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Replacing a leaking drain valve on the water heater

Turn off the electricity or gas

Turn off the power to an electric water heater by turning off the appropriate breaker in the home’s electrical panel (breaker box). Then, turn off the gas for a gas water heater by turning the ignition key to the PILOT position. This will not ignite the burners, but the pilot will stay on, so you don’t have to restart it later. Allow the water heater to cool for several hours before draining the tank and replacing the drain valve.

Turn off the water supply

Close the valve on the cold water supply line leading to the water heater. There should be a valve on the line near the top of the boiler. Alternatively, you can turn off the main water supply valve to your home.

Drain the tank

Connect a garden hose to the water heater drain valve and run the hose to a nearby floor drain or outdoors. Open the temperature and pressure relief valve on the side or top of the tank by tilting the lever to the open position. This will allow air into the tank to prevent suction, which would interfere with draining. Some valves have handles, others have a slotted stem that you turn with a slotted screwdriver. Be careful when draining the tank as the water may still be quite hot.

Remove the old drain valve

Pull the hose off the drain valve. Remove the drain valve from the tank by turning it counterclockwise with a large adjustable wrench, pipe wrench, or pliers.

Install the new drain valve

Wrap the threads of the new valve with tape and screw it into the drain hole of the tank by hand. Tighten the valve with a wrench and stop when the valve outlet is facing down, in the same position as the old valve. Make sure the valve is fully closed by turning the handle fully clockwise.

Fill the water heater

Open the hot water tap on any faucet in the house. Open the valve on the cold water supply line to fill the water heater tank. When water flows from the faucet, the tank is full and you can close the faucet.

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