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Plastic water heater plug

17977 Views 16 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  bigfish3
I drained my water heater tank last fall. I removed the plastic plug, no problem then. When I replaced the plug a couple days ago I stripped the plug trying to get it to stop leaking. My question is; was I supposed to use teflon tape? (I did). Metal treads on tank, plastic threads on plug. It looked like the previous owner had used a pipe dope or sealer or something. I put the new plug in today & it's got a small steady leak. I didn't want to over tighten & strip the plug again. Does anyone have experience with this kinda problem. I didn't use the tape this time. Van:shrug:
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You shouldn't use teflon tape if it is a plastic fitting. I don't recall why, but every plumber I know has said this. The only time you want to use teflon tape is when it's metal to metal. Teflon tape was invented to not be as messy as before when there was only "pipe dope" which is still available today.

I recommend you remove the plug and check the threads, it they look good you can apply pipe dope on plastic to metal fittings. Make sure the pipe dope is applied completely and evenly but not too thick and not too close to the inside edges of the threads (you don't really want this stuff in the tank). Or you can use food-grade pipe dope and not worry about it.

I hope this solve your leak. I hate plumbing. It always seem to leak no matter what, but keep tightening a little at a time until the leak stops.
Why dont you put a brass petcock in instead of the plug , then you can just open the petcock up to drain no need to remove . Any auto store, or hardware store will have these then put teflon tape on petcock and install should take care of your leak.
The petcock i used had a tube made on it was able to slide a pice of tubing on it about 6'' on then you can drain away from heater on ground no mess hope this helps
There are three goals when draining a tank:

1. Remove all water for long term storage to prevent "stinky" water or for winterizing.
2. Flush the tank. Even with the best filtration systems for the water supply calcium deposits will seem to form. I don't know if an additional (portable) water softener in addition to the filters will solve this, but I don't have one and I find calcium deposits in my RV's water heater. I use a WH wand to clean out the tank.
3. Check the condition of anode rod, if equipped. The anode rod collects all the impurities to protect the WH walls and it will eventually corrode. As this happens the corroded material drops to the bottom of the tank which is why if you wonder where the parts of the anode fall off, where do they go? The bottom of the tank.

Using a petcock only helps with #1. If you want to use a petcock you'll still need to perform items #2 & #3. Since I went to the trouble of getting the tools, I remove the plug/anode to drain the tank (don't forget to step to the side) and flush it out with one of those wands. Then I replace the plug and next trip DON'T forget to wait until the hot water tank fills up before turning on the heat.

If you use a petcock, the extension tube to the ground would help and eliminate the mess (and slow the draining down). Since I don't use this, I use a couple of 5 gallon buckets (on a furniture dolly) to drain into. There's still a mess but I catch most water, then put that water on the plants. I put both buckets on the dolly to make it easier to switch the buckets after the first one fills up.
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Yeah why does it have a plastic plug instead of a anode rod? almost all of the camper water heaters ive seen have them instead of just a plug.

You answered your own question that "almost", not ALL water heaters have a metal anode rod. There are some brands that use a plastic plug - I forget the brand but they like to advertise they have no Anode rod to worry about as their attraction to having that unit. But the drawback is that the plug is too soft. It's all about what's your preference to worry about or maintain.
Plastic Plug

Bought the camper used, that's what it had in it when I bought it. I put a brass plug in with teflon to stop the leak, I'm going to change to the anode later. I couldn't understand why it had the plastic plug either, It flexs when you try to tighten it. :thumbup1:
Ah, it may have been a cheap emergency fix by the prior owner. I'd check the manufacturer model on the internet just to see if a plastic one installed originally. Your brass one should serve you well unless it was supposed to have an anode, too.

Is there an anode located somewhere else, or do you think that the plug should also have the anode, too? If it's a Suburban brand, there are known to use plug/anode combinations. Not using an anode when it's supposed to will shorten the life of your water heater especially when different water sources are used. Just curious about your unit.
plastic plug

It's a 2004 Fleetwood. You could be right about the anode. I'll check and see if the manual tells me anything.:shrug:
I remember now.... the Atwood may not have the plug/anode combination. I don't know what the plug is made of and I don't know if or how it tries to prevent water heater tank corrosion. With my Suburban water heater and the amount of corrosion I see on the anode, I can't help but imagine it's doing it's job and the water heater will last longer because of it. I kinda like this feature but requires some maintenance. One of these days I'll have to look up the Atwoods and see if whatever they do is better or not.

It is a atwood & the manual don't mention anything about it.
Most Atwoods I know of don't have anodes and doing a search for replacement parts uses a plastic plug. I only say most because I have not researched ALL Atwoods to know if they were ever any different.

So now I would call Atwood and find out if a metal plug is a suitable alternative. They might have a very good design reason for using plastic that a metal one might defeat.

Please let us know what you find out. I'm still curious how Atwood solves deposits and impurities that will end up in the water heater. Maybe their tanks are lined differently or they require some other maintenance procedures. I hope Atwood owners know and can comment.
We have a Komfort 5th wheel and are just dewinterizing it. The Suburban water heater has an anode, which we replaced...well put the old one back in because it looked ok.
Then we found the "plastic plug" that was removed last fall. Neither one of us can figure out where it goes. We both crawled under the rig and looked right under the water heater. Can anyone help. AND I read a couple of places that the heater should not be turned on until the water heater is filled with water. I know another "dumb" questions. But how do I know the WTHTR is full? Im assuming when we connect the rig to water it will fill. HELP 2 Thanks
PS I do know there is no "dumb" questions and....I still need an answer.
The best way is once water tanks are full, turn on the water pump. Once the pump stops running the system is pressurized. While pump is running continously look for any leaks. If no leaks one place to start is by lifting the relief valve on water heater, air will come out until it fills the heater (relief is on the top on water heater). This is a good pratice by lifting the relief you vent out air and assure that the relief isn't corroded and in working order. If no air comes out wtr htr maybe be passed. Once heater is full I always go to all the faucets etc starting from the furthest from the heater and turn hot water on until all air is removed when done with hot, vent the cold water lines. When hot and cold lines are vented check for leaks the wtr pump should shut down if not you have a leak. Then i always go back and lift relief vavle to assure heater is still full water pump will start indicating water demand assuring tanks is full and calling for water. The system should be full. Then after the water lines are vented check the drains from all sources for leaks.
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Suburban heaters can have anode rods.....Atwood does not. You will void any warranty with a new Atwood if you install an anode rod. Their water tank internal coating precludes the necessity for anodes. If you install an anode in a Atwood, it will corrode itself to the threads and you will not get it out. They come original with plastic drain plugs.
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