electric water heater won't drain


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Old 01-04-09, 01:53 PM
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electric water heater won't drain

My Richmond electric water heater wont drain anything out with the water supply turned off. I need to replace lower heating element, but I am pretty sure without 30+ gallons of water drained, I will have a mess. Oh.....heater hasn't been drained in the 8 years I have lived here. Any advice would be great. Thanks
 
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Old 01-04-09, 02:47 PM
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Turn off the breaker to the water heater. Connect a garden hose to the drain. Turn off the cold water to the water heater. Open the drain the garden hose is on. Turn on a hot water faucet. The heater needs the faucet on to draw air so the tank can drain. The drain valve may be plugged so if you get no flow out of it close the faucet, remove the hose and with the drain open probe inside it with a wire or small screwdriver to clear the clog. Reinstall the hose and open the drain and faucet again.
 
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Old 01-04-09, 09:35 PM
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Frankly, the easy but non intuitive way to replace the heating element is NOT to drain the tank. Instead, get the new element prepped with pipe dop on the threads and ready to be installed. Turn off the water supply valve at the tank.

Open a hot water tap to draw off the water pressure, then close it again.

You can put some towels down on the floor to catch any dribs and drabs of water. Use a wrench to loosen the old element, and then unscrew it by hand until it's about ready to come out.

Then, smoothly finish unscrewing the element, remove it and pop the new one in and tighten it by hand, finishing with a wrench.

Properly done, very little water will leak out, since it's trapped inside because of the lack of air supply to let the water run out.

I suppose if you are very sensitive about getting water on the floor, you might not want to use this method, although draining the tank is likely to result in more water on the floor than this method.
 
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Old 01-04-09, 09:39 PM
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Hey Stew----


Your discovery that the water doesn't want to come out of an otherwise sealed up tank duplicated the method I suggested for replacing the heating element.

Perhaps that will give you the confidence to try it.
 
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Old 01-04-09, 09:51 PM
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there is a problem though guys.

chances are the element burned becuase it is covered in sediment built up and over it. When taking the element out, that allows you to clean the crap out so you don;t burn the element out as soon as you turn it on.

whadya think?
 
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Old 01-04-09, 10:52 PM
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Most of my experience with water heaters was repairing gas water heaters for a utility. I pulled plenty of drain valves, thermostats and PTV valves using this method and never had problems with corrosion accumulations.

That might be a different story in other areas.

Off the cuff, if I had that kind of corrosion issue, I'd probably pound on the old heating element to break off enough crud to remove it.

I'd do a lot to avoid draining a tank. Our guys who replaced leased water heaters put together a small circulating pump that they used to drain tanks which made the job easy.
 
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Old 01-04-09, 11:07 PM
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Ok, let me say it this way. The main reason the lower element burns out is it gets covered with sediment. When that happens, it does not have the water surrounding it to cool it. It overheats and burns out just like if you turn on the heater without water in it.

While you have the element out, it is simply prudent to at least check, if not clean any sediment from the tank.


why do you think upper elements almost never burn out. It's always the lower one.

hhmm, makes ya think.
 
 

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