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What are my chances removing a nipple from a 7 year old gas water heater tank?

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Jells
Jells Member Posts: 566
I've heard that getting out a factory nipple is a bear, and the dip tubes are integral. This is the HW out side, so presumably the plastic I see is just the dielectric insulator, not an actual dip tube. Do I just try to muscle this thing out with a big pipe wrench? Obviously I should disconnect the gas 1st, but it there any trick other than brute force?

Full story: It was slow leaking at the nipple, and when I removed the copper adapter about 2 or 3 threads were broken off on one side of the pipe, so there was a semi-circle of thread still on one side. I didn't try and remove it, I cleaned both adapter and nipple up good and threading it back on tight with teflon dope. No go. Still leaking. Figured I'd ask the experienced, rather than create a disaster and have no HW there till I get a new tank.

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  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 22,144
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    They are typically galvanized nipples into a steel tank. Factory installed with plenty of thread dope,
    They should be easily removed with an 18” pipe wrench.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
    Jells
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    Thanks Bob. When I googled it I got a lot of stuff about it being hard, like someone complaining they must put them in with an impact wrench! I guess I'll put the wrench to it tomorrow and see if I get lucky. The hard part is that I'm working alone and it'll be hard to keep the tank from turning. It's in a closet so even with a 2nd person they might not be useful. I might try putting a ratchet strap around the top rim to give me something to grip.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,690
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    @Jells
    I'm not very experienced in this but I did remove the anode from my Bradford White heater and replace it after 5 years or so.

    I also replaced that heater 2 years ago. At the time it was 10 years old and I was able to remove the anode and diptube without any issue.

    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • Intplm.
    Intplm. Member Posts: 1,960
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    @Jells

    I have had the entire water heater spin when when removing a top plug.Full of water or not. Have some help near by if this starts happening to you.
  • Mad Dog_2
    Mad Dog_2 Member Posts: 6,933
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    100 % Change of getting it out...Whether it leaks later is the question....mad Dog 🐕 
    mattmia2PC7060
  • EBEBRATT-Ed
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 15,527
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    As Larry said put a bolt in the nipple or thread a fitting on the top thread if you have enough room for the wrench. A hammer on the wrench is a good idea the "shock " usually breaks it loose.
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    As Larry said put a bolt in the nipple or thread a fitting on the top thread if you have enough room for the wrench. A hammer on the wrench is a good idea the "shock " usually breaks it loose.
    The problem with putting something inside is that there is already the dielectric liner, I could try to drill it out but that would mean the plastic would be dropping inside the tank. Don't know if this is the kind that dissolves and gets into every aerator and such, had a dip tube that dissolved causing me to have to put a screen filter on the tank output.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 15,690
    edited February 28
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    Jells said:



    As Larry said put a bolt in the nipple or thread a fitting on the top thread if you have enough room for the wrench. A hammer on the wrench is a good idea the "shock " usually breaks it loose.


    The problem with putting something inside is that there is already the dielectric liner, I could try to drill it out but that would mean the plastic would be dropping inside the tank. Don't know if this is the kind that dissolves and gets into every aerator and such, had a dip tube that dissolved causing me to have to put a screen filter on the tank output.


    If the plastic was the kind that dissolves, wouldn't it be doing that right now submerged in hot water?
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
    reggi
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    ChrisJ said:
    As Larry said put a bolt in the nipple or thread a fitting on the top thread if you have enough room for the wrench. A hammer on the wrench is a good idea the "shock " usually breaks it loose.
    The problem with putting something inside is that there is already the dielectric liner, I could try to drill it out but that would mean the plastic would be dropping inside the tank. Don't know if this is the kind that dissolves and gets into every aerator and such, had a dip tube that dissolved causing me to have to put a screen filter on the tank output.
    If the plastic was the kind that dissolves, wouldn't it be doing that right now submerged in hot water?
    Tell it to the dip tube that dissolved on my Triangle Tube indirect! My shower heads and aerators were getting clogged with small particles of something that I couldn't figure out the origin.  Apparently it was some sort of manufacturing or specification error, it happened to a lot of them.  Basically you're correct, but once you have been trampled by zebras you keep an eye out for them!
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,297
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    Hi @Jells , use a 1/2" easy out. Twist it in nice and snug. You won't risk getting any plastic bits into the tank, and although the pipe could deform a little, it can't get out of round enough to make it break off at the tank. No Zebras! :p

    Yours, Larry
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    Hi @Jells , use a 1/2" easy out. Twist it in nice and snug. You won't risk getting any plastic bits into the tank, and although the pipe could deform a little, it can't get out of round enough to make it break off at the tank. No Zebras! :p Yours, Larry
    Thanks. Funny I was going to use an easy out with a 3/4 outside diameter as the piece inside the pipe to keep it from collapsing. Just what I had. But interestingly, when I went to the heater armed with that and a 3/4 drill and a pipe wrench, I found the leak had stopped!  It had been like a drop or two a minute, not a big leak, and I assume that a glob of dope got sucked into it and plugged it up!

    Well, I'm not dumb enough to mess with something that's working. The water heater is in a pan with a leak alarm, so I'll know if it starts dripping again.
    Rickoo
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 3,297
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    Hi, You got lucky, at least in the near term. I'd have a look at it at least once a month and see if it remains good. Leaks from the top can kill tanks as the tank have no protection on the outside. Mineral in the water and/or rust can slow and stop a leak, but the rust... it doesn't sleep... so you can wind up with a bigger leak down the road. Just watch it. You'll know when it's time to get the tools out. ;)

    Yours, Larry
  • Jells
    Jells Member Posts: 566
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    Hi, You got lucky, at least in the near term. I'd have a look at it at least once a month and see if it remains good.

    The leak detector worked like a charm. Gotta give it kudos. My tenant said the heater was beeping, didn't recognize an SOS!
    Larry Weingarten
  • Sootmaster
    Sootmaster Member Posts: 14
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    Just replace the water heater - they're disposable.
    mattmia2Intplm.