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Stuck Water Heater Drain Valve & How To Fix It

A broken water heater drain valve can ruin your morning shower.

It’s a really easy fix though. You need some simple tools to fix this problem. 

How can you fix a stuck water heater drain valve?

To fix it, you’ll be needing a wrench, screwdriver, hacksaw, and pliers. Firstly, locate the drain valve on the bottom side of the water heater. Then cut it with the open-ended hacksaw. Afterward, use a screwdriver to loosen up the cut pieces. Then use the pliers to pull the pieces. 

This is how you can remove a broken drain valve from a water heater. But, that was a simple guide. To learn in detail stay with me!

How to Remove Broken Plastic Drain Valves

Water heaters are a really important household application. Especially in places where it is really cold. It’s almost impossible to take a shower in cold water. So, if the drain valve is broken, you need to fix it. Otherwise, the water heater won’t work. 

The drain valve is important because the water heater can let the excess water out. If water is accumulated at the bottom of your water heater, it can clog the drain valve. Lime usually builds up when water is accumulated at the bottom. 

If the drain valve isn’t passing water through, the water heater will not fill up with new water. Can it cause old dirty water to come through your shower head? 

So, for your help, I have given the instruction in 5 easy steps. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started. 

Step 1: Locate the Drain Valve

Before you even start working, you need to know what you are working on. Otherwise, you can damage the water heater. 

The drain valve is located near the bottom rim of the water heater. It kinda looks like a tap. The drain valve can come in both metal and plastic. The drain valve can also be connected to a hose. So check your model of water heater to locate the drain valve. 

Step 2: Cut the Drain Valve with a Hacksaw

It’s really hard to get a hold of a broken drain valve. If you can, congrats. This makes the work a whole lot easier. 

But if you cannot, you need to take the help of a hacksaw. You’ll be needing an open-ended hacksaw to reach the full depth of the valve. So, push the hacksaw inside and start cutting. Do remember not to cut the water heater through. Just cut the valve. 

Step 3: Use a screwdriver to separate the Pieces

At present, the valve is loose, you can use a screwdriver to wiggle the drain valve. Cut in multiple sides on the drain valve. I suggest you cut at least 3 sides of the drain valve. This way it can easily slip through the pipe. 

Then take the screwdriver and push it through two cut pieces. And wiggle the screwdriver and make space between the two. This way the pieces will come loose and you can pull them out. 

Step 4: Use Pliers to Pull the Pieces Out

As I said before it can be hard to get a hold of the broken pieces. It’s hard cause you cannot unthread the valve just by twisting. It can be hard to twist because you cannot grab any exposed part of the valve. 

After finishing the previous task, you see that the pieces are loose. You can take pliers and pull the pieces out. Grab onto the exposed cut piece of the valve. Then pull the cut part. Make sure you are holding the piece tight. Otherwise, it can slip away from your grip. 

Remove all the cut pieces like this. Do it one by one, no need to rush. Make sure you don’t put a dent in your water heater while pulling the pieces. Very often you may notice issues with dented water heaters.

Step 5: Clean the Space with a Wired Brush

Now that the pieces are gone, you can thread the new valve in. Well not yet. When you cut the pieces with the hacksaw there are grimes from it. It can cause problems getting a proper seal. 

So, to clean the valve line, you’ll be needing help from a wired brush. A wired brush can be rough enough to clean this valve hole. 

If you don’t have a wired brush, check the links below. Both of these brushes are really durable. These will last a very long time:


Having a metal brush around can come in handy. You can use this brush to clean other surfaces as well. 

And this way you can remove a broken drain valve. But wait, do you know how to install a new drain valve? If you don’t, check the segment below. 

How to Attach a New Drain Valve

Previously you have learned the process of removing broken valves. It’s time to attach the new drain valve. It might seem really easy, but there are a few steps you might overlook. 

That is why I have given steps for you to follow. I have mentioned all the steps in detail. So you don’t miss out on anything. So let’s get started. 

Step 1: Drain the Water Heater

Before you even attach the new drain valve, you need to drain the water heater. Usually, water accumulates in the bottom of the water heater. So before you even get started with the new valve, drain the water heater. 

Rotate the knob on the drain valve to release the existing water. You can attach a garden hose so the water drips directly to the drain. 

Although, you don’t need to worry about draining the water heater if it’s already broken. Water will leak away if the valve is already broken. 

Step 2: Apply Thread or Teflon tape on the Drain Valve

Before you thread the new valve in, you need to apply Teflon tape. Another name for the Teflon tape is thread tape. Both are the same things. 

The thread tape is applied so that there is no leak. The tape kind of molds as the thread of the pipe and covers all the unsealed parts. 

Rotate the tape clockwise on the thread of the drain valve. Make sure you apply at least 3 rotations of the tape. But no more than 5 rotations. The drain valve might not fit if you apply too much of the tape. 

Step 3: Clean the Drain Valve Space

Another important part of the installation process is to clean the drain valve. Usually lime clogs the draining valve. So if you don’t clean the lime, it can block the drain valve. 

If the drain pipe isn’t clean the water heater can even explode. Since excess water cannot pass by. Signs of your water heater going to explode can be a puffy body of the water heater. 

Using a metal brush, in this case, can help as well. Brush the insides of the drain valve and clean it thoroughly. Make sure the thread can stick properly. Or else there will be leaks and many other issues with the valve. 

Step 4: Screw the Drain Valve

Now it’s time to screw the new valve in. Usually, the thread of the pipe goes clockwise. But it also might depend on the model of the water heater you are using. 

There are a lot of valves out in the market. But metal drain valves are the best. It can be a bit pricey, but it’s hard to break metal drain valves. 

Plastic drain valves are a bit more fragile. But it was cheap. So, if you are on a budget, get the plastic one. If you stay careful, it can last as long as a metal drain valve would. 

Step 5: Check if Water is leaking from the Drain Valve

You have screwed the drain valve in, congrats. It’s time to check if there are any leaks or such. 

Run water through the water heater so that it can fill up. Then run the water heater to check if the drain valve can stand the heat.

It is built up to stand against the heat. But it’s just to make sure the drain valve you got isn’t faulty. 


Do all drain valves come in the same sizes?

No, not all the drain valves will fit your water heater. There are different manufacturers of water heaters and drain valves. And each of the manufacturers follows different design sets. So, the sizes are different. 

How to tighten the drain valve in the water heater?

Using a wrench to tighten the drain valve is ideal. But you can also use wide pliers to tighten it in. but it’s not ideal, so it might not be properly tightened. To the drain hole. 

What to do if the water isn’t draining?

If water isn’t draining, it’s mainly because lime has accumulated at the bottom. You need to backflush the water heater. Attach the drain valve to a washing machine hose. Then run water at full force to clean the inside. This way you can clean any blockage. 


That was everything you needed to know about the stuck water heater drain valve. The process is not that complicated if you follow the steps. 

Always remember to turn the switches off before working on any electronics. Otherwise, you can get electrocuted. 

Good luck with your water heater!