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Old 02-09-2013, 02:14 PM   #1
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Hello All - New to the forum with a bit of a plumbing emergency so excuse me if I skip the niceties a bit.

Trying to drain my Kenmore Power Miser 5 HWH (propane). I'm new to plumbing. I followed the simple instructions I found online, close the cold intake, drain from the bottom. Things were going fine but they just kept going and going and going. It's a 30 gal tank and I have most certainly drained thirty gal and the flow keeps coming, slower and less powerful but still coming. I believe in the laws of physics so I'm getting a bit befuddled. There are only two intakes on the tank, cold water and gas and two outputs, TP valve and hot water out or am I missing something? Is it possible for water to enter from the hot water out? (sorry - I'm getting a bit frantic).

Background that might be pertinent? We have a well and therefore a water tank inside the same basement as the HWH, which holds water pumped from the well as needed. The hot water faucets (kitchen and bathroom - both one handled jobs) keep flowing also after all my draining.

Seems the only wild card here is the indoor water tank? Do I need to take it off line?

P.S. - I searched the forum and found related info but nothing to help me directly

Probably totally unrelated, but to fill in the whole back story, yesterday the TP valve blew and filled the area with water and steam. I'm fairly sure that happened because the wife turned up the thermo on the HWH to 70% and the water just got too darned hot. She did that in reponse to the fact that the pilot has gone off a few time in the past week (don't ask me the logic I only live here).

I thought while trying to get the HWH back online I would do the draining (which I didn't know was a maintenance issue until I hit the Google). I'll probably be back about the pilot light

TIA to anyone who can give this old coot a clue,
Littlalex


Last edited by littlalex; 02-09-2013 at 02:17 PM. Reason: forgot to mention that I searched for answer
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:24 PM   #2
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Do you have a gate valve on the water heater? It may not be working all the way.

Also : You have to let air into the tank somewhere too, otherwise you're getting an air lock similar to turning a gallon of water upside down all at once.

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Old 02-09-2013, 02:29 PM   #3
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Magic HWH won't drain?


All the water in the house is draining back to the tank.
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Old 02-09-2013, 02:37 PM   #4
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Open up the pressure relief valve. I think someone hit the nail on the head, those gate valves are worthless and need to be replaced with ball valves.
If you have to shut the pump off until you can get the valve replaced.
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Old 02-09-2013, 03:34 PM   #5
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Thanks for all the quick responses!!!

You're all basically saying that yes, there are ways for water to flow back into the tank (vacuum, back pressure or bad valve). That being understood, since the HWH draining was not my original problem, and since I've put a lot of water in and then out of the tank (with the water going from pretty discolored and containing sediment of a pinkish color to now almost perfectly clear) can I consider the draining operation done, make sure the drainage valve is closed, open the cold intake valve and fill the HWH tank (while the HW faucets are open to relieve pressure) and go back to figuring out the issue with the pilot light? Remember the HWH was working fine until the TP spewed because the wife turned up the thermo way too high. (I just tested the TP valve and it's working).

No need to spend a lot of time on a non issue, no? My house and it's systems are all less than optimal and I don't have the $$$ to make them so. I just want to get back to having hot water again but I want to make sure I'm not missing something.

Thanks for all you valuable responses. I'm a member of a bunch of forums, many of them quite helpful and active, but the responses here are bullet speed and totally on target...great stuff!

Littlalex
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:39 PM   #6
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Over looking that you have a problem with the unit other than the p%T being bad it should not have fired the heater should have shut down on over heat keep an eye on that unit,
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Old 02-09-2013, 04:45 PM   #7
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Magic HWH won't drain?


There was 0 reason to totaly drain the tank.
Just a few gallons would have been enough.
70% still would not have been enough to trip a correctly working valve.
Now your going to have to remove all the aeriators of the faucets and run some water to flush out the sediment that got stured up.
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Old 02-09-2013, 05:39 PM   #8
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Joe and Javiles - Thanks for the info.

Javiles - I'm not doubting your expertise (ala your URL). I have an obvious desire/need for things not to be broken because I can't afford a pro to come in. Given all that, didn't the TP valve behave as it should regarding an overheat? Is it not a "last ditch" emergency feature. The amount of steam in the room indicated that the water was certainly boiling or close (TP set for 210 I think). Perhaps if the TP blows like this it always means there is a serious problem in the system? That in a safely functioning unit turning up the thermo even all the way would not cause a TP release? Are you saying the system is unsafe to bring back up at all? (I'm not asking you to make my decisions for me nor take any responsibility for my situation as is made clear in joining the forum). I'll be doing other research also.

I thought I would fire the unit up and keep a very close watch on it for a number of hours to see if it a) pilot light went out (minor compared to b) if the TP blew again I would certainly shut it down and try to find some way to bring in a pro. That situation would be out of my comfort zone.

Do folks think that is a viable strategy? Please excuse my fumbling between safety and my lack of finances.

Littlalex

Last edited by littlalex; 02-09-2013 at 05:43 PM. Reason: Spelled Javiles name incorrectly -
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Old 02-09-2013, 07:38 PM   #9
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Not knowing the specs on that WH am assuming its right around 35000 BTU's the max operating temperature is about 190 tops. the P&T did its job but its usually the last devise on the safety scale so if it opened when the heater over heated it exceeded its normal max operating temp, could be a bad valve or you could have a bad thermostat, did you mentioned in the past the heater had shut down. what commonly happens with older gas water heater is that the temperature pick up probe gets coated with calcium and all kinds of junk building up a you might say insulation , thus the probe fails to read the correct water temperature the water is actually hotter than the heater thinks. so it will fire off the P&T or you could just have a bad thermostats easy fix's you can probably get tech support from the manufacture they usually have a 800 number for that purpose.
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Old 02-09-2013, 09:09 PM   #10
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Do you have an expansion tank for your domestic water?

If your wife cranked up the heat on the tank and either a) you don't have an expansion tank or b) it's water logged, that might lead to pressure opening the T&P instead of temperature. Also, splash back from the T&P releasing may of extinguished the pilot. It's unlikely, but I've seen stranger things.
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:07 AM   #11
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Hi Joe - We don't have an expansion tank and the recent impressive fireworks kind of hyper release from the T&P valve has only happened the one time. The same valve has not historically leaked either and does not now after another test just a few minutes ago. Don't think the pilot has been being killed by water.

Moving ahead I'd like to fill the tank and start over again troubleshooting the pilot. Thing is, the SOP of filling the tank with water with inlet open and having a HW faucet open to release air until water flows doesn't apply here as established earlier. Again the HW faucets run with full force with no hot water in the HWH because of whatever backflow, vacuum, etc is in my system. I'm not sure how to know the the heater is filled with water.

I understand that lighting and running a HWH without a full tank presents a number of possible nasties. I'm thinking of powering off the water tank inside the basement fed from our well as a possible way of letting the faucets be empty and then flow when the HWH tank is filled. Does this hold any water?

I've done some more research and am not panicky as I was about working on the unit. Replacing a T&P valve, or a thermocoupler and burner assembly looks rather simple and withing my "zone" thanks to all the helpful responses from folks.

Thanks again,
Littlalex
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:23 AM   #12
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Sounds like your CW gate to your heater is bad and your tank was never emptied. Did you hear the well pump running while you were cleaning the tank?
A side note- do not cap off the T&P valve should it blow again- you sound smarter then that
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Old 02-10-2013, 10:44 AM   #13
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Magic HWH won't drain?


An option is to open the T&P valve while you are filling it. When water starts coming out of it, you'll know the water is at the level of the T&P.
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Old 02-10-2013, 05:33 PM   #14
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Quote:
Originally Posted by littlalex View Post
Hi Joe - We don't have an expansion tank and the recent impressive fireworks kind of hyper release from the T&P valve has only happened the one time. The same valve has not historically leaked either and does not now after another test just a few minutes ago.
If the T&P is working correctly, which it most likely is then the only reason it would release is either a) the temperature of your water was extremely high and thus very dangerous or b) the pressure in your system was extremely high and thus dangerous and damaging to yourself and your plumbing system.

A hot water heating system that is functioning safely, does NOT have the T&P release. Even if your wife touches the controls.
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Old 02-10-2013, 11:12 PM   #15
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Magic HWH won't drain?


Thanks to all who jumped in to share their expertise.

I have a neighbor/friend who has a neighbor/friend who is a plumber and we've setup an even barter, he fixes my HWH and I but together and install a Home Theater setup for him.

All's well that ends well that doesn't cost me money I don't have.

Thanks Again,
Littlalex

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