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Old 01-12-2019, 02:04 PM   #1
wmb
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Water heater drain plug dripping even with a new plug

The old plug has been dripping very slowly for a couple of weeks, so today I decided to fit a new one. I used about 3-4 turns of white Teflon tape on the plug and made it finger tight + 1/2 turn.

I still dripped slowly.

I noticed that there's a bit of calcified crud around the end of the pipe, so I scrubbed off what I could with an old toothbrush and a few drops of CLR, then ran cold water through to flush it out, and tried again with the new plug and another 3-4 turns of Teflon tape.

It's still dripping (and seems to be dripping a little faster than before).

What do you think I should try next?
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:13 PM   #2
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Hooked up to city water . . . [shut off at first] . . .

The female threads which receive the plug probably have calcified crud in them IMO. I would drain the water heater, and use a small round brass wire bottle brush to clean those threads. Then use a tap [NPT -- with cutting oil] to chase out the threads. Flush well with lots of city water.

Should do the trick IMO. If not, use more Teflon tape and a correctly-sized socket wrench to install the plug. If the plug is nylon it is hard to do damage to the water heater IMO.

Any chance you damaged the threads with previous cleanings?

Good luck,

Peter

PS -- Sounds like your water has been hard, so you might want to also get a new PRV for the top of the water heater. They get crudded up all the time from hard water. [pressure relief valve] Usually a generic valve easily purchased at most hardware stores.
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Old 01-12-2019, 02:50 PM   #3
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I think you'll have better results with the old - fashioned pipe thread compound in a tube vs the Teflon tape. Just be sure to use the kind formulated for both metal and plastic vs single-use. I've had the same issue as you and have never had a leak after using the pipe "dope".
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:05 PM   #4
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Note: whatever you do...be careful with the threads in the tank. It's aluminum and fairs poorly if damaged. I do agree to using a new nylon plug (they're cheap) with pipe thread dope as a helpful sealant and use a socket wrench not a adjustable wrench to screw it in.
Make sure it's threaded properly and seated deep enough. Hard to work around all the tubes/wires etc with an adjustable wrench.
Good Luck & Safe Travels.
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Old 01-12-2019, 04:52 PM   #5
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Tape and dope on a new plug would be where I went next
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:13 PM   #6
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finger tight and half a turn, likely not spun tight enough.
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Old 01-13-2019, 11:59 AM   #7
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Plumber here. Major airhead is correct. Probably needs to be tighter. If male and female threads are cut correctly then threaded fittings will have approximately 2 1/2 threads left showing when properly tightened. Never use plastic or nylon on hot water. I suggest a brass drain cock rather than a plug too.
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Old 01-13-2019, 01:50 PM   #8
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Another plumber here, and I agree with previous post, get rid of the plastic plug, it has different thermal growth characteristics than the surrounding metal. My plastic plug started leaking and I just replaced with a brass plug and small amount of pipe dope . No more leaks.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:35 PM   #9
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Per Suburban.... The nylon plug is not just a plug... It is a safety feature. It is designed to fail out if the temperature exceeds a set limit. This is different than the pressure relief valve. The genuine plugs are different than the aftermarket junk Camco plugs!
The genuine Suburban plugs also have tapered threads.
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Old 01-13-2019, 03:50 PM   #10
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. . . moreover the plastic plugs offer the benefit of making it basically impossible to mess up the female threads in the aluminum water heater, which the typical layman non-plumber might do with a brass or steel plug etc..

Easy enough to carry extras or get them on the road.
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Old 01-13-2019, 09:24 PM   #11
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I don't have a Suburban WH. Mine is an Atwood. The junk Camco plugs work fine in it.
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Old 01-14-2019, 06:47 AM   #12
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Another (nuclear) plumber here:

GOOD
OEM plug, they picked it for a reason.
thread dope, from plumbing supply
Socket and handle not in constraints
Start by hand tight, then snug up, less than gorilla or star torque

NOT AS GOOD
Some other plug, maybe stronger material than the base threads
Teflon tape used thinking it seals threads, vice lubricates

Can buy plastic bushings that you can fabricate your own drain cock. Those aluminum threads aren't very robust to take cross threading and recutting.

Ain't it just the winky stuff that drives you crazy?
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Old 01-14-2019, 08:49 PM   #13
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As others have mentioned, I’d recommend pipe dope in a tube vs tape. I had the same problem, and this did the trick.

Also great idea with socket vs adjustable wrench. In a pinch I had to use the adjustable once (and before I used the pipe dope), and the hex head of my plug is a bit more ’rotund’ as a result.
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:04 PM   #14
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OK..Another plumber here, lol. I'd go with the nylon plug for reasons mentioned and my new go to thread sealant , blue monster tape, cost 4 times as much as typical teflon tape but the stuff is magic. Agree that you are not tight enough if its still dripping, assuming the tapped bung is not compromised anyway.
good luck.
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