Need some electric water heater advice

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Old 11-10-20, 09:24 PM
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Need some electric water heater advice

This is a 50gal electric water heater 240v. This water heater had 23+ years on it before it messed up. I'm about to replace it. It's in an upstairs unfinished attic.

The first thing about this heater is kinda weird. It has a cut-off valve on the hot line instead of the cold feed line. That makes no sense. And that is deff the hot line. I've felt it many times before when it was running. It gets hot. So 1st question is, why would they not put a cut-off valve on the cold line? Looking at youtube videos I've not seen any cut-off valves on the hot line. Could it be some kind of safety consideration? Like i've heard if a water heater drains while the electricity is on it could break the glass lining and bust. Maybe they didn't put a valve on the feed line to keep anyone from accidently cutting the water off and thereby draining the tank and busting the glass lining? Idk. I want to solder in a cut-off valve on the feed line for convenience. And btw, what if the thing ever did mess up and start dropping water under the tank into the pan? Wouldn't you want to shut the feed line off in a hurry instead of running out to the street to cut the water off at the meter or crawl up under the house to shut the water off?

Second question is, if the drain spigot at the bottom of the tank is clogged so that I can't drain the water out of the tank, (which I think it is clogged with sediment) could you just drill a hole in the top of the thing or punch a hole in the top of the tank with a cold chisel and drop a garden hose down into the tank from the top of it to drain the tank? I don't know how that thing is constructed underneath the outter shell. I don't know how difficult that would be.





In the meantime, enjoying those brisk cold November showers while the water heater is down (NOT)
 
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Old 11-10-20, 09:57 PM
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A shutoff valve is required in the cold water line.
A shutoff valve on the hot water side is 50/50.
It is not prohibited by code but can be an issue if both valves are shutoff and the water heater overheats.

I have a valve on my hot water side but I don't leave the handle on it.
This way it won't get shut off by accident.

You could probably remove the hot water connection and send a garden hose minus the end in.
 
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Old 11-11-20, 05:10 AM
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When the water heater is so far gone (sprung a leak) to need replacement, yes you can turn off the cold water supply and drill a hole in the top of the tank to insert a hose and siphon the water out. But cutting the hole will be difficult and time consuing unless you have a heavy duty power tool, likely of the size and noise of what auto repair garages have..
 
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Old 11-11-20, 06:01 AM
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Water heaters are surprisingly easy to drill through if you have the right tools. I use a hole saw and drill a big hole through the outer shell and I remove the insulation. Then you can use a smaller hole saw to bore through the tank. Make sure you measure your garden hose to make sure the hose is big enough. I use carbide tipped hole saws in a cordless drill. I set the clutch on the drill one notch less than the drill setting so it can still slip if the bit catches. The key is having good sharp hole saws. They will cut through so quickly that the drill biting too hard can be a problem.

Another option is to get some smaller vinyl tubing that will fit through the T&P valve's hole. There will be water spilled, but remove the T&P valve. Insert the hose and stuff an old rad around to stop most of the water. Start a siphon. Then I go ahead and cut/remove the water lines. This will vent the tank and the siphon will work better.
 
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Old 11-11-20, 08:22 PM
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Thanks for all the input yall. Yall told me what I need to know. Gonna install the cold line valve tomorrow (I hope! first time sweating any plumbing pipes!)
 
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Old 11-12-20, 06:37 AM
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One key to sweating copper is cleanliness. The pipe and inside of the fittings should be absolutely bright and shiny copper. If using sandpaper or a brush don't wipe off the area with your hand afterwards as that deposits oils back on what you just cleaned. Use a paper towel or rag to wipe things off.
 
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Old 11-12-20, 10:21 PM
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UPDATE:

Well this is embarrassing, but the pipe that I swore was the hot water line that had the valve on it was not the hot water line! I could have sworn that pipe felt hot according to my memory. Memory must be going bad. Not only that though, that pipe has a RED line marked on it going into the top of the heater. I thought for SURE that indicated that was the hot line:

It's not, it's the cold line and it does have the valve in the cold line according to code. I found out the hard way that was the cold line. When I cut the pipe to get the valve in I also cut the pipe at the water heater end. Well after I sweated in the ball valve, I turned the valve off, then went out in the front yard and to turn the main water on and go back upstairs to check that my new valve was not leaking and when I get upstairs I see water is gushing out of the pipe I cut next to the water heater port! Major freakout. I had left the (actual) cold water line valve open (which is the screw valve in the first set of pics with the blue handle), then when I turned on the main water it came gushing out of the hot water port on top of the heater where I had cut the line. Embarrassing. I sweated the valve in to the hot line that I thought was actually the cold line. I have no idea why a red line was marked on the cold water line.

Probably a good thing I had that "accident" cause it made me figure out that the line I thought was the cold line was actually the hot line and I may have hooked up the pipes backwards onto the heater.

So here's the valve I sweated in. First sweat job ever:


One thing about that brass ball valve. I had to heat that thing up a lot longer to get the solder to melt than I thought. I guess cause it's a brass valve and the brass is really thick. I guess a copper fitting heats up twice as fast as that brass valve. When I first bought the valve I looked down inside it and I thought I could see what looked like some kind of plastic or nylon insert in there around the ball. Well I can tell you, if that valve had something like plastic or nylon down in it then it got totally melted when I sweated the valve in. The handle was very firm to turn before I sweated it in and now it's real easy to turn. So, idk. I have no experience in this. And I plan on taking that blue handle off the valve since it's on the hot water line. Either that, or just taking that valve back out of the line.

Also, I got the heater drained by taking the pressure relief valve out like someone mentioned. About 2 - 2 1/2 gallons of water came out when I pulled it out but it poured nicely into a 5 gallon bucket. I then ran a garden hose down into the hole and out the window. When I tried to get a siphon going the first time it wouldn't get going. So I went back upstairs and pulled the hose out of the hole and pushed it back into the hole and hopefully downwards into the water and then I got the whole tank to siphon out. The hose must have been going side ways around the heater instead of down into the water the first time.


Here's a little siphon I got at Lowes for like $13. It worked really good.


Oh yeah, check out the inside of the pressure relief valve. Pretty sure it's not supposed to look like that. 23 years and never checked one single time. I read you're supposed to test the valve twice a year to make sure it's free flowing.
 
 

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