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Old 01-19-2009, 02:15 PM   #1
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Hot Water Heater Spigot Leak

Water is slowly dripping out of the spigot at the bottom of my hot water heater. The water heater works fine, so I would just like to repair the leak.

Somebody suggested capping the spigot with a copper garden hose cap, which seems like it should work. Only it's still leaking around the cap.

I've wrapped the male end (the spigot) in teflon tape and tried that, but the water is still making its way around that and dripping on the floor.

Is there another way to make a good seal of the cap on the spigot?

Is it the fact that I am attaching a copper cap to a plastic spigot?

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Old 01-19-2009, 03:29 PM   #2
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Have you drained the WH lately? If you have you may have shut the valve off on a piece of scale. Try opening and shutting the valve off and on a few times to clear the scale. If this is not the case, make sure the brass cap has a hose washer in it. That should work.
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Old 01-20-2009, 07:28 AM   #3
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I never drained it, it just started leaking. I suppose its possible it was bumped accidentally and turned slightly on and now is closing on a piece of scale, but I've emptied a few buckets from it and tried closing it several times and that won't work.

OK, dumb question - what is a hose washer? The brass cap has a rubber type thing towards the back of the cap, that I suppose the male end of the spigot is supposed to be pushing against when the cap is on. Is that what you mean?
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Old 01-20-2009, 08:45 AM   #4
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hose washer

Your water heater should be drained at least once per year. I try to remember to do mine twice. Since you are already having a problem with the drain there is no better time than now.

Shut off the power, or gas. Close the cold water inlet valve. Connect a garden hose to the spigot and open the valve. Wait a few seconds for the pressure to reduce and then open the TPR valve located at or near the top of the tank. The open TPR valve will allow air to flow into the tank making it possible for the water to flow out. It will take anywhere from 1 to several hours for the tank to drain completely.

Once the water flow has stopped, open the cold water inlet for a few seconds. This will stir up all of the crud that has setteled in the bottom of the tank. Do that a few times, letting it flow out between each pulse. Depending on the age of the water heater, you make have scale build up that is above the height of the spigot, that would be bad and it make the flushing process take longer. I have never gotten all of the scale out of a tank, I just pulse/flush them until the water I see coming out doesn't make me want to vomit.

Once you are reasonably sure that you have gotten most of the scale out of the way, close the spigot, and open the cold water inlet. Leave the TPR valve open to allow the water to flow in. Stick around while tha tank refills. You will be able to hear air escaping from the TPR. When water comes out of the TPR you are full, close the TPR. Wait a few seconds and then open the TPR again for just a split second to burp any remaining air. Makes a mess, I know, but I think it's necessary (maybe not).

Next remove the aerators from your faucets and open the hot water side. Start with the faucet closest to the water heater. Let each faucet run until only water is coming out. Should only take a few minutes tops.The water is bound to come out some color other than clear. It will take a few hours for the sediment to settle.

Oh yeah, turn the power or gas back on.

With any luck all of that will get the crud out of your way. If the spigot still leaks try adding a second hose washer to the cap (they can be purchased at any hardware store or home center).

If that doesn't work, or if you are uncomfortable with the process, call a plumber. Good Luck.
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Old 01-20-2009, 09:38 PM   #5
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Plumbers Putty Did Not Help

My last ditch effort at using the cap (instead of draining the whole thing and replacing the stem) failed.

I was trying to apply the garden hose cap but with the addition of plumber's putty all over the male end of the spigot. That didn't help.

Is it still leaking due to the water pressure from the 40 gallons of water above the spigot? If so, this is surprising to me because its only a drips worth of pressure.

I guess my next step is draining the whole tank and replacing the stem
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Old 01-21-2009, 06:17 PM   #6
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did you tighten the packing on the valve itself ?that capping it (clean all the teflon and anyhing else you have tried) with just the rubber in the cap should do it...hand tight is normal possible treads of the petcock is leaking.
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Old 01-22-2009, 09:31 PM   #7
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plumber putty NEVER work on sealing a leak thats is old school.burp just replace your bolier drain end of will cost you like under 10 dollars,dont think so hard.if u were as go as i u wound not have to drain w/h 2 change out boiler drain..good luck

Last edited by drunknmaster; 01-22-2009 at 09:34 PM.
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Old 01-23-2009, 04:05 PM   #8
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Replace your spigot with a ball type spigot. The ones that come with the
water heater a cheap and a prone to leakage.
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Old 01-23-2009, 06:28 PM   #9
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Is the edge of the spigot flat and free of burrs? Sometimes it is of molded plastic and there are rough edges on opposite sides where the mold halves came together. Now if the edge of the spigot is tilted, it would take a lot of filing to get it so a hose cap with washer will seal it tightly.

I am hesitant to replace the entire spigot because I am paranoic about having something else go wrong and not being able to put the tank back together.

Last edited by AllanJ; 01-23-2009 at 06:32 PM.
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:52 AM   #10
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the male threads on a spigot are not designed to take a cap, just examing the threads on the cap and the spigot you should see a difference in spacing between each thread, I would take drunks advice and simply replace the boiler drain, its very simple, just follow the advice of the others in the process of draing the tank, buy a new spigot, not sure which size your water heater takes, should be 1/2" or 3/4" male, remove old one with channel locks or pipe wrench and install new one, remember to rap threads with atleast three wraps of teflon, remember teflon needs to be wrapped so that on the last wrap the end of the teflon will face you, this is to prevent the teflon from being pulled off from the female threads inside the heater, then coat the teflon with some pipe dope. Its an extremely DIY project and the most time you would spend on the job is draining the heater.
and remember to refill the tank before turning the power back on, elements and no water, not a good combo.

Last edited by zosoplumber; 01-24-2009 at 07:55 AM. Reason: forgot something
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Old 05-24-2016, 03:10 PM   #11
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Re: Hot Water Heater Spigot Leak

It's 7 years later, and I'm having the same problem, so thank you all these years later, Able Hands, for the time you took out of your day to help with a detailed step-by-step!
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