Replacing Drain Valve with Ball Valve

Discussion in 'Water Heater Forum, Tanks' started by dw85745, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. dw85745

    dw85745 Member

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Arizona
    The last new H20 heater I installed, I tried to remove the drain valve (Rheem) and replace it will a Ball valve for better cleaning.
    However, I could not get the drain valve out without fear of breaking the valve (used an open end wrench that fit the drain valve slots).
    I have pipe wrenches up to 3 feet, so I could of got a heck of a lot of torque on the valve instead of using the slots
    but was concerned over breaking off the valve or injuring the glass liner in doing so.

    Question:
    1) Anyone every mess with putting in a ball valve?
    2) Is there a benefit (e.g. longer tank life) in doing so?
    3) Any idea of the torque used to install the drain valve?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2014
  2. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,002
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    When I install a recirc line to a water heater, I pull the drain and replace with a new nipple and ball valve.
    It's not a big deal to do that.
  3. dw85745

    dw85745 Member

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Arizona
    I've also replaced them for Solar applications, But this one was TIGHT!
    Was just wondering whether others had experienced issues with the newer Rheems as I'm sure the drain value is probably installed by a Robot.

    =================
    With Solar (basically recirculating) I've seen take life extended quite a bit.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2014
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,626
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    When they are new, the drain valves will unscrew. It just takes a bit more torque usually. When they get older, if the valve is plastic, it usually snaps off at the threads making removal a bit more of a challenge. Replacing the valve with a brass nipple and ball valve is a relatively simple task, in fact, there is a special ball valve for the tank drain which has an intergral hose thread outlet and a cap on a chain to close it off.
  5. dw85745

    dw85745 Member

    Messages:
    71
    Location:
    Arizona
    hj: Thanks for reply. While I agree task simple, in this case, as indicated, was concerned over possibly breaking liner and having to eat tank. Value was metal BTW.
    Thanks for mentioning the "tank drain ball valve". Will check if local supplier carries them.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 27, 2014
  6. Hairyhosebib

    Hairyhosebib New Member

    Messages:
    173
    Location:
    Arizona
    HMMMM, value? You mean valve. That is the first thing I do when I install a new water heater. Make certain the new ball valve is a full port valve. Here is a neat little trick. Do the action of actually tightening the original valve to break it loose. Once it breaks loose and moves then go ahead and unscrew it. This is a great trick on old steel threaded pipe that has been painted or some liquid sealant has been used. I live in Glendale. Need a hand?
  7. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    143
    Location:
    Arizona
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2014
  8. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    143
    Location:
    Arizona
    I'm having the same problem. That sucker is on there tight. I also am afraid to break it.
  9. Terry

    Terry Administrator Staff Member

    Messages:
    15,002
    Location:
    Bothell, Washington
    The plastic drains can break.
    That's why I won't buy a water heater with a plastic drain.
    If it does break, you can use a hack saw blad and cut from the inside out, not going as far as the metal threads in the tank, and then break the rest out.
    Sometimes I've used a torch at that point.

    I notice that Bradford White has a nice brass ball valve drain that allows me to clear it with a screw driver if it ever becomes clogged. Nice:)
  10. Wallijonn

    Wallijonn Member

    Messages:
    143
    Location:
    Arizona
    Now I wish I had known about BW earlier. Yeah, I probably would have bought it because I need a top TPR valve location. I think that heater would've been perfect. Now I wish I hadn't opened the HD WH box.
  11. SHR

    SHR Member

    Messages:
    99
    Location:
    Minnesota
    I will open a can of worms here but I only install Rheems nowadays and have not had any problems. One constant about plumbers and opinions on what is the best water heater-there is seldom a consensus favorite. For every water heater brand you can find many good honest plumbers who will swear by it as the best. I will not install new Bradford Whites because I have been replacing at least one 6-7 year-old Bradford White (out of warranty of course) every week. Good for my bank account, actually really good for it, bad for my poor customers who paid lots of money to have the Bradford Whites installed originally. I would remove the stock valve and replace it as you had planned. Do not worry about breaking the "liner". The insides of water heaters are porcelain lined, not glass like an old thermos.

    If you still want to take a chance on a BW, they are only sold to pros so call a plumber and have them install one for you. You can return the Rheem with your receipt to HD for a full refund even if the box is a mess.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2014
  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Active Member

    Messages:
    2,233
    Location:
    IL
    I just did this to clean sediments from an old water heater.

    I used a CPVC Schedule 80, gray, 3" length, 3/4" MPT nipple, but 1-1/2 long would have been enough.

    The plastic valve was easier to deal with than I expected. Unscrewing the big knob by hand released the whole stem with washer. The remainder was unscrewed from the water heater with a 1-5/16 socket. It seems less fragile than I feared.

    I was confused when I tried to fit a socket over the valve, only to finally realized that that was an 8-sided end on the valve. I did not need a socket, but the socket set was already out. Valve is brass Proline brand. On the end of the valve is a 3/4" NPT Male x 3/4 GH adapter. Despite what it might look like in the photo, the valve handle is not close to touching the gas control.

    I did a lot of flushing. It needed it. Initially I recirculated water with a utility pump to save dumping huge amounts of water into the septic. I alternated spraying fresh water into the anode hole and sending water into the regular dip tube through the regular plumbing. I am glad I don't pay myself by the hour.

    Attached Files:

    JerryR likes this.
  13. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,626
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; because I have been replacing at least one 6-7 year-old Bradford White (out of warranty of course) every week.

    EVERY brand has "at least on a week" replaced under warranty. Check their "boneyards". It has nothing to do with the heater's quality, but rather with the quality of water, how hot it is , and how much hot water you use. And, the manufacturers CANNOT control any of those factors.
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