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How to drain water heaters with no drain valve?


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14 replies to this topic

#1 jb8103

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 08:41 PM

Don't deal with these much, tending to stay away from anything that could leak water, but recently I had a call on a 10 gallon with a bad element and no drain valve. Rigged up a Rube Goldberg system with funnels, pans, and buckets and got most of it out but this is ridiculous.

 

I tried pumping out through the hot supply fitting but got nothing, I had to force the tube I was using through a 90 and suspect it kinked flat right there.

 

It occurs to me later I could have tried screwing my pump hose to the overflow valve. For future ref, would that work?

 

I checked these things out at a couple of box stores and so far I have not seen a 10 gal with a drain valve. What gives, guys?


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#2 kdog

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:05 PM

Might hefta pull out your "Universal" Drain Valve  :rocketwhore: 


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#3 jb8103

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Posted 11 December 2012 - 09:09 PM

Effective, yes, but poor business relations, kdog; thanks, though.


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#4 Budget Appliance Repair

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:23 AM

I've heard tell that some of the old timers change heating elements in electric water heaters without draining them.  I've never done it or seen it done so can't make any claims.

 

You would need to make sure to turn the cold water inlet to the water heater off and then maybe open a hot faucet for just a second or two to take the pressure off the tank, then make sure all hot faucets are closed tight.

 

When you pull the old element you should only get a small amount of water may come out because it is held in the tank by vaccum, be ready to swap the new one in very quickly.

 

Anyone else hear of doing it this way?


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#5 Samurai Appliance Repair Man

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 08:33 AM

Anyone else hear of doing it this way?


No, but the physics of this method is compelling. Sounds like it would work.

#6 suampman

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:43 AM

Yes, Willie, I have done it that way along time ago, probably in the seventies. As you say, everything has to be closed off so no air can get in. You may get a splunk of water, like when you do not have your vent open on your gas can, and the gas comes out in lunges as the air goes in the tank. That is why you must move fast. I would still try it if I cold seal off both sides (hot and cold). Hope for the best and plan for the worst.

 

jb8103,  With a ten gallon tank I would think you could rig up a shop vac with a with a reducer hose, maybe 5/8", remove the 90 and suck out the water.  Or, if it is not to much trouble, unhook it and take it outside with a dolly and dump it. Hope this helps.



#7 jumptrout

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 09:52 AM

I change all my elements without draining.

You lose almost no water.

However,keep a towel and shop vac close by.

The only problem comes in when it is a old corroded element and the rubber gasket wants to stick in the hole.

Other times,the element is busted and hangs up coming out.

If the gasket sticks,remove the new gasket from the replacement element and re-use the old gasket.

 

NOTE: You can not drain a heater from the high temp pop valve.



#8 jb8103

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 06:26 PM

I change all my elements without draining.

You lose almost no water.

However,keep a towel and shop vac close by.

The only problem comes in when it is a old corroded element and the rubber gasket wants to stick in the hole.

Other times,the element is busted and hangs up coming out.

If the gasket sticks,remove the new gasket from the replacement element and re-use the old gasket.

 

NOTE: You can not drain a heater from the high temp pop valve.

 

This old fellow was riddled with leaks due to his pipes having frozen a year before. There are no shut-off valves at the water heater. So I knew the static pressure would never hold. I do wish I'd thought of keeping a Sop Vac handy, that would have done the trick, mostly.

 

I did check a few cross section views of water heaters and no, there's no hope for pumping out through any of the fittings.


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#9 certified tech group 51

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Posted 12 December 2012 - 06:51 PM

I change the element with out draining the tank... Turn off the power........Shut off incoming supply line........Open the hot side of the faucet to relieve the pressure then close the valve..............Loosen the element a few turns and you should be able to see if the gasket is stuck to the tank, just use a small flat bladed screwdriver to pry loose....... have the new element in hand as you remove the old one........ when removed, just drop it and insert the new one......you are lucky if the customer has their tank sitting in a drip pan...... :thumbsup: ..........If you need to remove the water, disconnect the incoming line and the outlet side..................................Use some compressed air on the outlet side ( draw tube  high in tank )...... water level will be expelled out the incoming side to the level of the fill tube ( lowest point )..... Not all of the water will be out , BUT, it will be lighter.......



#10 tpoindexter

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Posted 31 January 2013 - 10:24 PM

Plumbers do it all the time


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#11 Bullstok

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 08:37 PM

Plumbers do it all the time


yes. yes we do. oh, and the thing with the waterheaters sometimes too...

#12 tpoindexter

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Posted 04 February 2013 - 10:31 PM

yes. yes we do. oh, and the thing with the waterheaters sometimes too...

And spoken like a true plumber.


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#13 tommytech

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Posted 19 February 2013 - 12:16 PM

i change elements that way all the time,no problems at all,no leaks

#14 wishfultech

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 06:18 PM

if you check y-- tu-- there is a guy changing an element without draining the tank and it looks pretty simple.



#15 RegUS_PatOff

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Posted 17 October 2013 - 09:58 PM

if you check y-- tu-- there is a guy changing an element without draining the tank and it looks pretty simple.

you can post the link here


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