Sunday, March 8, 2020

Water heater wars.........

7:52 am - Sunday - March 8th - Wittmann, AZ - 52° F, 54% humidity, wind 2 mph out of the east.  Cloudy today with a forecast high of 70° F.

Saturday began with a flourish, and ended in triumph.  My goal for Saturday was to demo my 38 year old leaking water heater, but before that task was begun I attached a water hose to the pressure relief valve, then connected it to my pressure washer to clean my rear facing radiator.  It's been about 14 months since I last cleaned the radiator in Inverness, FL at the home of our Newell friends, Richard and Rhonda.  I had noticed that driving from Borrego Springs to Winterhaven for our dental appointments the temperature of the coolant was running about 5 degrees warmer than normal, and this trend continued for our final drive into Wittmann.  This is always a sign that it is time to clean the radiator once again.  So the last official act of our dying water heater was to provide hot water for the cleaning of the radiator, and she performed well.  Once that was complete it just remained to remove the old girl and begin the prep for the installation of our new Girard Tankless water heater pictured below......↴

.....of course, I have written about the 'Hockwald Way' several times in the past.  The 'Hockwald Way' means every task takes 3 times longer than one might least three times longer than I might expect.  My friend Tom says I should have no expectations about how long any task will take.  I'm retired and should just let it take as long as it takes.  Unfortunately for me that is not how my mind works, but I will admit since I became retired, or retarded as my friend Steve Ward says, I do not rush through projects like I did during my workaday life when the weekends were set aside for projects, and in most cases I always endeavored to finish them within the confines of the weekend.  This rush to finish a project in two days sometimes led to less than perfect outcomes.  Now I take my time to get it done right.

I began by disconnecting the gas line, the cold water line, the hot water line, and the two lines which fed hot coolant through the water heater when we were under way keeping our water hot even when the water heater was shut down for travel.  Once that was done, and it really wasn't very difficult, I turned my attention to the umpteen sheet metal screws affixing the water heater flange to the exterior of the coach.  We have what is called a 'side vent' water heater, which is a typical installation in shorter RV's.  Side vent tankless water heaters have been on the market for a number of years, and now that our original gas only water heater is being retired I decided to go with that more modern, more efficient tankless option.

Once the umpteen sheet metal screws had been removed I began to try and pry it loose.  I even went inside, sat on the floor, and with my back against my closet door I put my feet on the back of the water heater and pushed.....I managed to move it about 2" outward, but then it stopped, and would not budge beyond that point.  Initially I could see no reason why it would not move, but then discovered three sheet metal screws which had been used to secure the water heater when the coach was still under construction.  There was no way I could access those screws now to remove them, so I had to drill them out, which was not an easy proposition, but after about an hour they were no longer an issued.  I was then able to push the water heater out until only 2" remained still inside the compartment.  Then it stopped again, and would not budge!  Uggggghh!

All the while the aforementioned was in progress my friend Tom was there to lend a hand when necessary, giving moral support, and an occasional idea on what to try next.  I could not have gotten the last 2" removed without his help.  Finally we decided the only way to get it out was to remove the brass elbow fittings on the backside of the water heater so we could remove the tank itself from the sheet metal enclosure, and then cut the sheet metal enclosure out as it was what was preventing the complete removal......

.....once that was done the water heater, and sheet metal enclosure were easily, and finally removed.  By this time it was after 2:30 pm, and I needed to head to Home Depot in Surprise to buy some Pex tubing, Sharkbite push-to-connect fittings, and a new gas line to install the new Girard Tankless water heater......  


.....this is my first experience using Pex and Sharkbite fittings, but my friend Tom has, and gave me a lot of good advice on what to get.  Amazingly, I managed to come away with exactly everything I needed. Included in what I needed was a flexible Sharkbite tube to temporarily connect the old cold and hot water lines so we could have at least cold water in the coach until the Girard Tankless water heater installation is complete.  As far as showers are concerned we have the use of the bathroom in Tom's Newell House until I am done.

As you can see below there is a large corroded spot on the underside of the old water heater tank where it was leaking.  She served us well for over 12 years, but it is now time to move ito the 21st century.....↴

One of my first tasks after arriving back home was to temporarily connect the cold and hot water lines to restore water to our coach.....I had to cut off the old brass compression fittings from the end of each 1/2" copper pipe.......

.......and then install the 'push-to-connect' flexible hose onto the end of each pipe......WOW.....super easy!

Water pressure is restored!

Once that was done I turned my attention to cutting the flange off the old water heater so I can reattach that to the opening on the outside of the coach, and thereby reattach the original door.....

.....Tom lent me his Porter Cable cutting wheel to cut off the flange.....easy peasy........

 The old water heater sans flange

......I forgot to mention that Tom lent me two vice grips to squeeze shut the chassis coolant hoses so they won't leak coolant until I join them together to allow the coolant to continue circulating......

.....that marked the end of the 'water heater battles' for Saturday.  Festivities will resume sometime Sunday when I fill cut out and fit the new frame for the the Girard Tankless water heater, which is smaller than the old water heater.  Getting everything ready for the installation will probably take most of Sunday, but that's okay......I'm retired.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the links to the pex and the fittings and I hope today goes well for you!!