Natural gas hot water heater replacement by a Master Plumber using Viega ProPress Fittings.

Table of Contents

  1. Gas Water Heater Replacement Cost and Code Compliance
  2. Natural Gas Hot Water Heater Replacement Process (you are here)
  3. How to Install a FloodStop Water Heater Auto-Shutoff Valve
  4. Water Heater Replacement – Gas Supply & Type B Flue Vent Connections
  5. Basement Water Heater Temperature & Pressure Valve Discharge Pipe to the Outdoors

Natural Gas Hot Water Heater Replacement Process

The plumber and his helper have disconnected the 15 year old water heater and placed the new Bradford White 50 gallon water heater model # RG250T6N away from the gas furnace/air handler per my instructions:

Bradford White Natural Gas Hot Water Heater Installation

Bradford White Natural Gas Hot Water Heater Installation

The lettered items in the above photo are:

  • A & B – Shutoff ball valves installed on the hot & cold water pipes.
    A cold water shutoff valve is required by Code. I wanted a shutoff on the hot water pipe to make future maintenance or replacement easier. It eliminates the need to drain the hot water pipes when replacing the heater.
  • CFloodSafe auto-shutoff valve.
  • D – Natural gas shutoff valve. The pipe nipple and valve will be replaced to reroute the gas line.
  • E – Water hose connected to the old water heater drain valve.
    The old heater has a plastic drain valve compared to a brass valve on the new heater. Normally the old heater would have to be removed first but the plastic valve partially fused after 15 years of heat exposure causing the tank to drain very slowly. Since the new heater is installed in a new location, the plumbers were able to continue working while the old tank drained for several hours.
    Why not drill out the old drain valve? Because water would squirt all over the floor before the water hose could be reattached.
  • F – water heater drain pan. Required by Code.

Water Heater Stand versus Floor Level

The old water heater has an open pilot light & burner. This could ignite flammable vapors from a gasoline can or other sources stored near the heater. It had to be elevated 18″ off the floor by placing it on a metal stand per Section “305.3 Elevation of ignition source” of the 2015 International Fuel Gas Code.

The new Bradford White heater has Flammable Vapor Ignition Resistant (FVIR) technology called the Defender Safety System. An exception in 305.3 allows FVIR listed heaters to be sat on the floor.

The plumber used a Camco 24″ diameter aluminum drain pan (never rusts):

Camco 24 inch Aluminum Water Heater Drain Pan

Camco 24 inch Aluminum Water Heater Drain Pan

Viega ProPress Plumbing Fittings

The plumbers used the Viega ProPress fittings with a RIDGID RP-210 Press Tool to connect the 3/4″ copper pipes. It’s somewhat similar to SharkBite push-connect fittings but ProPress makes permanent connections with a 50 year warranty versus 25 years for SharkBite. Photo of the various tools and materials needed to install the new water heater:

Natural Gas Hot Water Installation Tools and Materials

Natural Gas Hot Water Installation Tools and Materials

The ProPress system and tool is easy to use and makes connections in seconds:

The Viega ProPress system is beyond the reach of most homeowners because:

  • ProPress tools are expensive.
    The less expensive tools are similar to bolt cutters and difficult to use in cramped spaces. Plumbers use the battery powered models.
  • ProPress fittings aren’t sold at the home improvement store.

If you’re doing a major remodeling job ProPress may be worth the investment.

RIDGID RP-210 ProPress Tool

RIDGID RP-210 ProPress Tool

Close-up of a ProPress 3/4″ copper elbow showing the interior seal:

Viega ProPress Copper Elbow Plumbing Fitting

Viega ProPress Copper Elbow Plumbing Fitting

The overhead copper pipes were cutoff with new drops and ProPress fittings installed:

Relocate Water Heater - Pipes Cut and Reconnected with Viega ProPress Fittings

Relocate Water Heater – Pipes Cut and Reconnected with Viega ProPress Fittings

The water pressure gauge was reused and installed between the cold water supply pipe and thermal expansion tank using ProPress fittings:

Hot Water Heater Pressure Gauge

Hot Water Heater Pressure Gauge

I asked the plumber about SharkBite (which I’ve used with no problems on several jobs) versus ProPress. His reply was:

  • SharkBite is mainly for do-it-yourselfers vs ProPress for commercial installers.
    My brother is a mechanical foreman and his company uses ProPress on jobs at hospitals, universities and commercial buildings.
  • ProPress makes a permanent connection with a 50 year guarantee making a good alternative to soldering.
    The life expectancy of copper water pipes is about 50 years, perhaps much less depending on water quality.
  • He sometimes uses SharkBite when the ProPress jaws won’t fit in a tight space and a soldering torch may cause a fire.

Next: How to Install a FloodStop Water Heater Auto-Shutoff Valve.

Best,

Bob Jackson

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