those are really huge...very bulky, and I'm not certain that it would have fit in the allotted space. AND I would have had to buy a bunch of pex tubing, as well. Anyway, I unsoldered the short 1/2" tube that supplys the water heater, cut and flared a copper tube to fit, and put it all back together.

I found that the bypass mechanism works best if you put the valves in the right way. Had to take it all apart and re-assemble to get the valves pointing in the right direction. Oh, and you DO need teflon tape on flare fittings. (doh!). The thing I most expected to leak , didn't leak at all. (my solder joint). The flare leaked just a teeny tiny bit...till I put teflon tape on it.

This morning, I pumped 1 gallon of antifreeze into the lines...still need just a little more. wouldn't you know. probably about a pint. Oh, well. better to have extra, and be safe. Here's a pic:
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Old 11-08-2004, 02:00 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chuck
...Oh, and you DO need teflon tape on flare fittings. (doh!). The thing I most expected to leak , didn't leak at all. (my solder joint). The flare leaked just a teeny tiny bit...till I put teflon tape on it...
Chuck,

Thanks for the documentary. A bypass kit is something I need to install on my water heater...eventually.

I have no credentials in plumbing, but I have flared copper pipe for both water & gas, and have never used teflon tape. In fact, I don't recall ever seeing teflon tape on any plumbing done by others.

Odds are that you will never have a problem. But you may want to keep an eye on those joints during next season's first trip.

Tom
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Old 11-08-2004, 03:40 PM   #8
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I didn't think you were supposed to use teflon on flare fittings, either. but it was leaking, ever so slightly....at least, I think it was. may have been the other fittings, and it was just dripping down slowly. kind of hard to see all there is to see in this cramped space. all I know is that just prior to the last re-assembly attempt, everything worked right, except this very small (1 drop per minute) leak. once I turned around the top valve, and re-assembled everything, it stopped leaking. It could be that it just wasn't quite seated right. that short line wasn't lined up perfectly w/ the heater, and took some jiggling to get it to connect.
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Old 11-08-2004, 05:29 PM   #9
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Nice job! Yea I surprised to see the teflon tape on flared fittings, but whatever works!
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Old 11-09-2004, 08:40 AM   #10
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Quote:
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Nice job! Yea I surprised to see the teflon tape on flared fittings, but whatever works!
the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that it was just a "fluke", and its not the tape that's sealing the fitting. if the joint where the flared end of the copper tube fits up tightly against the flare fitting was letting any water past, it would leak out of the back side of the nut. (the part facing us in the pictures). the slooooow leak must have been coming from the joint between the bypass valve and the male flare. (1/2 inch pipe-thread into the bypass valve housing/1/2 flare on the other end). the leak was coming out on the underside, then dripping downhill toward the supply pipes, so the whole underside felt wet...couldnt' "see" exactly where it was coming out.
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