Installing water heaters, storage tanks in drain pans

When positioning storage tanks and water heaters in metal drain pans, it can be tricky getting the pan’s drain fitting and the heater’s water connections in the desired positions. The heater tends to “grab” the pan, which moves with the heater or tank.

I have found two things that can help with this issue:

  • Spray the inside of the metal pan with WD-40 or other lubricant before placing the tank inside. This allows the heater or tank to move independently from the pan’s position.

  • If the position of the pan’s drain fitting has been determined, the pan can be first secured to the floor or support structure with a fast-setting construction adhesive.

As an addendum to installing tanks in drain pans: In California we must secure the water heaters and storage tanks to the building’s structure with earthquake straps. Usually four metal straps are bolted to the structure and then “dangle” in mid-air until they are bolted together.

I use welding magnets to hold the straps against the metal tank’s shell as a third set of hands. This allows us to secure one and then the other strap without the straps getting in the way.

Bob Danielson

Active Solar Co.

Moreno Valley, Calif. 


Easy repair with SharkBite fittings

Soldering a branch tee to an existing water line that has not been drained completely can be frustrating and time-consuming. Pressure builds up in the line and blows out the solder.

Take a 6-in. piece of copper pipe and sweat a ball valve on one end. Insert the other end into a SharkBite tee. Now install the assembly into the water line and you can have the water back on quickly.

With the ball valve in place, you can use whatever piping material you choose to finish the job.

Barney Ritchie


Removing tub and shower valves

When removing stems from Sayco tub and shower valves, I find a regular tub socket does not work well. I made one using a 13/16-in. deep well spark plug socket with a hex end on the back of the socket, which I found at Home Depot. I drilled out the end where the socket wrench goes into so the end of the stem would fit. Then I put my adjustable wrench onto the outside of the socket and loosened the stem.   

Jim Mancuso

After Five Plumbing

Spartanburg, S.C.


Send Us Your Tool Tips

If you have an idea that has saved you time and money, Plumbing & Mechanical would like to share your tip with our readers. The first-place winner each month will receive a Kinetic Water Ram from General Pipe Cleaners with a retail value of $325. Read here for more details.