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Warning- Factory Installed nipples on new water heaters from HD and Lowe’s cannot be removed easily!
Knowing that this nipple connection can be the first point of failure in ten years or so, I wanted to install something more robust and have a lot of tape and dope on it to prevent seizing. Turns out it’s seized right out of the box, so here’s an advanced method of removal not for the faint of heart.
Also, the factory installs an EPDM anti-thermosiphon washer on both the inlet and outlet nipples. It’s a good design – just a flat rubber disc with a star cut in the middle. It doesn’t add much flow restriction, and allows flow in either direction, but prevents any thermosiphoning heat loss from either port.
Unfortunately, I was trying to balance flow between two tanks in parallel, and this feature was causing a large imbalance, so it had to go. The only way to remove it was by removing the nipples, since it is captured between the nipple and the dip tube.
One of the typical tools used for nipple extraction, an ID pipe nipple wrench, wasn’t an option for these nipples. Since they have a plastic sleeve on the ID, it would have just spun in place.
NOTE: The 500 ft.lb. pneumatic impact wrench shown didn’t work! I had to use a 30″ breaker bar with my assistant bear-hugging the full tank.