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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
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    1

    Default Water heater drain valve

    Shortly after I bought my five yr. old house, I tried to drain the sediment from my electric water heater. I was unable to open the drain valve by hand so I tried using a pair of water pump pliers. The knob is made of nylon so I didn't want to break it off or strip it so I gave up trying to open it. The valve is located very close to the floor of my garage so that I'm just barely able to screw a water hose onto it. How do I get the drain valve opened without breaking it?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,363

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    Those valves are notoriously cheap and crappy. They are best replaced by unscrewing the entire valve and installing a new one with a threaded base on the new brass valve.

    If your gas heater sets on the floor of your garage, that is a fire hazard. Most fire codes require the tank to be at least 18" above the garage floor. There are stands made specifically for this purpose. You may do yourself a huge favor by having the water tank lifted from the floor. That would make access to the valve a lot easier too. Check your local building code to be sure of the height requirement.

    If your HWH is electric, be sure to turn off the electric before emptying the water, as you run the risk of burning out the electric heating elements if they are not submerged in water and left on. Flip the breaker to turn off the electric to the heater. Gas heaters can be flushed easily after turning the gas valve off.
    Last edited by HoustonRemodeler; 01-14-2011 at 04:43 PM. Reason: added link, added local code check

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    40

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    why does an electric water heater need to be 18" off the floor? theres no fire hazard from combustibles.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    179

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    When I install a water heater I always recommend replacing the cheap plastic valve with a full ported 3/4" ball valve and a short nipple. I also put a 3/4" plug in the valve to prevent accidental floods. Most cheap valves will unscrew, but I always have a broken nipple remover to fall back on, but you will still have a flood until the tank drains. You can take a hacksaw blade and wrap it with a bunch of duct tape to make a handle and then stick it inside the broken plastic pipe piece, to saw through in two places about 1/4" apart near the bottom of the broken pipe.
    Then grab this piece with a needle nose and pry it out. The other piece will unscrew. Make sure the teeth are pointing towards you when you make the handle, and don't saw into the steel threads on the tank if possible(keep the blade level). Wrap the new nipple with about 4-5 wraps of teflon tape before installing. You will also need a 3/4" pipe to male garden hose brass adapter to use in the outlet of the valve, to hook a garden hose to. The benefit of a full port valve is that you can flush the tank once a year and remove scale. You will not suceed in doing this with a reduced (standard) port valve.
    Last edited by ZZZ; 01-14-2011 at 12:34 AM.
    "Lead by Example"

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    I have never heard of a electric water heater having to be on a stand in the garage. Gas heaters had to be 18" off a garage at one time, but that is no longer necessary since they now have a sealed combustion chamber. The reason for gas heater being installed 18" off the floor was the old heaters had a open combustion chamber that could ignite gasoline fumes in the garage.

    John

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    florida
    Posts
    598

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    Quote Originally Posted by johnjh2o View Post
    I have never heard of a electric water heater having to be on a stand in the garage. Gas heaters had to be 18" off a garage at one time, but that is no longer necessary since they now have a sealed combustion chamber. The reason for gas heater being installed 18" off the floor was the old heaters had a open combustion chamber that could ignite gasoline fumes in the garage.

    John
    In Florida water heaters have to be off the floor 18" by code. If not they need to have a "Bollard" post in front of it 36" hgt to keep vehicles from hitting the tank.
    Gizmo

    Cut it 3 times & it's still to short.
    Inventor of the Miter Master Plus.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South*East
    Posts
    1,168

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    Quote Originally Posted by Gizmo View Post
    In Florida water heaters have to be off the floor 18" by code. If not they need to have a "Bollard" post in front of it 36" hgt to keep vehicles from hitting the tank.
    You may be right in some areas. But I have been in Brevard County for the past 17 yrs. and gas heaters had to be off the floor at one time but it is no longer required since the new gas heaters have a sealed combustion chamber. As far as having a post in front of them that may be a great idea but it is not required here.

    John

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    179

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    They are still required to be 18" in many areas, and if they are changed out to an electric model, it is going to be installed at the same height, unless you want to pay extra to have the piping extended and base removed. Why pay an extra $150 or more to lower a replacement heater, when there is little or no benefit? But if it is mounted on the floor, that doesn't mean it's dangerous or illegal, it depends on the situation.
    Last edited by ZZZ; 01-14-2011 at 12:28 PM.
    "Lead by Example"

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,363

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    The reason I mentioned the 18" height requirement is perhaps not for the specific person posting the question, but for the many more people reading the forum and looking for answers. There are many in a similar situation with both gas and electric HWH's. Code varies by location and should be checked by the HO.

    I think its safer to mention the point than not, just to be safe. I wouldn't want anyone coming back at me saying "you told me" when they forgot to mention their HWH is gas instead of electric. Covering all the bases as it be.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,361

    Default Re: Water heater drain valve

    This "Boiler Drain" valve is better for the purpose than the one HoustonRemodeler linked to. It features a much larger port; the other one has a very small valve seat that can easily plug with larger pieces of sediment.

    As ZZZ stated, a full port ball valve is also a good option, as is this valve, which is a ball valve with a hose connection.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

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