Water Heater Does Not Drain When Attempting to Flush


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Old 03-21-13, 02:31 PM
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Water Heater Does Not Drain When Attempting to Flush

I am trying to flush out my GE electric water heater (model GE38S06AAG) for the first time. The water heater is two years old and has never been drained. I followed these recommended steps for draining:

1. Turned power off to the water heater at the breaker
2. Closed the water supply to the tank
3. Attached a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank
4. Turn on a hot water faucet somewhere else in the home
5. Opened the drain valve

At this point, water should drain from the drain valve but it does not. I also expected that when I turned on a hot water faucet water would come out, but it does not. However, if I open the water supply, water does come out of the drain valve and from the open faucet. I called GE who told me that either the drain valve is restricted by something or it is defective. GE recommended that I have a professional come power flush the system and if that doesn't work, I should have a plummer trouble shoot the problem. I have not done either as of yet.

Some other considerations that may or may not be contributing factors... Except for the problem noted above, this particular water heater has never given me any trouble. I have a thermal expansion tank installed between the water supply shut off valve and the water heater just like it is supposed to according to the water heater manual. I also have a water softener located in the garage. There is a pressure regulator valve (PRV) that was installed by the water softener company between the street level main and the water softener. The PRV is actually attached to the water supply as it comes into the garage and before it hits the water softener. In the past, the water pressure coming into my house from the street level has been high--right around 110 PSI. I just now checked the water going into the water softener and it is at 90 PSI. I also checked the pressure on a water spigot outside the house (water coming to the house before it hits the PRV at the water softener) and it is also 90 PSI.

All that said, can someone please explain to me why water does not come out of the drain valve when I followed the steps above yet, it does come out when I open the water supply to the water heater? Is it possible that any of the other considerations I've mentioned be part of the problem? Recommendations?

Thank you,
whpacejr
 
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Old 03-21-13, 02:34 PM
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Your water heater won't drain without breaking the suction. Don't drain, just open the drain valve and let the water pressure flush it out.
 
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Old 03-21-13, 03:03 PM
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I have a Sears gas-fired water heater, installed in February of 1999, in my house. It will not drain either. I removed the original plastic drain valve and replaced it with a brass nipple and ball valve. It still will not drain no matter how many hot water faucets I open. It WILL drain if I manually open the Temperature & Pressure (safety) valve. I think the reason has to do with the heat trap nipples installed.
 
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Old 03-21-13, 03:52 PM
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I think the reason has to do with the heat trap nipples installed.
I think Furd is right.

Don't drain, just open the drain valve and let the water pressure flush it out.
I also agree with Gilmorrie. There's no reason to DRAIN the tank to flush the sediment. Leave the water supply to the tank OPEN and simply open the drain for enough time to flush whatever has accumulated.

[note: thread has been moved from the HOME HEATING BOILER forum]
 
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Old 03-21-13, 04:13 PM
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[Your water heater won't drain without breaking the suction.]
Opening up a hot water faucet elsewhere inside the home is supposed to mitigate the vacuum effect (break the suction). I tried with on and with several other hot water faucets open in the house and still no water came out of the drain valve.

[Don't drain, just open the drain valve and let the water pressure flush it out.]
Do you mean open up the drain valve only long enough to let any sediment out as opposed to draining the tank completely? If I can't even break the suction to begin with.
 
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Old 03-21-13, 04:22 PM
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Leave the supply water on and fully open the drain valve. Wait about ten seconds and fully close the drain valve. If the water came out really muddy then wait an hour and do it again, repeating until it runs clear. Do this once or twice a year as necessary.
 
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Old 03-21-13, 05:10 PM
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Thanks Furd. I did open the supply water after seeing no water was coming out of the drain valve initially. I had it open only long enough to run outside and check the hose (probably 60 seconds max). The water was clear and I didn't see any sediment at all. Perhaps any sediment that might have come out got washed away. Also, the water was just barely lukewarm... probably due to the cold water supply mixing in with what was already in the tank; still I expected it to be warmer. I will try again tomorrow just as you stated above. Will let you all know how things went. Thanks!
 
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Old 01-11-14, 04:55 PM
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Same problem: Water Heater Does Not Drain When Attempting to Flush

I'm experiencing the exact same problem as the original poster with flushing my 2-yr old electric water heater. When I attempted to drain my water heater, the water from the drain hose only came out in a slow, steady stream, not gushing out like I expected. ALSO, the water coming out was NOT even hot, like I expected... not even warm! Initially, I performed these steps:
1) turned off the power
2) hooked up a hose to the drain valve
3) turned on the bathtub faucet to prevent a vacuum
4) opened up the drain valve.

As I said, when I did these steps, the water did not gush out as expected. I tried opening the T&P valve but it didn't make any difference. At first, I thought I had a clogged drain valve, until I found this thread. Then, as gilmorrie and other's suggested, I turned on the water supply and it started gushing out of the hose with some sediment (although not as much sediment as I expected, possibly due to the fact that I also have a water softener). I let the water run until it was clear, then I closed the drain valve, closed the T&P valve, and let the tank fill up completely before turning on the power. All seems to be working well, but I do have a few questions.

First, I assume that since I did do all of the above, my water heater is now sufficiently flushed. Am I correct? I ask this because the following website seems to suggest that if you do not first drain the water heater completely, turning on the water supply will, for the most part, only stir up the sediment and not flush the water heater properly: Clean-sediment-out-of-water-heater

Second, why didn't the water come gushing out initially? I'm sure it wasn't due to a clogged drain valve, because once I turned on the water supply it immediatey started gushing out. I don't think it was due to a vacuum since I had turned on the bathtub drain to prevent this to begin with. That leaves me to believe it was something like Furd suggested, the heat trap nipples. Do heat trap nipples BY DESIGN not allow normal flushing OR would they only prevent normal flushing if there was something wrong with them? I don't even know if I have heat trap nipples on my water heater. How could I tell?

Finally, the reason I decided to drain my water heater to begin with is because it was making a whistling noise. The noise seemed to occur whenever a hot water faucet or shower ran for several minutes. I first heard the whistling noise last winter and searched the internet for possible causes/solutions. Most websites seemed to suggest that since the water heater was working properly (as far as I knew), and because there were no apparent signs of trouble (no leaks or corrossion) the noise was normal. I didn't pay any more attention to it and the noise seemingly went away. Then, coincidently or not, I began hearing the whistling noise again this winter. Also, it seemed that lately, the hot water was not lasting as long. It's not a drastic difference and could be just my imagination since I'm now more attuned to the performance of my water heater. Can someone here please list all of the possible causes for water heater whistling noise and troubleshooting steps? I'm a young, new homeowner and DIYer and will not attempt anything I'm not qualified for or capable of. I just want to learn as much as I can to help me maintain my water heater and save myself some money on service calls whenever possible.

Thank you all. Sorry for the long-winded post! Appreciate your responses!
 

Last edited by rsmiley6994; 01-11-14 at 06:23 PM. Reason: Additional Information
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Old 01-23-14, 08:26 PM
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I'm having the exact same issue on my gas hot water heater. turned off the gas, closed the cold water valve, hooked up a hose to the drain valve, turned on a couple hot water faucets, opened the drain valve and....nothing. However, as soon as I turn the cold water valve on, the water comes gushing out of the drain valve. There was a little sediment, but not much. I did this a few times. Water is still not as hot as it used to be, and my wife is noticing black sediment in the tub when she turns on the hot water. Any ideas on how to handle? thanks in advance.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 06:05 AM
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You guys need to open the pressure relief switch at the top of the tank. Opening up a hot water tap is nice but think about it. As the water in the tank drains, it needs air to fill in the volume above the water. If it doesn't get that air, the suction or atmospheric pressure will hold the water up in the tank. Like a finger on the top of a straw. Opening the pressure relief valve gives it that air easily and your water should flow freely. If you open up a hot water tap somewhere that air has to flow through the pipe and down into the water and then bubble up to the top of the tank. All lot more difficult for the air resulting in a much more slow drainage of water from the bottom of the tank.

Once you open the cold water or should I say, once you open up the water pressure, that pressure is what will push the hot water out the bottom of the tank, no different then how water is pushed out any other hot water tap.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 08:32 AM
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After closing the cold water supply valve, I usually just break the union on the cold supply.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 08:39 AM
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After closing the cold water supply valve, I usually just break the union on the cold supply.
+1 except here usually it is a flex line and you just unscrew it from the top of the heater. However no need just for flushing as pointed out earlier. Just leave the water on. That's only if you are draining the tank.
 
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Old 01-24-14, 05:50 PM
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+1 except here usually it is a flex line and you just unscrew it from the top of the heater. However no need just for flushing as pointed out earlier. Just leave the water on. That's only if you are draining the tank.
Yes, just for draining the tank which is rare for me, I power flush mine annually. Ray, around here the flex lines are generally only used by very inexperienced DIYers.
 
 

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