As shown in the picture, I have green crust at the elbow of the copper exit pipe (I'm assuming its the exit pipe because its warm to the touch and encased in pipe insulation) coming out of the top of my water heater. It also drips a little. I know from reading other posts that I need to replace that elbow. I plan on replacing it with a Sharkbite corrugated stainless steel water heater connector.

My question is, do I need to drain the water heater before I cut the old copper pipe, or is it sufficient to just shut the water supply off to the water heater?

Also, is there any reason to shut off the gas supply to the water heater while I'm working on that pipe if I'm not sweating any joints?

TWater heater exit elbowhanks.

1 Answer 1


There is no need to drain the tank. You will probably get some small amount of water on the floor but the tank will not run onto the floor. Make sure that the main water supply valve is shut off. The Shark Bite supply is a good idea. Get one with the valve build in. Just turn the control gas valve into the vacation mode while working on the water supply. Then back on again when done.

  • It sounds like you have the luxury of turning the water heater off the night before you do the work... it might be nice to have tepid water flowing, rather than scalding. You might also test the shutoff valves in advance, just in case. My other concern is that you don't look like you have much length before the elbow (to fit the sharkbite on)... you might be sweating after all. Jan 14, 2018 at 5:36
  • What is the value of adding a shutoff valve to the exit line? Wouldn't having one on the entering line cover any problems? Jan 14, 2018 at 10:32

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