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Plumbing in the Home/Copper plumbing and lifting Hot Water Tank


We live in Athens, Ohio, home of Ohio University. Our first home proved too small, so we moved up and kept the house as a rental. The current tenants surprised us 3 weeks from the end of the lease, pointing out the toilet supply valve is leaking. It's the only toilet in the only bath in the house, and needed to be addressed. After replacing the valve, the leak was worse than ever. I replaced the 9 inch flexible supply line and it appears to have done the trick. But I noticed the pipe stub coming out of the wall is has threads, meaning it's iron or steel. Yet I know from first hand insulating that the 1966 house was plumbed with 1/2 copper. Is this unusual?
Second, Someone had a soft water tank at one time, and it's been removed, with a double hand-faucet valve on either end of a rubber U-jumper. I have been using one of these valves as the all-house shut off for years, but it's developed a leak. Today, it will shut off, but leaks like a sive. Attempting to hard plumb with a pair of copper 1/2 90 degree elbows, I couldn't get them to seal (solder leak) and the clerk at Lowes suggested cutting the one that leaked out, and putting a brass compression L on instead. (I'm going to replumb the hot water tank in a month, and change it all around anyway.)  I've never heard of these "shark teeth" compression fittings. Should I trust this?
Third, the local city has banned any ignition source below 18 inches off the floor in a garage. (Gas fume ignition concerns.) So I am about to drain and lift the gas water heater, requiring replumbing the water AND gas lines, changing the shut of valve, and physically lifting the tank and exhaust vent 18 inches. Any caveats?

Hello Kirk, It looks like you have your work cut out for you.

1. Some plumbers actually use brass nipples for their stub outs in this might explain why there are threads on this pipe. Try scratching the finish on the pipe to see if it is silver (galvanized steel) or brass colored.
Alternately, the re-pipe job may have only been on the horizontal runs and the original steel risers are still in place. The only way to tell is to crawl and look at all the risers going up through the floor.

2. The sharkbite fittings are fine if properly installed. There are multiple configurations and piping types that can be connected using them.

3. To raise the water heater, you will need a platform of some kind. You can build one yourself but it needs to be pretty beefy since a full storage water heater could weigh 600 pounds or more. There are also manufactured versions made of plastic and or sheet metal.

The pressure on residential gas lines is very low, typically less than one half PSI. This can easily be stopped off with a thumb. This will save you having to shut off the gas to the house and then go back and re-light everything.  Unless the gas stub out will be in the way of the new water heater platform, you could probably just get a new, longer stainless steel flex.

For the water connections, I highly recommend a minimum 3/4 inch, full port ball valve rather than a gate valve.  I'd also recommend braided stainless steel flex lines for the hot and cold supply lines. Much easier to connect unless your local ordinances require that the water heater be hard piped.

Good Luck,

Plumbing in the Home

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Dana Bostick


Pretty much any residential plumbing questions. For "item specific" details such as a specific model of fixture, I will need to research and there may not be any useful information available. Note: I live and work in Southern California. We do not, as a rule, use hot water or steam heating systems, oil fired boilers or private water wells so my knowledge in those areas is pretty limited. There are others here on AllExerts that can probably answer those questions better.


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