The Weakest Link

When we moved our RV a couple of weeks ago, i noticed a small drip coming from our Atwood water heater. After investigating this drip, I found a drip coming from the water heater’s drain. While we were at Lone Star Yogi in Waller, TX we had an issue where the hot water line was blocked at the by-pass valve. At that time, I turned off the water heater, drained and flushed it but could not dislodge the blockage. We had an RV service tech come out to clear the blockage. The service tech may used the original plug when he finished up the job.

So what does the weakest link look like? Atwood apparently uses a plastic plug instead of metal because they are less expensive than other plug types. That may be fine for folks who use their RV occasionally. For full-time RVers, that may not be the best choice.

PlugFull time RVers typically keep their water on 24/7, just as homeowners. The constant heat will cause the soft plastic to become brittle. When I applied a little pressure to remove the plug, the head broke completely off.  I was able to dig out the plastic threads and discovered pipe dope was apparently applied by the service tech. That gunk now has to be removed so I can install a new plug.

IMG_2025The discoloration is a good indicator that the plug failed due to heat and brittleness. I used a 3″ 1/2 pipe nipple to clean pipe dope from the threads so I could insert a new plug. After liberally applying Teflon tape to a brass plug,  I was successful in fixing the leak.

IMG_2026So here are my tips after fixing this leak:

  • The constant heat will cause the plastic drain plug to fail.
  • Trying to tighten it will not fix the leak.
  • Have a spare plug. You might not be close to a hardware store or the store may be closed when you need one.
  • Before you attempt ANY work on the water heater, turn it off and let the water cool. Failure to turn the water heater off will cause the heating element to burn out.
  • Turn off the water supply to the RV before working on anything plumbing related.
  • Purge the hot water lines of air to make sure the water heater is full of water before turning the water heater back on.

Now it is time to sit back and watch a little college football. Thanks for stopping by, y’all come back now.

2 responses to “The Weakest Link

  1. Y’all have heard of Murphy’s Law…….Well, have you heard of O’Toole’s Theorem? “Murphy was an optimist.”

  2. Hey, I like the new cover photo. Glad you showed that HWH who’s boss!

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