New water heater preparation notes

The Tank New water heater preparation notes

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  • #2830
    bottecchia
    Participant

    I’m installing a new water heater, and I want to thank you for providing the information that (I hope) will help me make this one last forever. I’ve followed your instructions, but it wasn’t quite as easy as your site makes it sound (even though I’m an experienced do-it-yourself guy, and well-supplied with tools), so I thought I’d supply a few notes that might help other first-timers.

    My new WH is a Kenmore Powermiser 12, 50 gal, gas unit with two anode rods, with hot and cold exit/entry points on top, and supplied with a plastic drain valve.

    I removed the plastic drain valve with a 15/16 flat wrench, which could only access the wrenching surface from the bottom, meaning that I had to lay the tank over on its side. Maybe it could have been done with the tank still upright if I had a narrow-jaw pipe wrench, but there was not enough clearance for any of mine, all of which are standard sizes.

    The threaded shank of the plastic drain valve was pretty long (probably because the WH is R=20, with 2″ insulation), so when I tried to install the new brass ball valve using the standard plastic-lined nipple, it wouldn’t fit. The nipple was too short and couldn’t thread into both the tank and the valve at the same time. So I had to use a longer nipple that wasn’t plastic-lined, since I couldn’t find a longer lined one.

    Removing the primary (hex head) anode was also difficult. Using a 1 1/16″ socket with a 1/2″ drive and a standard handle, I couldn’t turn it at all. Even with a pipe extending the wrench handle, the anode head was too tight, and adding torque only turned the whole tank. So I needed to immobilize the tank in order to put sufficient torque on the anode head. I did this by turning the tank on its side again, then screwing short lengths of scrap 3/4″ galvanized pipe into both the hot and cold water inlets (making a sort of rabbit-ears on top of the tank). Then I inserted a 4′ piece of 3/4″ steel pipe between the rabbit ears; this enabled me to stabilize the tank by pushing the pipe in one direction while I used the other hand to turn the anode head in the other direction using my socket wrench (extended with about 30″ of 1″ steel pipe for additional leverage).

    I was then able to wrap the anode threads with teflon and re-insert, per your instructions.

    (I’d bet that, for people trying to maintain/check/replace the rod on their existing tank, a similar strategy might be necessary. If the pipes are fixed steel, you could do what I describe while keeping the tank upright. But, if you have flexible lines, or fixed copper, you’d probably have to remove them and screw in the same sort of steel rabbit ears I describe, and you might have to drain the tank, disconnect the gas, and turn it on its side as well.)

    By the way, this new WH (along with all the Kenmore Power-Miser models, even the 6-yr ones) have a ‘roto-swirl’ feature that consists of a curved dip tube. I removed it to look at it. The curve actually continues, forming a shape like a semi-circular scythe with the scythe handle as the straight vertical portion of the dip tube. The scythe blade is made to curve around the central vent. There are water exit holes at the end of the tube, but also several more along the bottom of the scythe blade. While I have no idea if this construction will prevent sedimentation, it seems to me that it should serve the same function at drain time as the curved dip tubes you sell.

    Also, this dip tube is pretty easy to remove without tools. In fact, it could be rotated about 90 degrees in either direction by sticking in my fingertip and twisting. There was no indication on the tube, on the tank, or in the instruction book about how to ensure that the tube is properly oriented. There is a notch on the top, apparently as an orientation indicator, but it doesn’t fit into anything and nothing fits into it, so it doesn’t help. In fact, that’s the reason I removed the tube – so I could figure out which way the notch should face before I tightened down the cold water inlet nipple. After all, if the ‘roto swirl’ feature has any chance of working as intended, the dip tube curve would have to be properly oriented around the circumference of the vent. Shame on Sears for having no mention of this in their installation/instruction manual (although they do mention that tank life can be extended by timely replacement of the anode rod).

    I hope someone finds these details useful.

    Bottecchia

    #3075
    bgschatz
    Participant

    I did find it very interesting. I’m getting ready for a replacement, and everything I’ve read so far is that the anodes are very hard to remove, another post mentioned a ‘special tool’ to do it. Also I’ve looked a lot at the normal places (Lowes, Menards, and Home Depot) and haven’t seen any yet with two rods, although I’ve heard that was a good thing. I also hadn’t seen any of those stores carry replacement rods. I also have seen people’s posts that really know Home Depot or Lowes, but I haven’t heard why yet. Last, myu water pressure seems to stay around 80 with a peak of 92, so I’m considering a pressure regulator and expansion tank.

    Thanks again, love ready people’s eral life experiences, especially when I’m heading down the same road.

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