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Old 05-13-2009, 05:49 PM   #1
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Water heater drain plug

I have a 6 gallon Atwood water heater on a Class C 4 Winds Chateau and would like to know what tools/devices should be used to remove the drain plug. The plug itself is plastic, appears to be 7/8 inch and is sealed with putty of some type. The major obstacle is the LP gas line which runs directly in front of the plug itself. Standard socket wrenches aren't an option as a result. I believe this arrangement is original factory installation, hopefully the solution is straightforward. Many thanks in advance.
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Old 05-13-2009, 06:56 PM   #2
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Removing the water heater drain plug....

In most Atwood 6-gal RV water heaters, the drain plug is a formed 1/2" pipe plug made of nylon & usually sealed with some teflon tape or pipe dope. The body of the water heated is made of aluminum, & to prevent unwanted galvanic action between dissimilar metals, a plastic plug is used.

Now, depending on the agility & strength of the OE assembly gorilla, this soft nylon plug may be "cranked" into the pipe thread, or, more gently installed so that some threads are still showing.....

Removal is easily accomplished with a small open end wrench [maybe 21mm] or a small adjustable wrench inserted CAREFULLY behind the gas line & turned cc in 1/8 turn steps. After a while the plug will be loose enough to remove completely with your fingers. Just be careful: do it when the water heater is cold & step aside when the plug comes out -- followed by ~ 6-gallons of water. Once removed you can clean the plug & inspect the threads for excessive wear. Now's the time to be thinking of getting a replacement [they're only ~$0.50], not after the old one breaks off in the water heater tank.....!
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:02 PM   #3
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My plastic drain plug is in the same location as yours and I found that a flex head basin wrench works great. The head tilts and angles around the gas line and the long handle applies enough torque just be careful that you do not break off the head of the nylon plug. If you do which happens quite frequently then go and get an "easy out" stud removal tool and drill into the center of the plug and use the easy out to remove the plug. The easy out is threaded left hand so as it tightens the plug loosens. Now ask me how I know how to remove a broken plug.
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Old 05-14-2009, 05:54 PM   #4
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You have gotten great info above. We have all been through what you are encountering. I'll just suggest that you carry a spare plug in case you ever need one. I have twice given my spare to a fellow camper, for which they have been very
thankful.
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Old 05-16-2009, 12:54 AM   #5
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Sometime in the past, someone put a galvanized steel plug into our aluminum water heater!! It is still there and will probably remain until it is all melted for scrap. Don't do that, buy a plastic or nylon plug for your heater. I'm open to any suggestions that will work for removal, real life only, no theories!!! Thanks, Harvey
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:32 AM   #6
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Wrench

The plug size is 15/16". Try a opened end, box wrench combo works great and fits around the gas pipe.
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Old 05-19-2009, 09:48 AM   #7
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Have you tried to break the Galvanized Plug loose while the tank is HOT? The aluminum may expand faster? Also, make sure you just "break it loose" if you do it, for obvious reasons! flagelpater
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Old 06-02-2009, 07:38 PM   #8
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I used the wheel lug nut wrench to put mine on but will look at a plumbers under sink wrench to remove. Isn't that aluminum part supposed to have a calcium build up "magnet" so the calcium doesn't build up inside?
I was wondering what size it was , Thanks.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:26 PM   #9
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"The plug size is 15/16". Try a opened end, box wrench combo works great and fits around the gas pipe."

The hex on the original plug in the Atwood water heater (in our 01 Adventurer) was 7/8". Over the years I have purchased several replacements and all except the last set were also 7/8". The latest ones however are 15/16". So the size of the hex could vary depending on whether you get some that have been in inventory for a while, or some that are factory fresh.

I use the box end of either a 7/8" or 15/16" combination wrench depending on which size plugs I happen to get. I also wrap the new plug with teflon tape before installing it. In 8 years we've never had one leak or get so tight it was difficult to remove.
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Old 06-02-2009, 08:31 PM   #10
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I have striped more than one plug so I decided to fix the situation once and for all. I used a plastic threaded nipple aprox 2" long and threaded it into the drain hole. Then I used a short SS braided water supply line and gate valve that you would use on your sink at home. I can now drain my tank with just a simple twist of the valve.
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Old 06-03-2009, 08:57 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HarveyP View Post
Sometime in the past, someone put a galvanized steel plug into our aluminum water heater!! It is still there and will probably remain until it is all melted for scrap. Don't do that, buy a plastic or nylon plug for your heater. I'm open to any suggestions that will work for removal, real life only, no theories!!! Thanks, Harvey
I have had a lot of luck in the past by heating just the plug and let it cool on it's own then tighten slightly befor tring to remove the plug. This expands the tank treads a small amount and removes the deposits on the inside of the plug. If it starts to get tight while removing stop and put some penetrating oil on the threads and work it in and out a little. It will come out if you take your time.
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Old 06-03-2009, 05:36 PM   #12
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that would make a lot of sense, very good. Thanks will try.
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Old 06-18-2009, 08:52 PM   #13
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I had a "Hot Rod" put into the drain hole on my Atwood in my Cambria.( Now you think you have tight quarters to work in). I have to take the gas line loose to get the Hot Rod out to drain the heater. Needless to say it will not get drained as often as it used to.
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Old 06-28-2009, 10:28 PM   #14
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I found that a 8-point socket will fit over the end of the plug....just under that LP line. Not sure exactly what size though, but I was able to get it lose. I've also got a metal (believe it's bronze) and found that I couldn't replace it with they nylon one...probably a different size...or at least it wanted to cross-thread the nylon!

Teflon tape and the bronze fitting are working fine.....and not too tight!!

I've heard, if you break the nylon plug.....get a screw flat blade screw driver, and heat it with a torch (red hot) and then push it into the nylon plug....let it cool, and then turn it out. It would probably work best if you have a square shank screwdriver, so you can put a wrench to it, if needed.

Good Luck
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