Water Heater Leaks From Drain Valve
It’s nothing new that a water heater drain valve can start leaking and give you problems that can be pretty troublesome to deal with. Sometimes it’s the valve itself that’s leaking, or in older tanks like those for your home steam shower, it could be the flange around the valve that leaks.
There are three basic ways of fixing water heater leaks from the drain valve or flange valve:
- Tightening the valve
- Capping the valve outlet
- Replacing the drain valve. However, this should only come down as the last resort because it’s a pretty big job to handle on your own. Preferably, you should call a plumber if there’s no other alternative.
This article should give you a proper rundown of what to do if your water heater leaks from drain valve and how to fix it.
What’s the Drain Valve for, anyway?
First things first, of course, you have to understand why the drain valve is necessary. The purpose of the drain valve is, as its name suggests, drain the hot water heater. Certain repairs that you might need to do on the water heater can only be achieved if you drain the tank. This is especially so if you are the proud owner of an electric water heater.
The other reason here exists is to perform routine maintenance on the water heater. Hot water tanks should be flushed out periodically so you can remove sediment that builds up at the bottom of the tank, effectively making the tank lose its efficiency. The drain valve is used for flushing the tank.
Problems with Drain Valves
Drain valves that come straight from the factory are plastic and thus, aren’t very durable. You can flush it out and tighten it - a simple fix for a simple problem.
The second option is to replace the drain valve altogether. Doesn’t seem like too big a job, does it? All you have to do is to drain the tank to change it, right? Basically, yeah, but it may end up being a lot more work than it seems in the long run.
If the leak is really bad, you have no option but to replace the drain valve. This is, of course, the less fun, more involving option. On top of that, most factories installed drain valves are plastic and break easily, so anything could happen along the way.
Too many problems? If your water heater leaks from drain valve constantly and you don’t want to have to deal with it every day, you could alternatively look out for cool tankless water heater reviews. Tankless heaters have great advantages over conventional heater tanks.
Fixing a Water Heater Drain Valve
Unless you empty the water heater first, replacing a drain valve raises the possibility of flooding your basement unless, of course, there’s a floor drain nearby. In most cases, it involves having someone help you and use buckets to collect and dump water that pours from the water heater while you’re replacing the valve.
- Shut off the valve on the cold water supply pipe that fills the water heater so it won’trefill as you drain its contents.
- Turn off the circuit breaker of the electric water heater or the gas valve of a gas water heater so the water doesn’t reheat. Use hot water at faucets and tubs in the house as long as it’s available. Allow the water in the water heater to cool down to a safe temperature—this may take some time, maybe even a full day.
- Using a pipe wrench, unscrew the valve from the tank by turning it counterclockwise. The further it loosens, the more it leaks, then sprays, and eventually pour warm (or hot) water, so be careful. Remove the valve entirely.
- If mineral deposits are in abundance inside the tank, they may block the drain hole as the water pours out. Use a screwdriver to break-up deposits. However, if the deposits are severe, you’ll need to drain the entire tank this way.
- When the water begins to run clear of the mineral deposits, insert the new drain valve in the hole and screw it in until it is snug, pointing down, and isn’t leaking.
- Open and close the new drain valve to test it then shut off the drain valve. If you opened the water heater’s pressure-release valve or a hot water faucet at any point, close those, too. Finally, open the water supply valve and let the tank refill.
- Turn the circuit breaker back on if you have an electric water heater or in the case of a gas heater, open the gas valve and relight the pilot to restart a gas water heater, as per the water heater’s instructions.