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Old 11-19-2009, 11:42 AM   #1
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Natural gas water heater-winter maintenance


Hello! Wondered if someone could lay out step by step instructions for draining and cleaning out my gas-fired water heater. Hot water delivery to the bathroom has slowed down over the past two weeks, with no apparent relationship to weather (cold). Thanks.

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Old 11-23-2009, 11:06 PM   #2
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Natural gas water heater-winter maintenance


I turned off the gas lever so it's perpendicular (cross ways) with the gas line coming in. Turned off the water valve immediately beside the tank.

Turned off the gas and water lines coming onto the property as an extra precaution.

Took a wrench and undid the gas line, then capped it off with a flare plug just to be safe. (Do not use pipe dope or tape to any flare connections.) Turned the gas back on and bubbled the plug with soapy water to see if it was leaking - no bubbles.

Removed the leg pipe that was hooked to the relief valve because it was blocking the drainage pipe.

Wrenched the white plastic drainage "screw" because it was too stuck to turn by hand until the water started to drip out. Hooked up my garden hose. Turned the white "screw" even more and the water ran out through the hose. My rose plants are happy now.

Turned out that my property valves to turn off the water weren't working (too stuck open - too old) , so my trees/plants got a good watering. Called the water company and they arrived in pretty good time to turn off my water at the main by the road.

Tomorrow, I'll really drain the water heater, unhook the rest of the pipes and haul the water heater's metal butt out of there. It leaks and it doesn't heat. It's a gonner.

Does that help at all?

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Old 11-23-2009, 11:11 PM   #3
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Natural gas water heater-winter maintenance


Try shutting off the heater, then drain and flush it a few times. You may have a sediment build up. Sediment in the bottom of the tank can act as an insulation of sorts preventing proper heat conduction.
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Old 11-24-2009, 09:33 AM   #4
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Natural gas water heater-winter maintenance


Thanks for the input Armchair and Kasin. I read somewhere that I could turn the water back on, once it starting draining, to allow a full flushing. Good idea, or no? Also, I'm shy about how to relight the flame, so I've put off starting this project. Any ideas as to where I could find such instruction, as I don't have the book on this? Again, thanks for responding!
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Old 11-24-2009, 08:38 PM   #5
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Natural gas water heater-winter maintenance


Yes, I usually turn the water back on to flush out the water heater for a couple of minutes.
Lighting the pilot light is not difficult. Most brands are basically the same procedure. But try a google search for your particular brand and model. Maybe you could find exact specific instructions.
Don't worry it's not difficult or dangerous, you can do it.

Edit: Actually you do not need to shut off the gas supply to drain the water heater. Turn the thermostat to the pilot position. The pilot light will remain lit, but the burner will not ignite. Drain and flush the tank then set the thermostat back to the desired temp.
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