My electric water heater won't drain...

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by VERN in IL, Mar 16, 2009.

  1. VERN in IL

    VERN in IL Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

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    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?
     
  2. o&itw

    o&itw aka avdpas77 Supporter

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    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.
     

  3. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

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    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.
     
  4. VERN in IL

    VERN in IL Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

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    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.
     
  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    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.
     
  6. VERN in IL

    VERN in IL Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

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    I would have to make an adaptor, but I can.
     
  7. clovis

    clovis Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  8. artificer

    artificer Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  9. watcher

    watcher de oppresso liber

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    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.
     
  10. kendall j

    kendall j Well-Known Member

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    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
     
  11. watcher

    watcher de oppresso liber

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    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.
     
  12. Backfourty,MI.

    Backfourty,MI. Katie Supporter

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    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.
     
  13. retire2$

    retire2$ Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  14. plowjockey

    plowjockey Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  15. VERN in IL

    VERN in IL Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian

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    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.