DIY water heater install using sharkbite


Old 10-23-11, 01:44 PM
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DIY water heater install using sharkbite

Well I can install a ceiling fan and I can repair my sprinkler system so (after being quoted up to $300 for plumber) I'm going to try and install our new water heater.

I've picked up about $60 worth of sharkbite couplings etc from HD. I see 2 potential challenges and would appreciate any ideas.

1) The existing copper tubing rises about 5 inches or so above the heater before teeing off for upstairs/downstais on the hot and cold lines. So I have about 5 or 6 (the new heater is 1" shorter) to work with. The (2) 3/4" sharkbite fittings (the female threaded fitting and the 3/4 to 3/4" inline) make up about 4" all by themselves. So - I'm only going to have an inch (maybe 2) of cpvc between these two couplings. Does anyone see a problem with that ? (I wish I had bought the shorter heater, but that might have introduced problems using the existing wiring).

2) The 1/2" cpvc I picked up seems to have a little flexibility but I am worried about routing it from the pressure valve to the existing copper tubing. The last plumber really created a funky joint to make that work.

Any ideas appreciated.

Last edited by lhpdiver; 10-23-11 at 02:12 PM.
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Old 10-23-11, 04:26 PM
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A picture might help the pros here help you.
Old 10-23-11, 05:32 PM
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I think that sharkbites are insanely expensive and I wouldn't use them for that reason alone. Unless your local code prohibits the use of flexible connectors that is what I would recommend. Remember that CPVC piping must be at least 18 inches from the water heater itself. Also, it has been my experience that CPVC gets brittle as it ages. I would avoid the CPVC as much as I would avoid the sharkbites.
Old 10-23-11, 05:47 PM
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Is this gas or electric?

There are codes on how much metal pipe must come off the water heater before it transitions to plastic piping.

Additionally if its gas and you run sharkbits too close to the flue, I would thing heat will deteriorate the shark bits and leaks can develop.

"Pipe it right, pipe it once"!!!!

Mike NJ
Old 10-24-11, 05:33 AM
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I agree about the SharkBite price but for the DIYer with limited soldering skills and a small project they make a lot of sense. The other plus for SharkBite is time savings.

SharkBite certifies their products to 200*F. I'm not sure why an O ring might deteriorate at 120* any more than it would at 80*. In an exposed installation such as a hot water heater I would not be at all concerned about using a SharkBite.
Old 10-24-11, 10:55 AM
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Well I _think_ I'm done with this project (but I hope I don't jinx anything by saying that).

I ended up using the 12" sharkbite flexible connectors but because of the limited space I had to work with I put a 2 inch piece of copper tubing and an extra 90 degree coupling on the hot and cold water outlets. I still had to move the water heater away a bit so as not to crimp the flexible tubing.

This should be a link to the image:

I do have one question - there is the slightest little hissing sound coming from the pressure valve. I'm a scuba diver and at times there is a hissing sound at the o-ring where the regulalor is attached to the tank. I called GE support but the sound is so faint they couldn't hear it. She thought it might be the valve and is over-nighting me a replacement. I did NOT tighten anything on the heater when I took it out of the box.

Might this hissing sound be normal ? (I've never paid this much attention to a water heater before).

Thank you.

Last edited by lhpdiver; 10-24-11 at 12:32 PM.
Old 10-24-11, 03:33 PM
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I no longer hear the hissing sound. Perhaps it was somehow related to the initial startup of the heater ??

In looking at the photo I posted already I can see some things I might do differently but for about $50 or so (without counting all the stuff going back to HD) and a little more than 1 hour (without counting draining the old heater while I was shopping) we have hot water !!

The worst case quote was $450 for this job which included $150 permit fee (from a very legitimate business from whom we bought our last a/c unit). Geez...

I placed a call to sharkbite's corporate headquarters and I think I got in touch with someone who normally wouldn't answer the phone :-). We had a pretty good conversation. I mentioned I could have used a 6" flexible connector as well as a 1/2 flexible connector for the pressure valve.

And then taking into account the little girl at GE support who was so prompt to send a possible faulty part... man this has been a pretty decent experience.

Thanks all for your help. If my photo shows a potential problem please let me know.

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