A flexible hose can be used on water heaters to minimize leaks caused by movements or to fit in tight spaces.
Flexible pipe connections for tanked and tankless water heaters are economical, proven, easy to install, and recommended when the piping must bend and maneuver in tight spaces.
This article will explain why and how you can use a flex hose on a water heater and provide the exact type to use to prevent unwanted leakage over time.
Is it OK to use a flexible Hose for a water heater?
Using a flexible hose for connecting a water heater is generally not recommended. Water heaters typically require a rigid pipe connection to ensure proper safety and prevent leaks.
Flexible hoses are commonly used to connect appliances like washing machines or dishwashers.
However, some flex hoses can withstand the heated or hot water from a water heater and provide prolonged protection compared to rigid lines.
Flexible lines are fine as long as you get the corrugated steel on the outside and not the braided.
Flex hoses are more practical in areas with more vibration and are more prone to earthquakes and shaking which can cause leaks.
If you find there is shaking or movement of your water heater, specialized straps are available to secure the heater to a sturdy structure or wall that will prevent any movement.
If you are looking for the perfect type of flex hose to use, you can check the Corrugated Flexible Stainless Steel Water Heater Connector.
Types of Flex Pipes
|Types of Flexible Water Supply Tubing||Characteristics||Pros||Cons|
|PVC||Solid PVC plastic, sometimes reinforced with braided nylon||Least expensive||Not for exposed areas|
|Braided nylon||PVC core with solid nylon fiber outer sheathing||Affordably priced||Not for exposed areas|
|Polymer-coated||PVC core inside tough, flexible polymer plastic sheathing||Attractive appearance, very durable and flexible||Somewhat expensive|
|Stainless steel braided||PVC or nylon core protected by double-layer sheathing of polymer and stainless steel fibers||Attractive appearance, available in long lengths, very durable||Most expensive|
It is important to not that although there are different types of flex lines available in the market, not all will be suited for use for application in a water heater.
Are Flex Hoses Safe to be Used on Water Heaters?
It’s important to choose a flex hose specifically designed for use with hot water, as regular flex hoses may not withstand the high temperatures generated by the water heater.
A leaking water heater is dangerous because the water can flood the room where your water heater is stored. This can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your floor.
Flexible lines are fine as long as you get the corrugated steel on the outside and not the braided. The braided has rubber inside that degrades when subjected to heat for prolonged periods.
Many braided water heater flexes choke the water down with a smaller opening. Copper flexes have larger inner diameters for better water flow, and it should be connected by a nut to nut and not a nut to sweat.
Pros and Cons of Using Flexible Hose
|Pros of Using Flexible Hose||Cons of Using Flexible Hose|
|– Suitable for closed positions and awkward installations||– Limited shelf life despite warranties|
|– Easy to source due to affordability||– Potential failure of stainless braided lining|
|– Improved safety||– Risk of tube expansion and bursting|
|– Easy installation||– Potential severe consequences of burst hoses|
|– Cost-effective||– Risks of flooding, mold growth, water damage to ceilings, walls, furniture, carpets, and electrical appliances|
|– Durable and flexible||– Most severe cases can include collapsed roofs and foundational damage|
|– More reliable than copper and aluminum corrugated hoses, which can fracture if bent too many times|
Are flexible pipes more prone to leakage compared to rigid pipes?
Flexible pipes are generally more prone to leakage compared to rigid pipes. This is because flexible pipes are typically made of plastic or rubber, which can be more susceptible to wear and tear, degradation, and damage.
The flexibility of these pipes allows for expansion, contraction, bending, and movement, which can increase the likelihood of leaks over time.
Additionally, the joints and connections in flexible pipes may be less secure and more susceptible to leakage than solid pipes’ rigid connections.
However, it is important to note that the likelihood of leakage also depends on factors such as the materials’ quality, installation techniques, and maintenance practices.
Is it OK to use a flexible gas line for a water heater?
The flexible gas line can be used to connect to a water heater. A flexible gas line is used on gas dryers due to vibration. The flexible line has to be approved for gas.
The best connection to water heaters is with the newer braided, steel-jacketed flexible hoses.
They are more reliable than copper and aluminum corrugated hoses, which fracture if bent too many times.
However, in some states such as Illinois, water heaters require the water pipes and gas to be hard piped.
Again, the best connection to water heaters is with the newer braided, steel-jacketed flexible hoses.
How to Install Flex Lines on a Water Heater
Installing flex lines on a water heater is a relatively simple process that can be done with a few basic tools.
Here are the steps to follow:
1. Turn off the power and water supply to the water heater.
This can usually be done by switching off the circuit breaker or turning off the gas supply valve and shutting off the water supply valve to the heater.
2. Drain the water heater.
Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater and place the other end of the hose in a suitable drainage area. Open the drain valve to allow the water to drain out completely.
3. Remove the old water supply lines.
Use a wrench or pliers to loosen and disconnect the existing water supply lines from the water heater. Be careful to catch any remaining water that may still be in the lines.
4. Measure and cut the flex lines.
Measure the distance between the water heater and the supply lines. Use a pipe cutter or hacksaw to cut the flex lines to the appropriate length. It is recommended to leave a slight excess length to allow for adjustments during installation.
5. Install the flex lines.
Attach one end of each flex line to the water heater’s hot and cold water supply connections. Tighten the fittings securely using a wrench or pliers. Make sure the lines are properly aligned and not twisted.
6. Connect the other end of the flex lines to the supply lines.
Attach the threaded end of each flex line to the corresponding hot and cold water supply pipes. Use a wrench or pliers to tighten the fittings securely.
7. Turn on the water supply.
Slowly open the water supply valve to refill the water heater. Check for any leaks around the connections and tighten them further if necessary.
8. Check for leaks and test the water heater.
Turn on the power or gas supply to the water heater and allow it to heat the water.
Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult a professional if you are unsure or uncomfortable with performing the installation yourself.
Flexible Gas Line Water Heater Code
After going through the building code requirements for water heaters I have not seen a specific requirement for the type of line that should be used on a water heater.
The code that governs how water heaters are connected varies from state to state, and It is all relative to where you are.
For example, in the California Plumbing Code, flex connectors use is MANDATORY and in Illinois, water heaters require the water pipes and gas to be hard piped.
In Washington, you can use flex on water and gas.
In areas with higher risks of vibration or movement caused by earthquakes the use of flex lines for water heaters are granted ok.
Can you Use Copper Flex Pipe For Water Heater?
Yes, copper flex pipes can be used for water heaters. Copper is a common material used for plumbing due to its durability, resistance to corrosion, and ability to handle high temperatures.
Copper flex pipes are flexible and easy to install, making them suitable for connecting water heaters.
These pipes should be insulted properly to prevent heat loss as well as a protection from causing burns when in close contact.
However, checking local plumbing codes and regulations is important to ensure that copper flex pipes are allowed in your area. Additionally, it is recommended to consult a professional plumber to install water heater pipes.