Does water heater have to be drained to replace gas valve?


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Old 12-29-12, 05:33 PM
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Does water heater have to be drained to replace gas valve?

I have a 6 year old Whirlpool water heater. Sometimes after using alot of hot water (showers mostly) the heater will not fire up to reheat new water. If I go to the heater and just touch the tempeture control knob it will then fire up and may work ok for another month or so then one day we will again find ourselfs without hot water. All I have to do it barely move the temp control knob and it fires right up. The pilot light is always on so I'm assuming the thermocouple is ok. I'm guessing the gas valve may be going bad????? Does this sound about right to anyone? I want to change the gas valve but right now I cannot get any water to drain from the drain valve. It must be plugged up. I have a water softner just before the water heater so I dont think it is plugged up with calcium deposits. My question is....does the gas valve fit into a tube in the tank or does it go directly into the water in the tank? In other words....does the tank have to be empty to change the gas valve or will water go everywhere when the gas valve is pulled out of the tank?
 
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Old 12-29-12, 06:11 PM
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The sensing tube of the gas valve goes directly into the water space of the heater, no well. There are some plumbers that regularly change out electrical elements and sometimes gas valves without draining the tank. They rely on a partial vacuum developing and not allowing the water to gush out of the opening. Of course they have the new element or valve all ready for insertion so the hole is open for only a couple of seconds. I'm not brave enough to try this.

Something else to consider is that the gas valve is a major component of a water heater and the "average" lifespan of a gas water heater is around eight years. Do you really want to drop that kind of money into a heater that may need replacement in a year or two? My water heater is around thirteen years old and I would not spend even a single dollar on any repairs because I know the entire heater is on borrowed time.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 06:40 PM
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Thank you for the reply. My water heater has a 12 year warranty. I did contact Whirlpool and told them my thoughts about the gas valve and they sent me an authorization number to go get a new gas valve at their cost so I'm not putting out any money for the gas valve. I guess now I just need to get my drain valve unclogged so I can drain it. I think your right about not wanting to try to do it full of water. I'm not that fast. Thanks
 
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Old 12-29-12, 06:55 PM
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The people that come out will take care of it. Even though a 12 yr warranty you will still pay a labor charge. Its parts and tank warranty.

Around $225 from when I was doing it here in NJ. May be different in your area.
 
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Old 12-29-12, 11:44 PM
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Mike, he said that Whirlpool authorized him to buy a new gas valve and they (Whirlpool) would pay for it. He doesn't get someone to bring the valve and replace it although I suppose he could go that route.
 
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Old 12-30-12, 07:19 AM
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I don't think he can just walk in somewhere and buy that gas valve. Odd, usually the manufacturer would or should have just mailed it to him
 
 

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