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Old 07-01-2015, 05:05 PM   #1
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Water Heater Drain Plug

I had something happen this week while camping at Long Branch C.O.E. park in Tn., that I have never happen since camping since 1978. I notice water heater was leaking. It was coming from around the plastic drain plug (Atwood WH) so I figured to just screw it out and put some tape around the threads. When I put the wrench to it, the hex head just broke off!! the rest was still in there. Well I figured to get the rest out. I used a small screwdriver and a hacksaw blade. with the saw blade I sawed some slits in the plastic and used the small screwdriver to pry the rest out. But I messed up some of the threads. I got on the pc and looked up what to do and on iRV2 past forums was the answer. I went to Home Depot and bought a 1/2 inch steel plug and a brass 1/2 inch plug. with the steel plug and a 14mm wrench I screwed it in little at a time and would back it out and sprayed WD-40 in the threads and using an old tooth brush and some white vinegar to brush out the threads. a few times of this and the threads were back in good shape!! I could actually screw the plug in by hand almost all the way up. after flushing out with water I put the brass plug in, filled up the tank and no leaks...then I fired it up and when it got hot (after getting air out) still no leaks. So I do believe this is going to be a cure. I like the brass plug because I can take it out or screw it back in with a 14mm wrench. the big hex plastic was always getting messed up. just wanted to say thanks to the guys in the past for this information.
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Old 07-01-2015, 06:35 PM   #2
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Glad you got it taken care of Tom. Ya gotta love the resourceful info available on this forum and the willingness to share it!
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Old 07-01-2015, 08:12 PM   #3
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I always heard not to use anything but the plastic plug because the different metals can cause the plug to freeze in the heater.
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Old 07-02-2015, 04:41 AM   #4
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Heating Man, I had heard that too, but found out from a good source that brass will not do damage to aluminum. but steel will because of rust. And if you notice , most of the by-pass units for winterizing are made of brass where they screw into the tank.
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Old 07-02-2015, 04:48 AM   #5
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Camping world sells two plugs you might be intrested in... both are brassand you should warp them with several layers of teflon tape on a Atwood.

The one I do not recommend has a standard radiator drain petcock in it.. Alas,, it did not last long (The petcock).

The other has a large tube with a silver colored pin through it.. They also sell a tool to open and close it though I made my own out of a length of PVC.

This puppy works well, Drains fast... opens and closes easier and lasts.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:01 AM   #6
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Thanks wa8yxm, I did not wrap this one with Teflon tape even though I have a couple of rolls in my tool box. without the tape it did not leak (so far) I read where the Teflon tape would make a plug easier to remove especially a plastic one. I will try in a couple months to see how easy this brass plug will be to remove. I got the steel plug and the brass plug at Home Depot and for both cost was less then $7.00 the brass plug was about $4.00. I needed the steel one to clean out the threads and worked perfectly. I will look at the one you mentioned when I go to Camping World. Thanks for the info on this.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:19 AM   #7
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Good fix and good info. I'll check into the extension thing in the fall. mine is a real PITA to get at.

WA8YXM - I need to re-look at mine to see the clearances, Do you think the drain thing will fit on my water heater?
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Old 07-02-2015, 10:19 AM   #8
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Waiter21, yours is just like mine and there is not much room between the gas line and the plug. It is actually really hard to get a socket on it. That's why I chose the brass plug where I could take it off with a wrench,
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Old 07-02-2015, 10:19 AM   #9
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I read somewhere that the plastic plug in the Atwood water heaters were part of the safety design. Don't know if true or not. I purchased a socket to fit the plastic plug and have had no problem removing or inserting.
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Old 07-02-2015, 01:40 PM   #10
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just found out this .....The reason for the plastic drain plug in the Atwood is that the aluminum tanks can seize if the wrong plug is used and a steel or galvanized plug will chemically react with the aluminum of the tank. You can use a brass plug and in fact, there are brass plugs available from Atwood for their water heaters. I would not use teflon tape on the nylon plug
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Old 07-02-2015, 01:51 PM   #11
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Yeah, had that happen and went to a dealer. The shop foreman came out with a giant flat screw driver, banged it into the broken plastic plug with his palm, and backed it right out with a crescent wrench.

No charge. Went into their store and bought two new plastic plugs for $1. Been successful removing the plug with an open end wrench for 11 years now. Haven't needed to use the backup plug or use teflon tape, either.

Guess I'm lucky.
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Old 07-04-2015, 10:38 AM   #12
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The plastic plugs work fine. Just don't use pliers or a sloppy fitting wrench, cause that will screw up the hex head after just one or two uses. A six point socket works best, or an open end wrench of the right size. A universal joint socket helps for those units that have the plug set in an awkward place.

Nothing wrong with brass, though. Just be careful not to overtighten or cross-thread, cause even the brass can damage the soft aluminum seat. That's why Atwood recommends the plastic plug.
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Old 07-04-2015, 11:29 PM   #13
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Old 07-05-2015, 08:34 AM   #14
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We used to set them up with brass radiator drain petcocks. No more stripped threads or misplaced plugs, and hassle free draining from that point on. Did this on thousands of coaches (over a period of 20 years), and don't remember ever having one come back on me for anything more than a thank you.
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