Went to change "element" AFTER draining hot water tank using hose attached to drain nozzle at bottom of tank. Drained for almost an entire day. When I went to unscrew and changed existing element (bottom) on electric tank WATER came out like tank was still full.

I'm concerned about all the water that got between outer tank & inner tank and how to "dry out". I'm concerned about turning electricity back on. I'm concerned that I got over 3 pots of water after all the time taken to drain.

At this point on what I should & should not do?

  • 2
    I assume you shut off the feed/ inlet valve. Did you open the faucets to allow the water in the pipes to drain back into the tank?
    – mikes
    Aug 28 '15 at 23:17
  • 1
    There is NO WAY it would take all day to drain even a 40 or 50 gallon tank. That should take 10 minutes tops. Add the fact that you got water still at the level of the elements says you almost certainly have the inlet valve open, or that it is defective/leaking. Also, there is no where for any water to accumulate between the tank and the outer shell (what you called the outer tank). It's simply insulation and the sheet metal covering. If the insulation got wet when you removed the lower element you'll just have to let it dry out. Aug 28 '15 at 23:34
  • 1
    It is quite common for an "airlock" situation to develop. Did you open faucets on the hot water side to allow air into the tank? If not, it will not drain. Also, as previously mentioned, I have never drained a tank without having to deal with boiler deposits blocking up and sometimes completely plugging the drain valve and hose. Aug 29 '15 at 0:40
  • Washed out valves on main to house possibly Aug 29 '15 at 19:03
  • When you "drained for almost an entire day", how much water was coming out of the hose? Was it a trickle, or a steady flow all day?
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 15 '15 at 14:58

As been pointed out there will be some residual amounts of water left in the hot (and cold) lines even when the tank is empty. Which is you should open the valve farthest from the tank as it is being drained. The other problem I noted is that unless you have an immense (100 gl.) water heater or a very narrow drain valve the shouldn't take so long to drain. What might be happening is hard water deposits have collected at the bottom of the tank enough to slow and block water draining through the valve. Did you happen to notice a build up of whitish flakes on the ground?

To check that the tank is completely empty and not just clogged at the drain valve: open TPR valve and connect the drain hose to a spigot and slowly reverse the water flow back into tank with a couple of short 'on/off' bursts. Air will escape through the TPR valve indicating that the drain valve is open.

  • If the main water valve is not closed, opening the TPR (Temperature/Pressure Relief) valve is going to spill more water. And the drain hose (assuming a water hose) can't be connected to a spigot because the threads would be wrong (male).
    – JPhi1618
    Oct 15 '15 at 14:57

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