Don't let your water heater get the best of you !

Water heater

by W.D. Plumbing
Ca.Lic.# 480928
Santa Cruz,Ca. (831)4761222 (831)6881121

Water Heater Leaking from the Bottom
Water Heater Will Not Drain
Pilot Light Gone Out
Smelly And Rusty Water

Water Heater Leaking From The Bottom?

Before turning off water to water heater try to locate the source of the leak(it may not be the water heater leaking).

To attempt to locate the source of the leak first check the top of the water heater. If the top of the water heater is wet, check the water lines leading from the wall to the top of the water heater. There will be two water lines. The line on the left is the hot water line. The line on the right is the cold water line.

If water is leaking from hot or cold water lines your water heater should be okay. If the water heater is dry on the top, check the hose bib(place where hose can be hooked up)at the bottom side of water heater. If the hose bib is dry the water heater needs replaced. Before turning water off to a gas water heater. TURN OFF THE GAS. To turn off the gas. On left of water heater(usually on left)is a flexible gas supply. Follow the gas supply back to gas shut off. Turn The lever on the gas shut off 1/4 turn. The gas is now off.

Before turning off the water to an electric water heater you must turn off the circuit breaker to water heater. To turn off the water to the water heater.Locate the cold water line at the top right of the water heater. Follow the cold water line from the water heater toward the wall. There should be a gate valve on that line. Turn the handle on the gate valve clock wise until it stops. If the gate valve is stuck open or there isn't one.

The entire water system to the house will need to be shut off. To shut off the entire water system check for the gate valve at front of house. The gate valve has a round handle. Turn the handle clock wise until it stops. If gate valve is stuck or there isn't one you will need to call the local water company to shut off the water at the water meter.

The next step is to drain the water heater. You will need a garden hose and adjustable pliers. At the bottom front of the water heater there is a hose bib(place to hook up garden hose). Stretch the garden hose out making sure there are no kinks in it. Screw the garden hose on to the hose bib. The garden hose must be lower than the hose bib to function properly. To open the hose bib. Turn the handle(if there is one) counter clockwise until it stops. This will be a few turns. If your hose bib does not have a handle and is a round plastic fixture. Grab the fixture and turn it counter clockwise a few turns. There will not be much water draining through the garden hose if any. You will need to displace the water with air.

To do this, find the closest fixture(kitchen sink faucet, bathroom sink faucet, or tub/shower faucet). Open the hot side only. This will allow air into the water heater and cause it to drain. If the water heater does not start draining. Close the faucet at whatever sink you turned on. Turn the water back on to the water heater (the valve above the water heater). Be sure to turn it all the way on, you need the pressure. Now water should be draining from the garden hose rapidly. What you are doing is clearing the hose bib of sediment so it will drain. Continue to drain in this fashion for a few minutes. Shut the water off at the water heater and open whichever hot water you opened earlier. The water heater should be draining .It may be slow, just let it drain.

Water Heater Will Not Drain?

You must wear goggles, thick gloves, and protective clothing while doing this repair!

Tools you will need:

1- 14" pipe wrench

1 pair 12" adjustable pliers

1- 10" screw driver(optional)

1- 3/4 x 5" galvanized nipple

1-3/4" fip x male hose adpt.

1-low top bucket

Screw the hose adapter onto the the galvanized nipple and have the bucket ready to catch any water that starts running out of the water heater.

After following the instructions outlined above and the water heater does not drain. Close the hot water faucet you opened earlier. Remove the garden hose from the hose bib. Carefully remove the hose bib from the water heater. There are several different types of hose bibs on water heaters. If your water heater has a round plastic hose bib. Turn the hose bib counter clockwise until it comes off. You may have to pull on the hose bib to get to get it out. Be careful. There is going to be hot water in the water heater. Water will be slowly running out of the water heater into the bucket. After removing the round plastic hose bib, there will be a pipe nipple still in the water heater. Using your pipe wrench. Remove the nipple by turning it counter clockwise. As soon as you remove the pipe nipple from the water heater. Replace it with the nipple you have put the hose adapter on. attach the hose to the adapterand open the hot side of the closest faucet and let it drain.

If your water heater has a hose bib that has a knob on top. Just remove the hose bib with your pipe wrench and replace with the galvanized nipple with adapter. Follow instructions outlined above.

Has your pilot light gone out?

Normally your water heater will have lighting instructions on the front of it. Sometimes the instructions get worn off the water heater making them difficult if not impossible to read.

To light pilot first turn the knob on the front of the gas valve clockwise until it stops.Then turn the knob on top of the gas valve to "off" position for 5 minutes. This gives the gas valve a chance to reset. While waiting, take the metal cover at the lower front of the water heater off. There will be another metal cover. Remove it. You will see three lines going into the burner area. The one one the right is the pilot tubing. Follow that tube into the burner area until you see the pilot assembly. Now you know where to light the pilot when you are ready. After 5 min. turn the same knob to the "pilot"position and push down. While pushing down on the knob, (using a long match or striker)reach into the burner area to the pilot assembly and light the pilot. Continue holding the button down for 60 seconds then release it. The pilot should stay lit.

Turn the knob on top of the gas valve to the "on" position. Put the metal covers back on the water heater. Turn the knob on the front of the gas valve to it's original position or close to it. If the water is cold in the water heater the burners should be on.

Is there the smell of sulfer and or rust in your water?

Complaints of smelly and rusty water are frequent in the heating industry. Waterborne bacateria that flourish in a warm environment such as a water heater, hot water storage tank, or connected to plumbing, cause these conditions.


The most common cause of smelly water is non-toxic sulfate reducing bacteria called Divibrio Sulfericans. These bacteria convert sulfates into sulfides that when mixed with hydrogen create Hydrogen Sulfide Gas. The associated "rotten egg" odor may be quite strong.

Along with the sulfer bacteria, required elements are high concentrations of sulfates, active hydrogen, and water with little or no dissolved oxygen. Sulfades provide the food for the bacteria. Hydrogen is already present in the water, and can be enhanced by the water heater anode rod. Permanent removal of the anode rod is not an acceptable solution, since that would leave the water heater without it's second line of defense against corrosion, and will void tank warranty. Examples of water heating systems often low on dissolved oxygen are long standby periods, and municipal water systems with large reserves and low flow conditions.


Water heaters and storage tanks are often blamed for rusty or discolored water. In fact, it is very unusual for today's high quality glass lined tanks to have a lining failure significant enough to allow water to contact enough bare metal to discolor the contents of even a small tank.

The most common cause of rusty water is iron reducing bacteria called Leptothrix. Iron bacteria are commonly found in soil, water wells, water treatment plants and water distribution piping systems where soluble iron exceeds 0.2 parts per million. Higher levels make conditions even more favorable. Soluble iron in the water provides food for the bacteria. Rusty or discolored water is the result of a bacterial feeding process. Laundry, tableware, and plumbing fixtures can be stained if the condition is left unchecked. The affected water can be red or brown, and may have a black sediment.

Heaters and tanks with iron bacteria usually require new anode rods as presence of iron bacteria causes premature anode failure.


Chlorinate the water heater or tank. Heaters and tanks with extended iron bacteria infestation may require more than one treatment. A chlorine feeder may be the only permanent solution to repeated iron or sulfur bacteria infestation.


1. Turn off gas or electric supply to water heater.

2. Turn off cold water supply valve to water heater or tank.

3. Open a nearby hot water faucet to allow air into the system. This will break the vacuum and allow the heater or tank to drain.

4. Drain all water from heater or tank. (A hose attached to the drain valve may be needed to direct water to a nearby drain.)

5. Remove anode rod(s) and close drain valve.

6. Using a funnel placed in the anode rod opening pour in one gallon of household chorine bleach (i.e., Clorox or Purex) for every 25 gallons of tank capacity. Note: For commercial systems using large diameter pipe and long hot water loops, estimate water volume and add additional chlorine at the same one gallon to 25 gallons ratio.

7. Reinstall anode rod(s) after inspecting and replacing as needed.

8. Open cold water supply valve and refill system with water. Draw chlorine soution into hot water system piping by bleeding water at each faucet just until the chlorine solution can be smelled. Operate dishwashers and clotheswashers just until chlorine is smelled in those appliances. It is important to chlorinate all hot water lines.

9. Leave chlorine solution undisturbed in the hot water heating system one hour or more.

10. After contact time has been allowed, drain chlorine solution in tank according to steps #2, #3, and #4. Continue to flush tank if water is discolored or has chlorine odor.

11. Close drain valve and refill tank. Allow tank to sit for 15 minutes. Repeat step #2, #3, and #4. Continue to flush tank if water is discolored or has chlorine odor.

12. Close drain valve and refill tank. Flush all chlorine from piping by running hot water faucets until no chlorine odor is detected. Operate dishwashers and clotheswashers empty for one complete cycle.

13. Return hot water heating system to duty by following recommended start-up procedure posted on heater or in service manual.

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