Sunday, February 28, 2010

Draining a Water Heater

My house's basement has no floor drain, so when my almost 19-year-old water heater sprang a leak I had to come up with a way to drain the thing. The main sewage pipe has a clean-out, so I uncapped it, shoved one end of a length of garden hose down it and connected the other end to the water heater's drain-valve fitting.

Problem solved, eh? Not quite.

The leak was at the top of the tank, so I closed the drain valve after what I thought should be sufficient draining. I had the cold water supply valve to the heater shut off, of course, but I could still hear water dribbling in the pipes and the tank. I took that to be just some remaining upstairs water making its way down that wouldn't amount to much.

A little later, I looked in on the heater and the leak was back; the tank had fully refilled. At least part of the dribbling noise I'd heard must have been from a faulty cold water supply valve that wasn't closing properly.

So now I had to leave the drain hose in place overnight until the guys could come and replace the water heater, and I didn't want to leave that gaping hole open like that all night. Never mind what manner of gaseous emission might belch forth, I've heard stories about what dwells in sewers, and I didn't want any urban myths slithering about in my basement while we slept.

I could have just shoved a wadded up towel in alongside the hose, I suppose, but that's no fun when you have a fairly well-equipped workshop. I took a few dimensions, rummaged through my bin full of off-cuts, spent a bit of time at the table saw and drill press and came up with this.

It's a scrap of 1/4" firply with three holes drilled through it. That hose has no fitting on its downstream end, so it just fits nicely through a 3/4" diameter hole.

All was still well the next morning. The guys came and did a fine job of installing a new water heater and cold water supply valve, so the house is back in business as it ought to be.

I must hang my plywood drain-hose adapter on a nail nearby for safe-keeping. I want to see if I live long enough to need it again.

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