Tool Tips: Draining water heaters, expansion tanks
Use pex tubing to drain plugged water heaters
When draining a water heater plugged with calcium, I find the job goes twice as fast when I remove the dip tube or anode rod. I hook my pump to a piece of ½” PEX with a hose adapter, sticking the PEX through the open hole and pumping from there.
DeNikes Home Service
Drain an expansion tank before lifting
A typical expansion tank that has a ruptured diaphragm will hold a minimum of 4 gallons water. The expansion tank is usually in an awkward location, making it difficult to reach in over the heating appliance to remove the heavy tank safely and without creating a small flood.
Recently, I began using my cordless drill and drilling a 3/8” hole right through the bottom of the expansion tank (after shutting down and draining the heating system as necessary). I keep two buckets on hand for this procedure. After about a gallon of water has drained out into one bucket, I then switch the other bucket into place, letting it fill as I empty the first bucket. Once drained, the expansion tank is much lighter and easier to remove.
Harding’s Plumbing & Heating
South Portland, Maine
Pump water out of old water heaters
For at least 30 years, we have used a small pump. The Little Giant Pony is a great pump for this. Just hook it up, open the drain valve, turn on the supply to clear the deposits, prime the pump plug in the pump and disconnect the hot supply. The heater drains while you remove the piping, electrical and/or vent and gas.
A laundry hose for the inlet and garden hose on the discharge will put the water out the door or down the laundry drain. We keep two laundry hoses on it because there is usually a drain nearby, or the heater is in an outside cabinet.
The pump only costs $100 and the rebuild kit is $17. I have had mine for at least 10 years and rebuilt it once. I do keep a rebuild kit just in case.
Send Us Your Tool Tips
If you have an idea that has saved you time and money, Plumbing & Mechanical would like to share your tip with our readers. The first-place winner each month will receive a Kinetic Water Ram from General Pipe Cleaners with a retail value of $325. Read here for more details.