The drain valve on a water heater is a great thing. It allows you to easily empty your tank in the event of trouble—excessive pressure, say—or as a periodic maintenance effort, such as when flushing built-up sediment. Yet the drain valve can also become a source of stress if it develops a leak. If you would like to improve your water heater troubleshooting skills, read on. This article will discuss how to evaluate—and hopefully repair—a leaky drain valve on your water heater.
In the vast majority of cases, the appearance of a leaky drain valve closely coincides with a tank flush. In other words, the leak rears its head shortly after the drain has been opened for some other reason. This may simply be because the drain valve was not closed back up as tightly as it should have been. In other cases, however, the source of the problem might be mineral sediment that became stuck in the valve as a result of the flush. This sediment may be keeping the drain from achieving a waterproof seal. It is also possible that the leak is not related to the use of the drain, but simply reflects the fact that one or more internal components have begun to break down as a result of their age.
Your first step should always be to rule out the simplest possible cause first. Here that means checking that the drain valve is screwed in as tight as can be in a counterclockwise direction. If you are able to tighten the valve in this manner, try waiting a few minutes—or hours—to see if the leak recurs. If not, you should be good to go.
If the leak continues to be a problem, you'll need to move to more advanced techniques. Start by shutting down the water heater's power supply and flipping off its breaker switch. Now give the water in the tank a few hours to cool off completely. Orient a bucket beneath the valve and open it up momentarily—just long enough to flush out any sediment that may have been lurking inside the valve. Then close the valve again and check if the leak is still there.
If the leak persists, chances are you're dealing with some corroded or crumbling inner parts. You'll likely need to have the valve replaced in order to solve this problem. Those with heavy-duty brass valves, however, may be able to restore proper functioning simply by replacing the rubber washer inside the valve. Of course, this entails draining the tank completely and then disassembling the valve, so you may want to leave this task for a professional plumber to undertake.Share
20 April 2017
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