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The AO Smith models from Lowe’s are rebranded Whirlpools. You have to pay more to get a real AO Smith from a plumbing supply.
That's up to the poster. I just put that out there as a suggestion.

Everybody knows just about all the items in the box stores are rebranded. Imo, they work just as good. Sometimes people can't afford the better quality ones.
 

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That's up to the poster. I just put that out there as a suggestion.

Everybody knows just about all the items in the box stores are rebranded. Imo, they work just as good. Sometimes people can't afford the better quality ones.
Not sure how many consumers understand the history of Whirlpool water heaters. I know I did not. I was attracted to the AO Smith brand at Lowe’s until I discovered they were the same Whirlpool crappers which had so many major quality issues. AOS bought Whirlpool and put their name on them. Just wanted to be sure OP knows this.
 

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Discussion Starter #23
Turn off the water heater heat before draining.

Start with a water power draining (called a flush) rather than a gravity draining. To do that, leave the cold water supply turned on, all faucets off and open the water heater drain valve.

If you take the handle off of that valve will the handle fit on the other way namely pointing down?

Another thing you could try, cut off all except one inch of the valve handle and put it back. Then you can use a large ordinary pliers to turn it on and off.

(To do a gravity draining, open a hot faucet upstairs after turning off the cold water. Every other draining every few months or so should be a flush.)

Since you went so many years without draining/flushing, do it every 2 weeks until you get little or no sediment out two consecutive times. Then y ou can switch to the usual every 6 months schedule.

Don't turn on the water heater heat until you open a hot faucet upstairs and see water gushing out for a whole minute without spurts of air.
So I did the flush on my water heater today and it did clear out some sediment. But then I wanted to try draining it so I did what you suggested to try flipping the valve to the bottom. Once I did that then I tried turning it and it started to leak water from the valve. So I turned it back to how it was to stop leaking. Do I have a bad gate valve then or am I doing something wrong. Thanks again
 

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The AO Smith models from Lowe’s are rebranded Whirlpools. You have to pay more to get a real AO Smith from a plumbing supply.
This was true when AO Smith took over American WH, which made Whirlpool. They put AO Smith stickers on the WHs they had in stock, but now, 4 years later, I doubt they have any American tanks left.
Notice the newer AO Smith sold at Lowes, their base is an AO Smith base, not an American 3 leg base.
Regardless, all water heater brands are about the same - they all have good units, so so units and crappy units.
 

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So I did the flush on my water heater today and it did clear out some sediment. But then I wanted to try draining it so I did what you suggested to try flipping the valve to the bottom. Once I did that then I tried turning it and it started to leak water from the valve. So I turned it back to how it was to stop leaking. Do I have a bad gate valve then or am I doing something wrong. Thanks again
I don't think so, maybe just a loose packing nut which you can tighten down on that ball valve.

When you remove the handle you will see a skinny 4 sided packing nut behind it which you can tighten with an open end wrench. If you zoom in on pic, I tried to circle it but the handle is in the way.

639887
 

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I would just make plans to replace it. I have seen people flush it after years of not flushing it, and end up with leaks. You remove the junk and expose the thin rusted layer that's left.
 
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