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Old 07-14-2015, 08:24 AM   #1
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Water Heater Drain Plug Broken

Stupidly, I over torqued the plastic water heater drain plug and broke it off in the water heater. I've tried digging the plastic from the internal thread to no avail. I bought a tap to clean the plastic out but can't get it started. Any suggestions?
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:00 AM   #2
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Thankfully I have not had that problem. Something like this might work.
Screw Extractor Set 12 Pc

Or using progressively larger drill bits, drill the plug out a bit at a time. Carefully as to not damage the threads.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:03 AM   #3
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The extractor awchief suggests should work fine. Then replace the plstic/nylon plug with a brass fitting that has a valve on it - makes for emptying the tank much easier (for winterizing) and will not break like the plastic/nylon one.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:24 AM   #4
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I have most of the plastic out except for that left in the threads. I've not been able remove that.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:26 AM   #5
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Time to dig out the dental pick.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:33 AM   #6
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Thanks, I'll find one.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:37 AM   #7
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You may have to make a pick strong enough to work those treads.

If you grind a pick I would heat it with a torch just before applying it to the treads. Hopefully that will cause the pick to melt into the tread and thus get a better grip. Once you break one tread it should be easy to peal the rest out.

Since that is a tapered thread I would start about half way and work the inner treads free first.
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Old 07-14-2015, 09:49 AM   #8
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An "Easy out" which is sort of like a reverse threaded tapered screw should bring it out without problem - you would need to drill a small pilot hole in the broken plastic pug in order to start the "Easy Out" into the plug.

Brian.
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wingeezer View Post
An "Easy out" which is sort of like a reverse threaded tapered screw should bring it out without problem - you would need to drill a small pilot hole in the broken plastic pug in order to start the "Easy Out" into the plug.

Brian.
See post #4
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:06 AM   #10
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If this happens to anyone else, at the underground sprinkler section of your local hardware store, or big box store like Home Depot, they have what is called a nipple extractor. Generally under $5. You can drill a pilot hole in the plug and put the extractor in and unscrew the plug.

It would be of no use now to the OP as he is down to the plastic in the threads, but the product and advice might help someone else who is just starting out with a broken plastic plug.
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Old 07-14-2015, 10:27 AM   #11
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Snap on makes great small picks that would work great for this purpose , I use them all the time to remove " O " rings in small engine carbs you just have to find one of there trucks to buy one or you can order on line
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Old 07-14-2015, 11:27 AM   #12
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Thanks!

I read these threads every day and I'm grateful for the shared knowledge. In this instance I was amazed by the effort you responders put in to help out, especially Idroba's contribution. It was helpful beyond the call. Thank you!
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Old 07-14-2015, 12:19 PM   #13
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I like to pull the plug annually so that I can scour out the insides of the tank. The original plug got a seam in it and started to drip. I went over to the local SOB dealership who is close to home and bought 3 black plugs. That way I carry a couple of extras in case one fails.

Galvanic corrosion can occur when dissimilar metals have contact with each other. Aluminum and brass are reactive to each other with aluminum acting as the anode. My Atwood tank in my Airstream is aluminum. Suburban branded tanks tend to be steel and have an anode rod in them to minimize corrosion.
https://www.fastenal.com/content/fed...0Corrosion.pdf

I imagine that other than cost factors, an aluminum tank is really better off using a nylon replacement plug to help maintain tank life. That's pretty much why I scour the tank annually to remove the deposits in the tank, and continue to use nylon plugs. I use a small adjustable crescent wrench to remove the plug. It works pretty good and doesn't scar the nut end. In addition I do wrap some teflon tape around the plug threads prior to reinsertion. That minimizes the amount of tightness you need to exert to keep the plug from leaking around the threads.

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Old 07-14-2015, 01:10 PM   #14
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Smile Drain Plug

I too have had this wonderful experience.
What I did was to use a sprinkler system riser removal tool to get the old plug out. That was however just the beginning. Seems that all the Teflon tape that I used over the years has become one with the water heater. I could not get a plastic plug to start SOooo I used a brass plug that I cut several slots across the treads to in affect make a tap. After several times of starting the plug into the heater enough Teflon was removed that I could get my new plastic (nylon) plug to start. I did use a dental pick to remove most of the remaining Teflon tape. I then found a 1/2 inch gray PVC type pipe about 2" long, both ends with male threads. I put on some Teflon tape and screwed it into the water heater. Now I use a female PVC threaded cap on the end of the pipe. When I wish to drain and clean and flush the heater I just unscrew the cap.
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