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Re: Quick basic advice on a dripping gas 40-gal hot-water heater

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by Donna Ohl, Grady Volunteer Coordinator, Feb 17, 2008.

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  1. Hi trader,

    I learned this one in spades!

    We had used up some of the hot water (Bill took a really really long shower
    with the gas turned off) before the fiasco of the snapped valve:

    We had warm, not hot, water all over the garage as the tank shot it out two
    feet. Luckily I was around as the tank had just been righted after tipping
    over as we tried to get it off the stand, full of water. It was horrid.

    The only good thing was you had already admonished us to have tepid water
    in the tank and that's what saved us from getting scalded as Bill stuck his
    finger in the hole (it was just the right size) to stop the leak and I
    bucketed the water outside.

    We would have been burned had we not taken that good advice from this
    newsgroup! Others should heed the warning too.

  2. Hi hallerb,
    I understand your point. But, from what I read, they used to be brass and
    the manufacturers switched to the plastic for cost reasons only.

    Also, I read a brass ball valve doesn't clog as easily.

    Given our experience this past weekend, where the valve first clogged and
    then broke off inside the water heater, it would seem to us that over time,
    the brass will be less likely to break than the plastic.

    Of course, one reason ours clogged was likely the fact we never flushed it
    so the sediments may have been too much for any valve - and one reason it
    broke is that we were manhandling it trying to get the tipped-over water
    heater back on the stand ... so you might be right.

    I think I now understand how to replace the brass valve. In fact, a more
    important issue came up in that our dishwasher suddenly stopped working. I
    think it's due to the sediment being sent through the pipes (our shower
    heads were totally clogged all of a sudden, with sandy grainy stuff).

    I opened a separate thread on to ask how to clean out a
    dishwasher without being able to remove it (it's bricked in it seems).

    I feel like "this old house" is attacking me so it's nice to have this
    wonderful newsgroup as my friends to help in times of need!

  3. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    The dishwasher is bricked in? Sheesh, how did they even manage that?

    Fortunately most things can be accessed by removing the kick plate. The
    water inlet is a solenoid valve normally in the left-front corner of the
    machine. It will attach with a compression fitting which you can disconnect
    and then you should be able to remove the valve and clean it out. I suspect
    your clog is right there.
  4. Guest

    Don't bother replacing the WH drain now. Fix the clogged dishwasher
    Replace that factory drain valve in six months when you flush the WH
    for your first maintenance interval.

    As for that clogged dishwasher, you'll likely have to break the bricks
    bricking it in in order to get to the innards.
    Good luck. Ask questions. Take advice with a grain of salt.

    And post back with your results!
  5. Guest

    donna is a nice new home owner. before you know it she will be like
    most of us long termers, doing what we must, and ignoring drain valves

    all she needs is doing one preventive maintence job that turns a
    working whatever into a non functional disaster that costs a fortune
    to fix.

    i rather imagine most of us have been thru one of those.

    kinda like pruning a tree, having a limb fall onto the roof, while
    replacing damaged shingles fall off roof, hit power line, ripping it
    off the side of the house. fortunately the poor fellow didnt get
    shocked, or seriously hurt.

    but the colateral costs, pay someone to finish tree trimming and clean
    up, pay electrician to put service back on house, losts food in
    fridge, power was off too long. my friend, spent nearly 2 days in
    hospital, sent home on crutches.missed a week work no sick time.......

    this happened to a guy i knew.

    a old neighbor decided to replace his bathroom floor. lose floorboard,
    ran nail into water line, flood took down kitchen cieling..

    need plumber, new cieling and contracted out bathroom redo.

    so he decided cars would be his thing, took air cleaner off to adjust
    carbuerator, reved engine, air cleaner housing dropped into fan went
    thru radiator.

    tow truck, new fan, new radiator, misc repairs, had carb replaced.

    new DIYers be careful so we dont add your story to the list:)

    my memorable event:(

    did some plumbing, opened main valve with one connection still open to
    flush lines, main valve failed couldnt shut off, had to call water
    company who had great trouble finding main valve, as street had been

    could of got arrested so upset i forgot to pay for valve at hardware
    store, i just walked out, no register stop, the store owner who knew
    me thought it funny, as my shoies went squish squish waterlogged as i
    walked out..

    just a memorable day for a home repairer.

    a buddy of mine in detroit was doing some wiring, turned breaker back
    on, all power in building went out, fact all power from detroit to new
    york. that big power failure from some years ago........... wasnt his
    fault but just imagine:)

    now that was funny!!!!!
  6. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    all she needs is doing one preventive maintence job that turns a

    Oh it happens to the best of us, it's why contractors are bonded. I once
    went to replace the distributor on a car, somehow managed to drop a socket
    down into the timing belt cover while trying to locate TDC, and then broke
    the timing belt in the process of getting that out. Thankfully it turned out
    to be a non-interference engine so no major damage was done. On top of all
    that, the car happened to belong to my boss, and I was working on it in the
    back parking lot at work. A 20 minute job turned into 3 days of early
    mornings and late evenings since so much had to come apart to fix the stupid
    thing. In the end though no real harm was done and it was a learning
    experience to say the least. Some would give up after that, but being a true
    DIYer I climbed back in the saddle and haven't made that same mistake again.
    For every time I break something and make a job 10x what it should have
    been, I save a fortune on a dozen other projects by doing them myself and I
    can provide advice to others to prevent them from doing what I did.

    When I was a kid I watched my dad hit a water pipe with a Sawzall while
    putting in a light fixture, oops! Always take great care to cut a small hole
    first so you can see whats in there.
  7. jakdedert

    jakdedert Guest

    This could turn into a whole new thread of major f*ckups that we learned

    (One of) mine was when replacing the clutch on the family car--along
    with my older brother--when we were 14 and 17 respectively. I put the
    first bolt in the pressure plate, 'bumped' the starter in order to pull
    the engine around to access the rest...

    ....and forgot to pull the coil wire. BAM! Engine fired up (briefly)
    and trashed the new pressure plate. Luckily no other damage or injury

  8. Rod Speed

    Rod Speed Guest

    Never had even a single one of those, and I physically built the entire house.
  9. N8N

    N8N Guest

    Ain't that the truth.

    I still err on the side of too much PM because I seem to be one of
    those guys who manage to pull off just about every job I actually *do*
    without too much hassle, but God forbid that I let any PM slide on
    anything, it will bite me in the a$$... There are a few exceptions to
    that rule however.

    the funniest was, though, my ex-GF had a '69 Plymouth Valiant that I'd
    found for her, because her old Monte Carlo was too much of a rusty
    roach to pass PA state safety inspection without a new frame. It was
    in immaculate shape, and ran and drove well. she took it to a local
    garage to get it inspected and the guy failed her for dry-rotted
    suspension bushings. So I called up PST, ordered a front end rebuild
    kit, and went to town. I figured that it would be pretty easy, and
    after all I was a mechanical engineering student so had access to the
    school machine shop, what could possibly go wrong? I drove the
    control arms down to another shop to have them bead blasted, painted
    everything up real nice, went to put the first side back together and
    I realize that the strut rod bushings are WAY too thick. Called up
    PST, after being on the phone with tech support for quite some while,
    figured out that they had the year breaks in their catalog wrong and I
    needed the earlier version. Well their bastard people wouldn't trade
    me for the ones I needed, wouldn't sell them separately, etc. etc.
    etc. Also found out that one tie rod was swapped end for end so I
    needed to order a new inner tie rod end as well (basic rebuild kit
    only had outer tie rods, and the inspector had flagged outer tie rod
    ends for replacement as well.) Car was on jackstands on the street in
    front of her house for about 3 weeks while this was all going on (this
    was supposed to be about a 3-day project, I had it all planned out...)
    finally her annoying neighbor called the city to schedule tree
    trimming, I had to throw the car together one evening wrong bushings
    and all just to move it so it didn't get towed. By this time I'd
    found a guy with a machine shop in his basement to turn down the strut
    rod bushings for me to the thickness actually required, but I didn't
    have time to R&R the lower control arm on one side.

    Somewhere out there there is still a pea soup green '69 Valiant with a
    nice polygraphite front end that has one original rubber lower control
    arm bushing and one original rubber strut rod bushing... what a
    charlie foxtrot.

    You would think that I'd learned my lesson but a couple months later
    my '67 Dart blew up its transmission on my way to her house, and I
    coasted it into the exact same parking place where the Valiant had
    been sitting. I borrowed the Valiant, went to the junkyard, got
    another transmission, swapped that in at the side of the road in the
    snow, and the car moved about 6 feet and never moved again. I sold it
    for $50 just to get it the hell out of my sight.

    Lesson learned; I don't do any work on cars outside of a garage or
    driveway anymore... no job, no matter how simple appearing, is not
    going to take about 10x as long as you think it is and if you're in a
    hurry you're going to make mistakes.


    (you may all laugh at me now)
  10. Only Just

    Only Just Guest

    Any good installation of an appliance like a washing machine, dishwasher etc
    should have a filter screen / rubber washer fitted to the hose fitting to
    the tap that controls the water to the appliance, with a bit of luck it
    should be as easy as to removing the hose from the tap and cleaning that
    filter / screen. There could be an additional screen fitted to the water
    inlet valve on the appliance as well that might need cleaning so depending
    on the difficulty on accessing the fittings, start with the easy one first
    and test from there before attempting the more difficult one. If you have
    cleaned out all the filters and it still doesn't work you could have had the
    unfortunate problem of luck that it also failed at close to the same time
    (It happens occasionally unfortunately) so good luck with it all.
  11. Guest

    I just installed a couple dishwashers, one for us and one for a
    friend, and one for a friend, no screen washers,,,,,,,,,
  12. Guest

    new work is safer, you know whats there.

    old work is a pain cause you cant know where stuff is, like hidden
    water phone and electric lines
  13. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    I just installed a couple dishwashers, one for us and one for a

    They usually have one in the water inlet solenoid itself. Thankfully the
    intake plumbing on a dishwasher is really simple. Copper tubing to a
    compression fitting at the solenoid valve, and a hose out of that through a
    nozzle into the washer compartment. The recirculation plumbing that does the
    washing is separate and very hard to clog.
  14. Rod Speed

    Rod Speed Guest

    I've never had anything like that with previous houses
    either, and its easy enough to check for that stuff.
  15. Bob

    Bob Guest

    Another trick to totally avoid the plastic drain valve is to have a 3/4"
    pipe fitting ready that can attach to a hose, then unscrew and remove
    the gas valve and thermostat assembly and slide the pipe and hose in its
  16. Hi James,
    I'm going to try to remove that kick plate later this week.
    I unclogged the shower yesterday; it was filled with sand grains:

    I unclogged the kitchen sink with a scissors today.

    Notice the sand grains on my cutting board.
    They were all over the place!

    This new sand does not look like the "scale" that was in the galvanized

    Where did all this sand come from?

  17. I looked underneath today. There is a hose going to the garbage disposal
    and another hose going to the faucet. There is a wire going to an
    electrical outlet. I'll look more later this week as I had to visit my
    grandchildren tonight and didn't get back home till late.

    Here is what the dishwasher looks like:

    When I take the kick plate off, I'll snap a picture and show you what that
    "solonoid" looks like.

  18. PM?
  19. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    Hey that looks identical to the one I just yanked out of my place, the motor
    died and the rest was in pretty sad shape, but the new one is very similar
    and works great. At any rate I'm familiar with the innards. When you remove
    the kick plate, you'll find adjustable screw feet and you should be able to
    lower it down enough to get it to fit under the counter lip. The solenoid
    valve will be right up front on the left side, mine is blue.
  20. preventative maintenance
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