My electric water heater won't drain... - Homesteading Today
Homesteading Today

Go Back   Homesteading Today > General Homesteading Forums > Homesteading Questions


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Rate Thread
  #1  
Old 03/16/09, 05:06 PM
VERN in IL's Avatar
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 1,004
Post My electric water heater won't drain...

I just shocked my well, and was going to drain the water heater, apparently it is stopped up inside the tank, no water coming out of the valve...

Now I KNOW that sooner or later my element will burn up(overheat) because of all the nasties in the tank.

My question is; is this water heater toast? and how do I get the water out so I can move it out easily?

__________________

I see a very dark cloud on America's horizon,
and that cloud is coming from Rome.
- Abraham Lincoln
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 03/16/09, 05:13 PM
aka avdpas77
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: central Missouri
Posts: 3,340
Quote:
Originally Posted by VERN in IL View Post
I just shocked my well, and was going to drain the water heater, apparently it is stopped up inside the tank, no water coming out of the valve...

Now I KNOW that sooner or later my element will burn up(overheat) because of all the nasties in the tank.

My question is; is this water heater toast? and how do I get the water out so I can move it out easily?
I am assuming you have already turned on one of your hot water faucets on a sink somewhere. You might be able to put an air hose, if you have one into the end of the drain valve an blow the debris back into the tank.
__________________
Moving to that big black hole in the night satellite photo.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03/16/09, 05:13 PM
Cabin Fever's Avatar
NRA LifeMember since 1976
 
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
Posts: 13,423

I assume you have a floor drain near the water heater. If so, I would put a wrench on the plugged valve and remove it slowly. When the water starts coming out through the threads, I'd just let it flow to the floor drain. In other words, don't totally remove the valve until the heater has drained. You may have to get creative in controlling the little streams of water that will be spouting off in several directions thru the threads.

If you have any other fixtures or valves below the elevation of the hot water heater, I would first drain the plumbing system through that fixture before removing the drain valve on the heater.

__________________
This is the government the Founding Fathers warned us about.....

Last edited by Cabin Fever; 03/16/09 at 05:16 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03/16/09, 05:29 PM
VERN in IL's Avatar
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 1,004

can I stick a wire thru the valve into the tank?

I have no floor drain, the water heater is in a mobile home, only the overflow drain.

I left the drain open hooked to the garden hose, and turned on the water, still nothing....

It's not the valve that is plugged, it works fine, just the water isn't getting TO the valve.

__________________

I see a very dark cloud on America's horizon,
and that cloud is coming from Rome.
- Abraham Lincoln
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03/16/09, 05:39 PM
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Zone 7
Posts: 10,317

Can you open a hot water line to the water heater and then back pressure the drain valve with compressed air? You should be able to blow the sediment back into the tank and open the blockage to the drain valve.

__________________

Agmantoo
If they can do it,
you know you can!

Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03/16/09, 05:44 PM
VERN in IL's Avatar
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 1,004
Quote:
Originally Posted by agmantoo View Post
Can you open a hot water line to the water heater and then back pressure the drain valve with compressed air? You should be able to blow the sediment back into the tank and open the blockage to the drain valve.
I would have to make an adaptor, but I can.
__________________

I see a very dark cloud on America's horizon,
and that cloud is coming from Rome.
- Abraham Lincoln
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03/16/09, 09:50 PM
 
Join Date: May 2002
Posts: 9,094

Dumb question here, but are you opening up the relief valve, allowing it to get air?

Screw open the bib, place bucket under it, open the relieve valve.

If you have quick release joints in the pipes, can you break those open to allow air in while draining the unit???

Last time I replaced the WH, I couldn't understand why water wasn't pouring out, and I popped open the valve, and it flowed like Niagara Falls.

Clove

__________________

Last edited by clovis; 03/16/09 at 09:53 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03/17/09, 08:36 AM
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 964

The last time I replaced the bottom element on our electric water heater, it wouldn't come out. Stuck in place with built up lime. This was was the water heater that came with the house. Nothing would come out of the drain at the bottom, either.

Due to a lack of money, (and being cheap) I cleaned out the lime. Wrenched off the bottom valve, and used an auger bit in the drill to start getting it out. A long rod and hammer broke up chunks small enough to come out the hole. A wire with a hook/loop snagged the pieces. Took a LOOONG time, but cheaper than a new heater.

Replaced the drain valve, installed a new element, and its been working ever since.

Michael

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03/17/09, 09:16 AM
watcher's Avatar
de oppresso liber
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 12,532

A couple of things. First off the valve. If the hose bip is plastic (which most of the are) just put a wrench on it and twist. It will either screw out or break off. Either way you'll be able to drain the tank. If it breaks off its really not that a big of a deal. Take a hacksaw blade and slowly and carefully cut through what is left in the hole in a couple of places until you can see the threads. Then you can pry it out in pieces. I've done the same thing with brass fittings, it just takes longer. Then you can replace the hose bib with a ball valve.

Now for cleaning the heater. We bought an OLD trailer and the water heater frizzted out. When I pulled the bottle element it was almost buried in lime. I took a piece of 1" PVC pipe, cut the 'top' off to make a skinny scoop long enough to reach to the back of the heater. Took a while but I scooped and hosed and hosed and scooped until I got it clean. Its been working fine ever since.

__________________

Remember, when seconds count. . .
the police are just MINUTES away!

Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. . .Davy Crockett

Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03/17/09, 09:50 AM
 
Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: Duplin Co. NC
Posts: 458

I don't want to hijack the thread, but I have a question about the bottom element. Could a bottom element be buried in sediment and not be shorted out? Mine doesn't seem to be heating, but when I hook a meter to it, it checks out as good.

Thanks,

Kendall

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03/17/09, 10:56 AM
watcher's Avatar
de oppresso liber
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 12,532
Quote:
Originally Posted by kendall j View Post
I don't want to hijack the thread, but I have a question about the bottom element. Could a bottom element be buried in sediment and not be shorted out? Mine doesn't seem to be heating, but when I hook a meter to it, it checks out as good.

Thanks,

Kendall
Yep. Been there, done that. What's probably happening is the element is working but its having to heat the gunk and the hot gunk is heating the water.
__________________

Remember, when seconds count. . .
the police are just MINUTES away!

Congress has no power to appropriate this money as an act of charity. Every member upon this floor knows it. . .Davy Crockett

Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 03/17/09, 11:02 AM
Katie
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Twining, Mi.
Posts: 19,741
Quote:
Originally Posted by clovis View Post
Dumb question here, but are you opening up the relief valve, allowing it to get air?

Screw open the bib, place bucket under it, open the relieve valve.

If you have quick release joints in the pipes, can you break those open to allow air in while draining the unit???

Last time I replaced the WH, I couldn't understand why water wasn't pouring out, and I popped open the valve, and it flowed like Niagara Falls.

Clove
Yep, when we had to replace the heating element in our electric hot water heater last year, we thought we had drained all the water out of the tank, then the pumber came to replace the heating element & opened up the valve at the top & the water came running out through the hose we had screwed on to the valve. Felt so dumb but at least we know now.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 03/17/09, 11:38 AM
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: Maryland
Posts: 264
HW heater

Just a reminder to shut off the electric to the heater before draining the tank. If, as others have suggested, you opened a hot water faucet or the relief valve and no luck you can try and remove the lower heating element to drain the water (be prepared for all the water in the tank when you start to remove the element). Examine the heating element, look inside tank with a flashlight. Price potential expenses (heating element, drain valve, your time and labor, effectiveness of the repair) and compare to the price of a new water heater. Determine why there is so much sediment and possible alternatives to eliminating the build-up (water filter, flushing the tank more often). Good luck.

__________________
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 03/17/09, 04:32 PM
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Indiana, USA
Posts: 10,817
Quote:
Originally Posted by VERN in IL View Post
can I stick a wire thru the valve into the tank?

I have no floor drain, the water heater is in a mobile home, only the overflow drain.

I left the drain open hooked to the garden hose, and turned on the water, still nothing....

It's not the valve that is plugged, it works fine, just the water isn't getting TO the valve.
I have opened water drains with a small piece of wire. Sometimes a small amount of lime, blocks the faucet opening. Sometimes it is a lot.

Go slow and make sure power is off. A couple of inches of wire should do it.
__________________
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 03/17/09, 07:00 PM
VERN in IL's Avatar
Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 1,004

On heating elements, what is the best type, the single "U" shaped ones, then there are the "U" shaped ones that are bent 360 at the middle and there are the "S" shaped ones.

Thanks for the suggestions, I do assume it is stopped up, as I did turn on the water to the heater with the valve open, should have came out even with out the overflow valve being on.

__________________

I see a very dark cloud on America's horizon,
and that cloud is coming from Rome.
- Abraham Lincoln
Reply With Quote
Reply



Thread Tools
Rate This Thread
Rate This Thread:

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:49 PM.