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Old 06-22-2022, 10:04 PM   #1
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How do I drain my hot water tank between trips?

I usually use my camper about once per month. I typically drain all of the water out of the fresh water tank between trips and put fresh water in before departing. Does anyone have a good way for me to empty the hot water tank? I COULD take the anode out but its not really designed for frequent removal. I thought I once saw an anode with a built in drain tap but haven't be able to locate one. Does anyone have any suggestions?
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Old 06-22-2022, 10:13 PM   #2
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Old 06-22-2022, 10:47 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by bjaspud View Post
I usually use my camper about once per month. I typically drain all of the water out of the fresh water tank between trips and put fresh water in before departing. Does anyone have a good way for me to empty the hot water tank? I COULD take the anode out but its not really designed for frequent removal. I thought I once saw an anode with a built in drain tap but haven't be able to locate one. Does anyone have any suggestions?
I have a socket in the trailer tool kit and just take the rod out for inspection and drain. I'm not really sure what "designed for frequent removal" means, but unless you mess up the thread in the tank I can't see where frequent removal and install would be problematic. Have not done this 12 per year, but a good 6 to 8 each year. Teflon tape and it's good to go.

Though about the drain in the past and it does appear somewhat easier, but it's now an automatic part of our routine to remove the anode. On a funny note, the original anode was toast before the first year was up. The one in now has been good for 2 years. We did camp a great deal more in the first year using many different water sources. The last two years it's mostly been water from our house.
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Old 06-23-2022, 05:53 AM   #4
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We only drain our tank once a year. But the only way to drain that will not cause issues is to pull the anode rod. Be sure that the water is not hot first.


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Old 06-23-2022, 07:05 AM   #5
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Be sure that the water is not hot first.

:
Or pressurized. That anode rod can be a missile if you forget to relieve the pressure first. Ask me how I know this. Lol
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Old 06-23-2022, 07:13 AM   #6
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Or pressurized. That anode rod can be a missile if you forget to relieve the pressure first. Ask me how I know this. Lol
One of mine ended up in the neighbour’s yard……on the other side of the street.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:15 PM   #7
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There are anodes with built in drains: https://www.google.com/search?q=rv+w...hrome&ie=UTF-8
Google is your friend.

Getting to the real question:
The only problem with frequent removal of the anode/plug is the possibility of cross threading the connection...which will ruin the threads on the tank. Anodes are cheap and easily replaced, but tanks are expensive.

There is a trick for avoiding cross threading...a bit harder with a heavy anode rod sticking out of the plug, but all the more important.

When installing the plug, TURN THE PLUG BACKWARDS - lefty loosey - until you feel the threads subtly settle in (seat) as the leading edge of both the male and female threads pass each other and the plug nestles into the socket. Then turn in the tightening direction. Done properly, this method guarantees the threads are properly aligned to prevent cross threading (unless the threads are already buggered).

With my anode/plug, I used two hands. I'm right handed. My left index finger pushed in hard on the end of the plug to overcome the weight of the anode. I used my right hand to rotate the plug until it seated and I got it started a turn or two. Tight quarters in my hot water heater made this easier said than done, but I never had a problem.

Don't put crud on the threads...teflon tape or plumber's thread compound. This makes seating properly more difficult, and a tiny "weep" from the threads won't hurt anything. Everthing in there is water safe. Hell, the cabinet door is open to the elements.

This technique works on ALL nuts and bolts of any type, but it's especially useful on large diameter nuts and bolts or large pipe fittings.

Lastly, if your tank's threads ever do get buggered, use a large "tap" to "chase" the existing threads and get them straightened out. Same technique. Attempt to seat the tap properly prior to tightening/cutting, so all you do is clean up the existing threads and cut away the cross threading. This link to a tap is just an illustration. The correct size and thread pitch must be determined by using the anode/plug as your model. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Drill-Am...8-14/305700653 (NOTE: "chasing" the threads with a tap should be easy...barely requiring any pressure on the tap. If it takes a lot of effort to turn the tap, you're cutting new threads and ruining the fitting.)

Lastly, I agree with others that your fastidiousness is overkill. Draining the tank after every use is unnecessary. Bear in mind that this is hot water. You are not likely to drink it, and the first time you do dishes, you'll use it up after reheating it. Furthermore, you could fill your fresh tank or connect to city water and just flush it out prior to your next trip. (Use the outdoor shower to avoid filling your grey tank.) But draining or not is your call, and just removing and replacing the anode/plug monthly is no cause for concern.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:15 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Oaklevel View Post
We only drain our tank once a year. But the only way to drain that will not cause issues is to pull the anode rod. Be sure that the water is not hot first.



X2 Once a year in all that is necessary..
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:50 PM   #9
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Draining the HW tank

We drain when we winterize. The rest of the time it is full of water. Thus we check/replace the anode once per year. After draining, I always put the anode back in place and tight as it should be. That keeps the critters out of the tank.

I do use a bit of Loctite Anti cease compound on the threads. No tape or plumbers dope is needed. We do carry the correct size socket and extension in our toolbox.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:55 PM   #10
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I open the low point drains and the sink faucet. Don't know if this completely empties the hot water tank but there can't be much water left in it.
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Old 06-23-2022, 12:59 PM   #11
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I open the low point drains and the sink faucet. Don't know if this completely empties the hot water tank but there can't be much water left in it.
That's a good way to get the crud from the water heater stuck in your lines. And it would still leave quite a bit of water in there.

Pulling the anode is still the best way to drain it.
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Old 06-23-2022, 01:37 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by bjaspud View Post
I usually use my camper about once per month. I typically drain all of the water out of the fresh water tank between trips and put fresh water in before departing. Does anyone have a good way for me to empty the hot water tank? I COULD take the anode out but its not really designed for frequent removal. I thought I once saw an anode with a built in drain tap but haven't be able to locate one. Does anyone have any suggestions?
That is a great device that Navy LCDR posted the link but if you don't have time to get one just take out the anode rod with a 1 1/16 socket. Make sure to let the tank cool and open a hot water sink to relieve the pressure or you will wear the hot water.
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Old 06-23-2022, 02:20 PM   #13
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Draining by removing the anode is the best way.
While those anode rods with the petcock are ok for getting rid of some water, a good bit still remains in the tank and then folks get lazy when winterizing and never remove the anode nor flush the tank like you really should.

Do not use the low point drains (as mentioned) to remove water from the water heater.
IT WILL suck crud from the tank into the plumbing where some of it remains and then clogs stuff up on repressurization. (most often the toilet valve)

Here's a photo looking in the anode bung of a Suburban water heater. You can see just how low the cold inlet mix tube is to the bottom. It will siphon crud.

With that said, we drain ours when we winterize. It stays full all camping season.
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Old 06-23-2022, 05:24 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmoore13 View Post
There are anodes with built in drains: https://www.google.com/search?q=rv+w...hrome&ie=UTF-8
Google is your friend.

Getting to the real question:
The only problem with frequent removal of the anode/plug is the possibility of cross threading the connection...which will ruin the threads on the tank. Anodes are cheap and easily replaced, but tanks are expensive.

There is a trick for avoiding cross threading...a bit harder with a heavy anode rod sticking out of the plug, but all the more important.

When installing the plug, TURN THE PLUG BACKWARDS - lefty loosey - until you feel the threads subtly settle in (seat) as the leading edge of both the male and female threads pass each other and the plug nestles into the socket. Then turn in the tightening direction. Done properly, this method guarantees the threads are properly aligned to prevent cross threading (unless the threads are already buggered).

With my anode/plug, I used two hands. I'm right handed. My left index finger pushed in hard on the end of the plug to overcome the weight of the anode. I used my right hand to rotate the plug until it seated and I got it started a turn or two. Tight quarters in my hot water heater made this easier said than done, but I never had a problem.

Don't put crud on the threads...teflon tape or plumber's thread compound. This makes seating properly more difficult, and a tiny "weep" from the threads won't hurt anything. Everthing in there is water safe. Hell, the cabinet door is open to the elements.

This technique works on ALL nuts and bolts of any type, but it's especially useful on large diameter nuts and bolts or large pipe fittings.

Lastly, if your tank's threads ever do get buggered, use a large "tap" to "chase" the existing threads and get them straightened out. Same technique. Attempt to seat the tap properly prior to tightening/cutting, so all you do is clean up the existing threads and cut away the cross threading. This link to a tap is just an illustration. The correct size and thread pitch must be determined by using the anode/plug as your model. https://www.homedepot.com/p/Drill-Am...8-14/305700653 (NOTE: "chasing" the threads with a tap should be easy...barely requiring any pressure on the tap. If it takes a lot of effort to turn the tap, you're cutting new threads and ruining the fitting.)

Lastly, I agree with others that your fastidiousness is overkill. Draining the tank after every use is unnecessary. Bear in mind that this is hot water. You are not likely to drink it, and the first time you do dishes, you'll use it up after reheating it. Furthermore, you could fill your fresh tank or connect to city water and just flush it out prior to your next trip. (Use the outdoor shower to avoid filling your grey tank.) But draining or not is your call, and just removing and replacing the anode/plug monthly is no cause for concern.

I've never drained mine because we don't have freezing temps here.

That same method to prevent cross threading should be used on the plastic cord nut. Every time I put the cord on I think about how many people must cross thread that plastic nut. Takes very little strength to cross thread those.
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Old 06-23-2022, 05:34 PM   #15
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I didn't drain the HW tank once between trips that were two weeks apart. The water source for the first trip was well water. On the second trip I ran the hot water and got a nasty sulfur smell and blackish water.
I think if you have a low point drain for the hot water side of the system and open it along with open all the faucets it will drain the HW tank.
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Old 06-23-2022, 06:00 PM   #16
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I didn't drain the HW tank once between trips that were two weeks apart. The water source for the first trip was well water. On the second trip I ran the hot water and got a nasty sulfur smell and blackish water.
I think if you have a low point drain for the hot water side of the system and open it along with open all the faucets it will drain the HW tank.

See posts #11 and #13 for why that's not a good idea.
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Old 06-23-2022, 06:18 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I open the low point drains and the sink faucet. Don't know if this completely empties the hot water tank but there can't be much water left in it.
That's a good way to get the crud from the water heater stuck in your lines. And it would still leave quite a bit of water in there.

Pulling the anode is still the best way to drain it.
Several comments here.

Yes, pulling the anode rod is the only way to get all the water out of the tank. However, when I winterize I open the low point drains and faucets first. I put a 5 gallon bucket under them. It will eventually overflow the bucket. So the low points will get much of the water out of the hot tank. And since you really don't need to drain between trips the gallon or so left won't matter much.

Why would opening the drains cause crud to get into the lines? Versus turning on the faucets in the trailer which would shoot pressurized water into the tank stirring up all the crud in there. Like those who say never let your gas tank go below 1/2 full because you'll suck up the crud on the bottom of the tank. Nevermind your gas tank is bouncing down a road every day. And the fuel pick is always on the bottom

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Old 06-23-2022, 09:47 PM   #18
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^^^I agree. I too open the low point drains after each trip along with a faucet or two.
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Old 06-23-2022, 10:40 PM   #19
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Opening the low point drains without first putting your water heater valves into bypass mode can draw crud from the bottom of your hot water tank into the rest of the plumbing. That crud will then get pushed into valves and aerators.

For those who only drain their hot water tank once a year, I hope you’re circulating water through your water heater regularly. I know you’ll say “we don’t drink the water” but if you leave a jug of water in a hot room for a week or a month would you use that water to wash with?
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Old 06-23-2022, 11:31 PM   #20
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Opening the low point drains without first putting your water heater valves into bypass mode can draw crud from the bottom of your hot water tank into the rest of the plumbing. That crud will then get pushed into valves and aerators.
?
I get what your saying but running any water through the water heater will push crud through your system. If the crud is loose enough to get sucked out the cold water line when using the low point drains it should also be running out the hot water line when in use.

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