You are here:

Plumbing in the Home/Water Heater Drain Valve Removal


whirlpool gate valve
whirlpool gate valve  
Greetings Jay,

Last season I successfully replaced my gas water heater after the tank had been slowly leaking (first major plumbing accomplishment as a new homeowner).  I replaced it with a new 12 year whirlpool which is very nice, works well, and is efficient.  Love it.

Yesterday I drained/"flushed" the heater for the second time (the owners manual recommends every 6 mos).  I had planned that when I had it empty this time to install a new drain valve as many experts/plumbers recommend getting rid of the plastic gate valves that come with heaters these days (for longevity and faster draining etc).  So I bought a dielectric 3/4 nipple, a full port 3/4 ball valve, and then a 3/4 to Garden Hose adapter.

I'm trying to get the existing valve out -- there's the typical sleeve that buts up against the outer wall of the tank.  Pulling that back exposes some more of the original valve that is square and ripe to get a channel lock on.

When I started turning it left (ccw), even with all my might, I cannot get this plastic thing to budge.  Even to the point of the torque picking up budging the emptied water heater.

Do they ever epoxy these things in there or is it likely just tight?

Do you have any tips, tricks, pointers, advice?  Should I just leave the plastic one in there, avoid the risks of it breaking and then even being a larger problem?  Or should I bear down and crank on it?  I don't know if pb blaster would work on the plastic -- though it couldn't hurt probably.

Any advice is appreciated.  Thanks!


Brian, What is happening is the torque is forcing the plastic to go out of round and it is binding. The harder you crank on it..the more it twists and binds. Try spraying it with a good penetrating oil spray and then grab the valve as far away from the point where it is screwed in. If you should twist it off, you may have to cut the remaining piece out by using a hack saw blade and cut the stuck part out. To do this carefully cut the plastic from inside the hole towards the threads at the top and at the bottom then gently knock out the two halves. Be careful to not cut into the threads of the tank.
If I may make a comment. In the 40+ years I have been in the business, I have had customers who drain their tanks religiously and a majority of others who never touch them. I have found that there has been no difference in the life of the heaters being longer for those who drain and flush that those who never do. The average heater should last 10 to 13 longer ..some a lot shorter..It all depends on the quality of the welds and the glass coating inside the tank. Personally, I feel that draining and flushing it is just wasting water. This is just an old plumbers 2 cents.

Plumbing in the Home

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Jay Nicholas


Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)


40 years in the business, 35 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

Past/Present Clients
Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

©2016 All rights reserved.