how to remove old drain valve?

Hi all,
since my basement is currently a mess due to last Friday's incident with my water heater's T&P valve, I figured I'd go ahead and do some plumbing maintenance before final clean-up. First order of business; replace the drain valves on the two water heaters in the basement, since one of them wouldn't shut all the way (has had a garden hose cap on it since my ill-advised attempt to drain the gravel out of it) and the other's handle was busted off. I got the first one out easily, and had a "replacement" already made up and ready to jam in (dielectric nipple, 3/4" ball valve, 3/4" to garden hose fitting) I didn't make too much of a mess. OK, one down, one to go. The second is on the gas heater, and it's conveniently located between the gas control and the floor, so there's no room to get any tools in there. Unfortunately when draining this heater (opened valve with water pump pliers) I found that now this valve too has gravel stuck in it, so *it* is currently capped off. There's only one angle at which I can get a pipe wrench on this valve, and when I try to unscrew it from the tank, it starts loosening my garden hose cap as well as the packing nut on the spigot, without budging the valve itself at all.
Any ideas of another tool I could possibly use to unscrew this valve? or should I just have my friend weld me something up on an old socket? I really want to replace it so I can move on to the next order of business, examining the anode so that I can determine whether it's worth buying a new anode or simply time for replacement tank. I'm sure there is something that will work, but I'm a little damp and frustrated at the moment so I'm not coming up with any good ideas.
I highly recommend the ball valve replacement for the drain valve BTW. You wouldn't believe all the gravel I got out of the first water heater, and I flushed it (through the little plastic valve) less than a year ago. There were chunks coming out that would never have fit through the little plastic valve. I'm sure if I could do the same treatment to the gas heater I'd have much more efficient heating of my water... (got the idea from http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/ thanks to a link posted here)
please help, I dream of a day where I can do an annual flush of my water heaters without "special instructions" and a minor flood in the basement :)
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
How does the gravel get in your water heater? Have you considered a whole house water filter?
I have gravel in my cottage water heater also. The heater is 22 years old and I assume the gravel predates when filters were first put on it.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Toller wrote:

I'm assuming it's just minerals in the water precipitating out, but I've never put much thought into it. Just moved into this house a year ago, so who knows if the heaters were ever flushed before I moved in? Anyway it's easy enough (with good valves) to let a couple gallons out through a hose once a year.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I have actual gravel in mine. Okay, maybe it is just really really big sand, but still...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
I would suggest that once you are in that situation, I would just seal the drain valve as best I could and leave it alone. In most situations it is already too late to do much good by regular draining.
The replacement heaters should be better quality and come with ball valves or if not, put them on before you turn on the water the first time.
If you are going to try and replace what you have, remember that you could do more damage than good and not be able to get the new one installed.
My method has been to turn off the heat and make sure the water is not much more than warm when I start. Next shut off the water inlet and outlet. Now, with luck you can unscrew the existing valve and then quickly screw in the new valve you have already removed from the box and readied to screw in. Note: This method might not be the best idea if you are in a finished basement surrounded with materials that could be damaged if they get we.
Good Luck.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Joseph Meehan wrote:

I'm four for four so far... (T&P valve on gas heater, drain valves on solar heater and electric heater in garage, and pulled anode in garage heater for inspection) so I'm feeling froggy. Of course, the heater in the garage is only a year old, I was replacing the drain valve on that and looking at the anode (and reinstalling it with pipe dope so it stays free) to hopefully prevent the problem I'm having with the other two. Speaking of which, I was really impressed - it's a small State water heater and it appears that the top of the anode is stainless steel! Nice touch. Wonder why the tanks aren't typically made of stainless... or are they, and they just rust anyway? I haven't seen a single HWH tank that comes with a ball type drain valve as standard equipment, am I not shopping at high class enough stores?

Well, see, that's part of the problem. there are no valves on the outlet sides of any of the water heaters except for the garage (because I made the guy that installed it put one in.) So if I want to do ANYTHING to these heaters, I have no way to drain them down enough to mess with the anode or T&P valve other than opening the T&P valves themselves (and I have to drain the whole house down, although that wasn't a bad thing this time around, as I assume that I've now restored the function of all the air columns,) and the T&P valves aren't properly plumbed at this time. So I'd like to have functional drain valves so at a minimum I can drain the system down again (without creating another mess,) put ball valves on the outlets of the heaters, and also an emergency bypass around both the solar heater and gas heater (so I can run off one or the other only if one of them develops an issue.)

Nope, just ugly vinyl peel 'n' stick tile that needs to come up anyway. That's basically how I handled the solar heater and it worked out fine. Had a towel on the floor to catch most of the mess and cleaned up the rest with a shop vac. If I could only break this other valve loose...
Just got an idea, maybe I could use a ball joint pickle fork and a pipe wrench to catch this valve - it's one of those brass spigot deals with the spigot and hose connection both 45 degrees off the axis of the inlet. I tried my tie rod pickle fork and it is too small... can't try it now though as the ball joint one is at my friend's garage...

thanks, I'll need it I'm sure.
Worst case, I'll have to get a new water heater, which wouldn't be the end of the world, I was just hoping to avoid the expense.
nate

--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

Why not check the anode first. If you might replace the tank, why bother with the valve now. The garden hose cap should be fine for awhile, and probably for the remaining life of the tank. You could also connect a hose and drain it more so the gravel comes out. Then try to replace the washer in the valve.
Why do you have 2 water heaters anyhow?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@notmail.com wrote:

'cause I can't drain down the tank! :)

It's just work, and I can always salvage it from the tank if it goes to the scrapper. I also would like to add valves so I can isolate/bypass either water heater, and I can't do that without draining the tanks, which I can't easily do without working valves.

One is solar, and feeds the other (gas.)
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I would super insulatre the solar one!
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.