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Old 09-24-2013, 09:18 PM   #1
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Water heater drain cap question

What tool should I use to remove the drain cap from my water heater? It looks pretty tight to use a pair of pliers. Any suggestions?
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Old 09-25-2013, 06:58 AM   #2
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What tool should I use to remove the drain cap from my water heater? It looks pretty tight to use a pair of pliers. Any suggestions?
Looks like a plastic plug with a hex head, if memory serves (haven't looked at mine since spring, so memory may not serve). If so, I'd try an open-end or box-end wrench. Shouldn't have to turn it very far at all to loosen it enough to turn with your fingers.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:19 AM   #3
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Not sure what water heater you have. Mine has a plastic plug with 1/2" male national pipe threads. It has a hex head that takes a 15/16" six point socket to get in there and remove it. Usually a twelve point socket will slip on a plastic hex head.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:22 AM   #4
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I bought a socket to fit it (really wanted a 6 point but could not find one in the right size, so I settled for a 12 point socket). I could only find one in a 1/2 drive so I also bought a 1/2 to 3/8 and a 3/8 to 1/4 adaptors so I could use a 6" long 1/4 drive extension on my 1/4 drive ratchet handle. With that rig I can slide it all up through the heat shielding and turn it easily. My Interstate is in the shop right now (replacing the rear view camera is a huge pain in the butt BTW, my mechanic has the interior half torn out out it pulling the wire from the front to the back) but as soon as I get it back I can tell you what size the socket is. I guessed and bought 3 different sizes and then returned the two that were not it (I drove the AI to Lowes so facilitate). While I was there I also got a socket to fit the fresh water drain.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:24 AM   #5
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Crows foot wrench was needed for mine. Gas line runs right in front of it.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:34 AM   #6
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Joe is right, the 12 point is not optimal, but it beat the heck out of the adjustable wrench I was using! I'll try and confirm that mine is the same size he mentioned (15/16") this afternoon.

Note: The third or fourth time I had the plug out, it was leaking a couple of days after i put it back in. When I put my socket on there to snug it up to try and stop the leak, I snapped the head off the plug (too tight I guess, or it was fatigued/brittle?)! Luckily the water was not at full temp or I would have been scalded. Once I got the stub of the plug out of the tank drain, I switched to a brass plug (that was all I could find at the hardware store that would fit). Since then I ordered replacement plastic plugs through my dealer, but I have not removed the brass one to switch back yet. I like the idea of the plastic plug so the plugs threads will be sacrificial to the expensive and hard to replace water heater, but the brass one sure seals up nice! I will replace the plastic plug periodically from now on to try and prevent future failures and will be sure to always release the pressure before messing with the plug (and service the unit with the water cool!) to prevent injury in the event it does fail! I always turn the water pump off and turn on the hot water in the sink to let the pressure off before I pull the plug but did not think to do that before snugging it up ... could have been a painful mistake! I got lucky.
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Old 09-25-2013, 07:47 AM   #7
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I try to use a new plastic plug whenever I pull it out, keep some spares on hand, or they tend to leak.

I've seen the brass plugs but wonder if this would set up a corrosive situation because of the dissimilar metal aluminum tank.
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:08 AM   #8
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Crows foot wrench was needed for mine. Gas line runs right in front of it.

Don't you love the engineer that figured that out DAAAA!
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Old 09-25-2013, 08:33 AM   #9
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Most RV shops including Camping World sell replacement drain valves made of brass to replace the plastic plug; $7 or less. I've even seen one that allowed for the installation of a short piece of plastic tubing so the water flows outside of the water heater cavity rather than having it drool all over itself.

Now that I think about this, I'm going to look into using a short section of braided SS water supply hose and a 1/4 turn stop.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:16 AM   #10
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CW had this one....

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Old 09-25-2013, 09:37 AM   #11
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Not suitable for my regime but....

My friend put a valve on the his water heater drain. I decided not to, because I like to syphon as much water out as possible when winterizing. The valve would impede that process.
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Old 09-25-2013, 09:53 AM   #12
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We changed to a compact ball valve a few years ago.

Here is a link to our old post. Atwood water heater drain plug - Airstream Forums
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Old 09-25-2013, 03:53 PM   #13
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I recently found out that opening the low point drains on mine, and driving home from the CG gets more water out of the water heater than any other method!
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Old 09-25-2013, 04:24 PM   #14
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I came across this idea recently...... I think I'll give it a try this year when winterizing.
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