Water Heater

When the house inspector went through my place before the purchase, one of the things he mentioned was that the water heater was probably as old as the house (just over 60 years old) and that I should replace it asap. Of course a lot of things needed attention when I moved in so I pushed aside all things which currently worked to deal with later. After a year and 8 months I finally was in the right place to get this old beastie swapped out.

The Search

Having the rare opportunity to do research BEFORE a major household appliance failure I started thinking about going with a tankless model. I also looked at some high efficiency units too. In the end I found that I would not have hot water when the electricity was out with a gas heater if I went either of these routes. I also found out that I would probably need to get a water softener or else I'd be plauged with problems later on. Yea none of this sold me on paying twice the cost of a tank style water heater. I settled on a Kenmore 12 year 50 gallon unit to replace my vintage A.O. Smith.


I ended up having the new unit on-hand for about 3 weeks before I installed it. I like to attempt to have everything I need on-hand before I start work when possible. One of the things I wanted to change was the tiny copper lines running from the cold inlet and back out to the hot water line. I believe they were 1/2" lines feeding a 3/4" main line. Also the gas line had not sediment trap and used copper as well. I had to get various pieces of pipe, elbo's, and unions to bring things up to code. Also, the floor joists directly above the exiting water heater were cracked and needed supports installed so I needed to move the new water heater about 3 inches which required new exhause vent pieces.

In the end I only had to make one unexpected trip to the hardware store for mortor mix to reattach the exhause vent back to the chimney. All water connections worked out of the gate with no leaks, as well as my gas line work. I did have to replace the gas line union because I tightened it too hard and it "popped" loose - all of the threads had been worn down and it wouldn't seal again.

Why you need traps in your gas line

The following pictures show sediment which had accumulated in the gas line over 60 years. The white pieces were in there too, they appear to be old pipe dope which made it inside the line during assembly all those years ago. Since the old water heater gas line had no trap it was just sitting in there waiting to cause a failure any day now.

pictures coming soon...