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Old 02-23-2010, 01:20 PM   #1
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Water Heater Plug Stuck

My 2007 391XL has a rusty looking plug on the hot water heater. I wanted to pull it out and drain any accumulated gunk and check the condition of the anode rod. Can't get this plug to move at all and I'm afraid of damaging the heater or the threads. I've sprayed it repeatedly with WD40 but so far no luck. Any suggestions? I'm mildly handy with plumbing, electrical and general construction but somehow never picked up any real automotive expertise.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:11 PM   #2
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Did you try releasing the pressure relief valve first to break a vacuum? or It's probably rusted in there. If so try heating it some with a torch. Be careful around all of the other stuff there. Get a 1-1/8" socket 1/2" drive, I think that's right, a long 1/2" entension and a long 1/2" drive braker bar. Try pulling up on it. If using a ratchet try to find a piece of steel pipe to slide over the end of the handle to gain leverage.
Also once you get it out clean the threads with a wire fitting brush or hard brass bristle brush and use teflon tape on the threads of the anode rod before replacing it in the opening.
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Old 02-23-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cfsoistman View Post
Did you try releasing the pressure relief valve first to break a vacuum? or It's probably rusted in there. If so try heating it some with a torch. Be careful around all of the other stuff there. Get a 1-1/8" socket 1/2" drive, I think that's right, a long 1/2" entension and a long 1/2" drive braker bar. Try pulling up on it. If using a ratchet try to find a piece of steel pipe to slide over the end of the handle to gain leverage.
X2 here, get a good 6 sided socket of the appropriate size that fits the plug head. I can't remember what size it is but cfsoistman is probably correct with 1-1/8"
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:02 PM   #4
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the size is 1-1/16" . i keep one at the trailer with a 6" extension and a breaker bar. a little intimidating when those plugs are hard to get out,so it helps to have the proper tool. and like cfsoistman said,use teflon tape on the replacement.
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Old 02-23-2010, 04:06 PM   #5
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WD40 is NOT the same as Liquid wrench.
Go to your local hardware store and get a little can of liquid wrench
and soak the threads for a couple of days.
Add some heat if necessary.
It will come out.
I use "oatey great white" pipe dope with teflon on mine.
They sell it at Home Depot and Lowes.
It gives me better coverage and less rusting that plain teflon tape.
YMMV.
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Old 02-23-2010, 05:43 PM   #6
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Do I remember someone using something like "ice in a can" to spray on the anode rod plug to cool it down so that it will contract some? Or am I imaging that??

That, along with penetrating oil, and a good 1 1/6th socket with a breaker bar is probably all that can be done.
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Old 02-24-2010, 08:58 AM   #7
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Drain Plug

Thanks for all the good advice. I'm all over it on my next visit to the MH.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:06 AM   #8
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When you put it back in only tighten it to just pass finger tight, do not torque it.
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Old 02-24-2010, 09:49 AM   #9
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Heat is a good idea. Just be careful with fire in that area. Have an old dish detergent bottle full of water ready. This item has pipe threads which means it is tapered so the more it is turned, the more it is "wedged" in the heater tank. Heating the plug will expand it making the "wedge" even tighter. Two ways to go with heat: A. Heat the plug, then douse it with the squirt bottle to make it contract. B. Heat the aluminum tank around the plug to make it expand. There may be wood, plastic and wiring very close to this area so be ready with the water. Good Luck!!
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Old 02-25-2010, 05:33 PM   #10
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Anode Removed

I hope the picture I'm going to try to attach works cause the erosion of my anode rod was something. Ninety percent of the rod is gone in only three years. Thanks to the advice I got from you all (liquid wrench over a couple days, 1 1/16" socket with breaker bar and a bit of careful torching) I got the anode out. I've ordered a replacement. Don't be fooled by the picture, the factory did put teflon tape on the nut threads. It got burned off as I heated the anode nut with a torch. I will certainly use more tape and finger tighten plus a bit when I replace.

Doing some research on a replacement I ran into aluminum versus magnesium. My original rod was magnesium. You can tell them apart by the bump on the face of the 1 1/16" nut that you unscrew to remove the rod. Flat face = aluminum and bump on face = magnesium. Magnesium should last a little longer, maybe, creates less waste material in the bottom of the heater and aluminum in your water is bad for you. Price seems to be the same so I mag'd it.

When I pulled the anode the residual water in the heater flowed out. Stuck my finger in the anode access hole and felt muddy like white stuff on the bottom. Some came out during the water flow. I'm thinking of a small hose duct taped to the end of my shop vac to suck this gunk out. Any other ideas? I thought about adapting a garden hose to the pressure relief valve opening and flowing water into the heater but forcing the white gunk into the MH hot water pipes or even the fresh water tank might happen.

Having learned from this experience, I'm going to pull the anode rod out of the 7 year old home water heater and see what that guy looks like. Spare the rod and spoil the .......
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