The valve just spins freely. What could be the problem? I'm getting cold water pressure just fine but only an extremely weak flow of hot water. Tried different fixtures. I don't know why this happened. Nothing seemed to break, it didn't require a lot of force to close it. It's an electric heater.

Edit: https://youtu.be/gxz6fYfMloE

Posted a video of how it turns freely. You can see the whole tank at the end.

Image of valve

1 Answer 1


That appears to be a gate valve. There is a threaded portion inside the valve that goes inside of a block of metal that moves up and down when you turn the handle. Since you can turn the handle, but the flow of water doesn't seem to increase, the gate has somehow become detached from the screw. Maybe the threads have stripped out, or maybe the screw shaft has broken.

Even if I'm wrong about the exact type of valve, that one is broken one way or another and will need to be replaced. Ball valves are a good choice for water heaters because they tend to be less likely to stick and are easy to turn off (only takes 1/4 turn). This shouldn't be a big deal using modern push-to-fit connectors on that nice copper pipe.

Feel free to post an additional question if you run into problems with the valve replacement.

Now that I think about it... Before anything else, try to push down with a good amount of force on the handle while turning the valve to open it. Perhaps you can get the threads to bite down and pull the gate up.

  • Would it be possible to just replace the piece that's not working? I could replace it with a ball valve but I just want know if there's that alternative. Also, is there any danger once I shut off the water completely? Will there be any pressure from the tank or anything dangerous when I remove the old valve? Thank you.
    – SRCP
    Dec 6, 2019 at 20:01
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    If you could find the exact same valve you might be able to replace the insides of your valve with the new valve, but these days, people don't really repair them. It's just a replaceable item. Turn off the gas or electricity to the water heater, then turn off the water to the house, then turn on a hot tap in the house to relieve any pressure in the system (probably minimal). If using push-to-fit connectors, clean the copper until it's copper colored again. Emory cloth can make quick work of that.
    – JPhi1618
    Dec 6, 2019 at 20:11
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    That vertical rectangular section in the middle if the body indicates it's a gate valve. The top will unscrew with a large enough wrench on the big hexagon - typically you remove it while you sweat the body onto the pipework, or you'll fry the gland. If you can find an identical valve, that assembly could be unscrewed and the new one screwed in without having to change the body itself over - so long as the sealing faces in the body are good.
    – Phil G
    Dec 6, 2019 at 20:20
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    If you can loosen the larger nut and separate the valve, you might b able to remove the gate portion and then reassemble it so you at least have hot water until you can replace the valve... just a thought.
    – JACK
    Dec 6, 2019 at 20:47
  • I called a plumber just to know how much he would charge. He said $160. Is that reasonable?
    – SRCP
    Dec 6, 2019 at 22:51

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