Richmond Water Heater Questions

The Tank Richmond Water Heater Questions

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    Moved into house. Two weeks later, electric water heater quits heating water. Good timing, eh? 😯

    Item: What function is served by red PEX pipe emanating from Drain Valve?

    Item: Lower screw-in heater element fails VOM test. Upper screw-in element passes w/ 13.2 ohms. First attempt at removal of lower element w/ generic 1.5″ socket is spectacular fail, i.e., slips off thin flange nut.

    How was I to know that removing a screw-in heating element from a water heater should rank as the 13th labour of Hercules? Apparently, this issue has been the frustration & complaint of legion repairers, including professonials, for many years – as witness numerous web videos about the problem along with scads of horror stories from agonized repairers. Why, then, don’t manufacturers respond sensibly and machine a thicker flange nut, so that typical unfastening tools can grip it securely? Is there some unknown violation of physics impeding that improvement? Maybe an enterprising hobbyist will one day address this notorious deficiency and thereupon apply for an improvement patent. That inventor will be roundly celebrated in plumbing and DIY circles, not to mention grabbing market share.

    Item: How to access the anode on this heater for inspection? Can anyone provide step-by-step instructions, preferably with picture and/or diagram?

    Randy Schuyler

    The red PEX may be part of a gravity-feed recirculation line. My friend Larry Weingarten, who will read this at some point, may have other possibilities.

    The white cap probably covers the anode port. I can provide step-by-step instructions for its removal, but you’ll have to buy an anode from me to get them. Parts sales support this forum, so I’m inclined to give away such things. Also, unless the heater is in an area where a flood would harm nothing, having it on a drain pan would be a good idea.

    Randy Schuyler


    Thanks, Mr. Schuyler.

    More grist for the mill: This house relies on a ground-source heat pump for space heating. Which begs the question of whether a gravity-feed recirculation line to the electric water heater might play a role in the grand scheme of things.

    Larry Weingarten

    Hello, I do have a few thoughts. About getting that element out, here’s what I’ve had success with (even without getting a patent :D). Take a 1-1/2″ six point socket with a 3/4″ drive and grind off the end of it so you have full contact with the element. If you look, you’ll see that sockets are beveled inside, so they don’t make full contact. Removing that 1/4″ or so fixes the problem. I’ve snapped off 1/2″ drives, so I use the bigger drive now. Oh, and this: always put two or three turns of teflon tape on the element before putting it back in. This will make removal the next time much easier!

    About that red PEX line, I’d like to see a photo of where it ties into the heater. That will give us more to respond to. It may have something to do with the heat pump, or a recirculation line or??? Also, how old is the house. Knowing that will be a clue about the use of PEX. 😎

    Yours, Larry

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