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Whirlpool HWH - Repalcing heat trap nipples?

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We got a leak at the top of the water heater (Whirlpool E1F40R045V). Replaced the supply hoses hoping the leak was not a the heat trap nipples. We no such luck. Is the only way to replace the heat trap nipples to remove the top cover? It'll mean having to drain the WH and moving it to access the screws on the top cover (located along the sides).



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