Thursday, May 24, 2007

Cutting and Threading Gas Pipe

Here is part two of the water heater story from last year......

The Old Fence & Threading Gas Pipes
Thursday, June 08, 2006

After I finished yesterdays entry I went on a search for the picture I knew was in my possession. A famous picture in my family: it is of me painting that bloody picket fence back in 1967. I finally I found it where it was not supposed to be. Here is a “happy Brick” finishing up the southern section of the fence. There were three pickets that were installed with screws so we could cross through to the neighbor’s yard!

Today I pretty much finished up the worst of the gas line installation by mid afternoon. The water heater was delivered by UPS late this morning. Now I can figure out how the installation will be done. It is so much easier when you can see it in person. The heater weighs 60 pounds. That is a lot of weight to be hanging off the siding of this house. What I plan on doing is: make a frame of 2x4’s the size of the heater and cover that in exterior plywood. That will be fastened to the siding and will make a sturdy base for the heater. The panel will be painted to match the house. I will install the unit onto this panel. This kind of contemplation over my projects was how I would occupy my mind at work. How this entire project will be done is slowly working itself out.

I have the chance to go to Pensacola with Gary and Larry this weekend. Part of me wants to go, but the other part says no. I think the “no” side will win out. I can take Larry in small segments; I can’t imagine an entire weekend with him.

Besides, I’m anxious to get this water heater mounted so I can do the final gas line installation done. Then I can start on the new copper water lines and get this nightmare finished.

That is where the project stands as of Thursday afternoon. While I was threading pipe in the workshop this morning, I set the camera on the packing box the heater came in to see if I could capture a Kodak moment. So, here is a good comparison of what a difference 40 years makes!

Tankless Water Heater

I just read on the boards some questions on tankless water heaters. I installed a unit last year. Here is a cut and paste of the beginning of that ordeal from my everyday blog....

Cutting Gas Lines
Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Monday was internet shopping day for me. Researching the differences between tankless water heating systems I found a great Memorial Day sale that ended midnight on the 5th on a good system. (

After I ordered the thing I downloaded the instructions. I decided on doing an external installation. The venting of these systems is tricky, and the venting kits can really run into money. Being in Alabama I don’t have to worry about freezing temps. It is supposed to be safe to 5 degrees. It VERY seldom gets that cold here. Going through the instructions I realized where I originally was going to put the thing will not be to code. The vent has to be four feet away from any window or door opening. That is what my entire house is: windows and doors! I will be able to put the heater on the back wall by the shower and be to code.

This is turning out to be one of those classic “mushroom projects.” That is when a simple job grows way out of proportion. It just keeps mushrooming!

Because of the new location of the installation, the gas line will have to run about 40 feet from the meter. The fittings added to this feeder line will also slow down the gas flow. With all this in mind the supply gas line has to be 1” in diameter. The place where I planned on tapping into the gas line at the meter is ¾ inch. To remedy this I had to switch out the Tee fitting from the meter to 1”. A simple job? Not on your life!

To do this entailed cutting the two pipes, one pipe was 1” and the other was ¾” coming off the tee. These pipes were removed, and then the Tee was switched out. This all had to be done in the crawl space with not a lot of room to move around.

While doing this I removed more pipe work to simplify the gas runs. There were gas runs backtracking all over. Now the current hot water tank, gas fireplace, stove and gas dryer all come off one main gas line. The main cut line had to have a union installed.

Finally I had everything back together by 7:30. The gas was turned back on and all the connections were tested with soapy water. If there is any leak the soap will bubble up like crazy. It all passed inspection!

This tank requires the water intake come from a ¾ line. When they replumbed my house with copper tubing I think they got the pipe from a remnant store. The main supply lines go from ¾ to ½ and then back to ¾. This has a great effect on the water pressure. Just think of a highway that has a set amount of traffic that goes from two lanes to one, and then back to two lanes again. Here is a picture of what I have to contend with. Every branch off the main water lines to supply the sinks, toilets, and tubs is a conglomeration of tiny bits of copper pipes sweated sloppily together. This mess has been a bone of contention to me since I bought the house 10 years ago. Pretty much everything will have to be redone.

That is where I stand today. Central Plumbing is just around the corner; they will be seeing my mug when I go there to get 1” galvanized pipe today. I will run the new line to where the tank will be installed and cap it off. Then gas line work will be finished and I can dig into the water lines.

All the while I was fussing with the galvanized pipe I was thinking of my dad. He taught me how to work pipe wrenches, measure and cut pipe, and most importantly the right way to thread pipe.

Dad was taught by his Uncle Joel, who was a second father to him. “Uncle Joe” was a craftsman when it came to plumbing and carpentry. He taught dad skills and dad passed that knowledge on to me. Poor dad, I can still hear him lamenting how I would be handicapped for the rest of my life because I was left handed.

While I was working using Dad’s old thread cutting dies and pipe vice: threading that galvanized pipe, I knew he was looking over me with a smile.

I always felt I was such a disappointment to him because I was never interested in team sports. Growing up I’d hear how so and so’s son on the football or baseball team did so well at the game. In time, many of these stars turned out to be real losers: I know dad took pride in what I accomplished on my own.

Dad died too young at 67. When he was dying in Buffalo General we were talking about how I hated painting the backyard picket fence. There was never any question about me not doing it. I was told to do the job and I did. The fence was divided off into sections; I’d try to get one section done a day. This was oil based paint back then. It was such a pain to work with, when I was done for the day the brushes had to be totally cleaned out in gasoline. When dad would come home from he would inspect my progress for drips and runs. Oh how he would rant and go on if I screwed up. Today this would be called abuse. Looking back, it was a learning experience that set my standards higher than a “half assed” job.

Poor Dad lamented that he was too hard and would always remember that as such a bad time. I think I was able to convince him that I was thankful he cared enough about me to put me through that. Because of that early training I always try to do the best job I can. “If you can’t do a job right, don’t do it all.” was one of Dad’s favorite sayings.

Dad was not a perfect father. That person does not exist, but he did the best he could and he loved his family. You can’t ask for much more than that.