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  • Inside electric hot water heater

    What is inside an electric hot water heater? I winterized the hot water heater at camp. I drained the water from the heater and poured in RV antifreeze. I had to pour in four cups of antifreeze before any came out the drain hole. Then only a little came trickling out. Where did the rest of the antifreeze go? I suspected hot water heaters were just big tanks with a couple heating elements sticking into it but that can't be the case.

    I don't have a clue why I did this. The last hot water heater lasted from 1988 until this summer and all I ever did was drain the thing.

    Thanks,
    -Tom

  • #2
    Re: Inside electric hot water heater

    the drain valve is not at the bottom of the heater. it sits on the side an inch or so above.

    is r.v. antifreeze toxic free? can you drink it

    personally, we don't freeze here, but i do a lot of pipe freezing.

    if the heater is pretty much empty. the little water left inside will freeze, but it has room to expand and not cause any damage. the pipes are your main concern.

    next time just blow it out with some air.

    or pour in some cheap vodka. alcohol doesn't freeze to easy
    plus everyone will want to be the first to shower

    rick.
    phoebe it is

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Inside electric hot water heater

      Rick,
      Thank you for the information. The RV anti-freeze is supposed to be non-toxic but I have no inclination to drink any as a test. I did blow out all the water lines and dumped anti-freeze into the sink and shower drains and into the water closet which I let flow into the toilet. I even dumped a little into the small tube in the water closet.

      Thanks again,
      -Tom

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Inside electric hot water heater

        dont take tips from a guy from southern california on how to winterize .the r.v. anti freeze is non toxic make sure you leave all the faucets and drain valves open but put signs up not to turn the water on!
        Mike
        Clark County Plumbing And Drain
        www.plumbinginclarkcounty.com

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Inside electric hot water heater

          You put RV anti freeze in a water heater and it will take a week to get the foam out of the system. It is however, harmless.
          sigpic

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          • #6
            Re: Inside electric hot water heater

            Just flush out water heater by leaving the drain valve on while filling tank, let it run for about five minutes that should get out the antifreeze. Is'nt rubbing alchohol better to use?

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Inside electric hot water heater

              It looks as though I messed up by putting the RV anti-freeze in the hot water tank. I guess I will just have to deal with it in the spring.

              I never heard of alcohol in a water line. We use it in air lines to prevent freeze ups on heavy equipment and on trailers when the brakes won't release.

              Thanks,
              -Tom

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                The RV antifreeze is definitely not toxic - that is the point behind it. I don't think you needed it in the HWH as mentioned above. When I winterize my camper, I use a hose and bypass the heater, before I pump the antifreeze thru the water system. I just drain the water heater and all has been well for 10 years.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                  I use the achohol in toilet bowls and tanks and p-traps. Use an air compressor to blow out water lines.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                    i winterized a wing of about 20 rooms in a hotel a couple of times.

                    i realize an RV is alot smaller but the therory is the same.

                    all i did was drain the water lines using gravity. open every faucet and flush the wc.

                    then i used compressed air. first shut off all the faucets, and turn off the valve for the wc and let the lines pressurize.

                    it takes a little while because you have to dry the lines out. as long as you see a mist, keep drying with the air by opening and closing the faucets. use the velocity of the air to aid this process.

                    i went the extra step of removing all the shut valve bonnets, just in case.

                    i then removed the water from the toilet tank and bowl and put the non-toxic anti-freeze in all the drains.

                    i also put a plastic cap on the vent terminations. this helps prevent trap seal loss through osilation.

                    it worked good come spring when everything was fired up.

                    Vince

                    funny thing about this is an electrician taught me this one

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                      Many Years ago sawdust was added to the throne for winterizing .
                      I can build anything You want , if you draw a picture of it , on the back of a big enough check .

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                        OK I think I am pretty well set for winterizing. Many thanks to everyone for taking the time to help me.

                        But the question remains 'What is inside a hot Water Heater?' After I drained the heater I poured 4 cups of anti-freeze into the cold water, inlet. It seems to me that if the water heater was drained so that water left inside was at the bottom of the drain hole and I added 4 cups of anti-freeze then four cups of something, eg diluted anti-freeze, would have come out. But it didn't. Just a trickle, maybe an eye dropper full, of water came out.

                        Another part of the puzzle is that when I drained the water lines in the camp I opened the hot water faucet and heard a noise coming from the heater. The cold water inlet line was hot so apparently some type of siphon action had started. I opened the blow-off relief valve thinking air entering the heater would stop the siphon, but it continued. There must be some tubes in there and I am curious to find out how they are placed.

                        Unfortunately I have disposed of the old tank or I would cut it open to look inside.

                        Anyone know how these things work?

                        Thanks,
                        Tom

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                          Tom if you had cut it open this is likey what you would have found

                          Click image for larger version

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                          Your water heater is too new to have a large amount of sediment on the bottom so I can't explain why only a few drops of fluid came out. Maybe the drain valve broken? What was the time frame between draining and adding the AF?

                          The noise you heard is normal. The tank is under constant pressure until you turn the water off and when you opened the faucet you released the pressure. The noise was just the tank compressing back to it's normal state. Tanks with a lot of sediment make this noise also.
                          Last edited by plumberscrack; 11-22-2008, 09:54 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                            Crack, I think you solved the mystery with your time frame question. I drained the tank, along with the rest of the system and shut off the heat on a monday. I went back to add anti-freeze to the drains on wednesday evening. In the meantime the temps were in the high teens and low thirtys. There was a skim on ice on the water in the toilet when I returned wednesday evening. The drain valve is a type that is plastic and has a male end that is removable and threads into a female end that is permanently threaded into the tank. The male end has just a small hole in it, I left it open, but I bet there was a small amount of residual water from the sides of the tank that ran down to the drain and because it was so cold it froze around the small orifice in the male end and did not allow the anti-freeze to come out the darin when I poured it in a couple days later. I left a pan beneath the drain because I didn't know what happened and didn't want the anti-freeze to come out later and stain the carpet. I plan to hunt at camp after work mon, tue and wed next week. I bet if I check, the pan will have anti-freeze in it because temps have been above freezing and the small amt of water will have thawed.

                            Many thanks,

                            Tom

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Inside electric hot water heater

                              TAPE THE TOILET SEAT SHUT!!! Or you may have an unwanted surprise when you de-winterize in the spring. Oh, and it helps to write NO USO on the tape.(I speaketh from experience.)
                              "Man will do many things to get himself loved, he will do all things to get himself envied." Mark Twain

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