Another leak

This isn’t a glamorous post but it is a very teachable moment. I ran into another problem today caused partially by me and partially by the extremely tight space for our water heater. (Which is caused by the fact that we can’t get a tiny house taller than 12 feet out of this location).

This odd connection includes a galvanized 45° street elbow that I really didn’t want to install in such a tight location due to the poorly machined galvanized threads tending to leak. Having dealt with galvanized pipe leaks many times in the past I am completely fine to pay quadruple the price for brass but I couldn’t find this fitting locally so I just bought galvanized, slathered it in pipe dope, wrenched it hard and crossed my fingers.

It didn’t work and after all my attempts to stop the leak failed, I decided to just go straight pex into the water heater. This wouldn’t have worked on the upper connection where temperatures from the solar and woodfired loops would be too high but luckily down here I still had that option.

I always knew this was a possibility so I made a deliberate choice to use the narrow pex crimping rings in this location. This style ring can be pried apart or gently cut away with an angle grinder. I also always leave enough pex between fittings that I can cut and couple which is another way to deal with this.

Note: the fitting adapter I used for the water heater nipple should be the swivel type, this is just what I had on hand. Also I don’t have a dedicated water heater shut off because the main shut off is close by.

In situations like this where you can’t move either end of a connection it can be challenging to get a short piece of pex in place without kinking the tubing. The VERY gentle application of heat with a heat gun can be helpful as long as you don’t overdo it and damage the pex.

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