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Old 08-02-2010, 07:41 PM   #1
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


My water heater wasn't working efficiently so I was trying to drain it. I shut off the cold water and that went fine. I used the cold water valve to flush out the sediment a couple of times. Then, I was trying to shut off the cold water again and the valve just kept turning like it was stripped. I could turn it forever in either direction and nothing happens.

I shut off the cold water further up the line and tried to remove the handle of the valve thinking I would just replace it (its the old school round shaped handle - if this link works, its the type pictured here: http://www.lowes.com/pd_89255-33599-M300+2_0_?productId=3136961&Ntt=water+valve&Ntk=i_ products&pl=1&currentURL=/pl__0__s?newSearch=true$Ntt=water%20valve$y=0$x=0) . I unscrewed the nut closest to the handle and it came off but I couldn't get the handle to come loose. So I went to work on the next nut up the line, but it won't budge. I don't want to use too much force and crack any of the piping.

I don't know what to do and my wife will kill me if I don't get the hot water heater working again by morning :-) Any advice about this issue would be much appreciated.

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Old 08-02-2010, 08:06 PM   #2
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


Is the valve that is turning the drain valve on the heater? If so, you could buy a cap with hose thread to temporarily cap it off (assuming it broke in the drain on state). If it is another valve and it is stuck on, why would that prevent you from having hot water? YOu would want it on wouldn't you?

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Old 08-02-2010, 08:11 PM   #3
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


Your best bet is to replace the whole valve.
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:18 PM   #4
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


bob202 - thanks for your reply. Yes, its the cold water valve closest to the water heater. The problem is that the water heater seems to either not be filling at all or filling very slowly so I'm thinking the broken valve is preventing the normal flow of water into it. The valve handle spins freely in either direction so I'm not really sure what's going on inside of the valve itself.

TheEplumber - thanks for your reply as well. I was hoping that I could avoid replacing the entire valve because it it soldered on and I have no experience soldering. Do you think this is the only solution?
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:24 PM   #5
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


This may sound silly and it's probably not that, but did you try tightening the valve screw? Assuming it's a normal turning valve and not a 90 bend one.
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:29 PM   #6
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


Red Squirrel - yes, I've tried tightening the valve screw. Its the shaft of the valve itself that is spinning freely inside of the valve. I wish I could remove the next bolt up, but I'm not even sure if its possible. It seems to be part of the valve itself and I cannot get it to budge.
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Old 08-02-2010, 08:56 PM   #7
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


I need to catch up, is it a gate or ball valve and is it located on the incoming water to your heater?
If gate valve, does the handle spin and stem not? Or does the stem spin with handle?

I'm not a huge fan of shark bite fittings but you could use them to cut out and replace your valve. Hire a plumber for a permanate fix
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Old 08-02-2010, 09:52 PM   #8
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


If it is a gate valve they go bad all the time the stem strips out of the gate. Replace with a ball valve
Copper or galv.?
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:32 PM   #9
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


TheEplumber - it is a gate valve and it is located on the incoming cold water line. And it is the stem itself that is spinning, not just the handle.

plumberinlaw - okay, that is what I was afraid of - I guess the stem is just stripped. I'll have to get someone to come out and replace the valve.

Thanks to everyone for the troubleshooting advice.
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:39 PM   #10
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


Call me paranoid but ...

Maybe we need to warn home handymen to have a screw on cap on handy before starting to drain the water heater. Unfortunately this is one more step to the process with the result that the job gets procrastinated on.

It is not hard to visualize all 40 gallons of water from the tank all over the floor before you are done if you can't get the drain valve closed again.

Also turn off the heater before starting to drain it and don't turn it back on until you have water flowing from hot faucets upstairs. Otherwise in addition to the flood you have the bottom of the tank burned through (or the elements burned out if electric).
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Last edited by AllanJ; 08-02-2010 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 08-02-2010, 10:50 PM   #11
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


AllanJ - thanks for your concern but as I've explained the problem is NOT the drain valve, which works fine and would be very easy to cap in an event. The problem is with the valve on the incoming cold water. Before beginning the job I had located the next cold water valve up the line in case I needed to shut it off there for some reason, so that wasn't an issue either.

I agree that its important for people to know to turn off the gas or electricity so they don't destroy their water heater, but this wasn't my problem either.
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Old 08-02-2010, 11:09 PM   #12
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Broken Valve on Water Heater


Quote:
Originally Posted by bdr122 View Post
TheEplumber - it is a gate valve and it is located on the incoming cold water line. And it is the stem itself that is spinning, not just the handle.

plumberinlaw - okay, that is what I was afraid of - I guess the stem is just stripped. I'll have to get someone to come out and replace the valve.

Thanks to everyone for the troubleshooting advice.
I think you've chosen the right course of action. A valve is not a fitting to practice your soldering skills on. Especially with the boss breathing down your neck
While the plumber is there, have him look at your other valves as well. It can't hurt. Make sure he installs full port ball valves too. He should know what those are.

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