Hot water cylinder question

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I'm in France. The house has a new hot water cylinder (heats via immersion/heatpump), with PEX cold in and hot out pipes, connected to copper piping after a few feet. There's no cold tank, it's fed directly from the mains in. The rest of the plumbing is a muddle of different sized copper piping, a lot of it too small. I would like to refit the whole lot with PEX as part of the refurb.

Presumably, I will have to drain the tank to reconnect the in and out pipes? or can it be done by just shutting the gate valve and keeping it full? The tank is in a place where a bit (or even a lot) of water on the floor is no big deal.

Thanks
 
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Not sure what the rules are in France, but over here in Blighty you're not allowed to do any work on these cylinders without the proper qualifications
 

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