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Old 02-16-2008, 04:22 PM   #1
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A question to everyone. I have seen a lot of discussion about check valves and the failure of them on the hot water heaters. I was in one of the big box stores to day in the plumbing section and noticed a check valve that is made of copper/brass. It is a valve that has a copper/brass flapper that opens to allow water to flow through and then closes to shut off water from backflowing. A very simple device. I am wondering if this would be an adequate replacement for the check valve that we have on the backs of our hot water heaters. The check valve is 1/2 inch on both sides so should integrate in our plumbing with ease. Also, since it is female threaded, one could use nylon nipples to avoid the brass to aluminum metal issue that several people have talked about. Would love to hear anyone's thoughts on this. The cost of the check valve is $6.95.
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Old 02-16-2008, 04:22 PM   #2
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A question to everyone. I have seen a lot of discussion about check valves and the failure of them on the hot water heaters. I was in one of the big box stores to day in the plumbing section and noticed a check valve that is made of copper/brass. It is a valve that has a copper/brass flapper that opens to allow water to flow through and then closes to shut off water from backflowing. A very simple device. I am wondering if this would be an adequate replacement for the check valve that we have on the backs of our hot water heaters. The check valve is 1/2 inch on both sides so should integrate in our plumbing with ease. Also, since it is female threaded, one could use nylon nipples to avoid the brass to aluminum metal issue that several people have talked about. Would love to hear anyone's thoughts on this. The cost of the check valve is $6.95.
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Old 02-16-2008, 07:28 PM   #3
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The check valves that come with many motorhome water heaters are made of brass but the internal parts are frequently constructed of plastic. As a result, it would be prudent to upgrade this component to avoid future problems.

That being said, one of the most common reasons for check valve failure are undissolved salts that build up inside water heaters. If you make it a habit to flush out your water tank at least twice a year, you may never have to deal with check valve problems in the first place. My check valve recently started making a screeching noise. The folks at Atwood suggested that I flush the system with white vinigar. After two doses, the noise stopped. Water heaters typically have two check valves: One at the top (where the water comes out hot) and one at the bottom (where the water goes in cold). In my case, it was the upper check valve that was getting gummed up with salts. Best of luck and great suggestion.

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Old 02-17-2008, 04:27 AM   #4
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How did you get vinigar into the water heater?

Thanks
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Old 02-17-2008, 01:29 PM   #5
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I get it into mine by removing the pressure relief valve -- located near the top of my heater and then pour the vinegar in that way. I clean my heater at least twice a year. I also have a fitting that fits on the end of a hose (yellow and about 8" long with an angle at the end) and after the vinegar treatment, I will flush out real good in all directions -- normally losens up and flushes out the scale/mineral deposits.
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Old 02-17-2008, 08:00 PM   #6
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David K's suggestion to remove the pressure relief valve is the best way to add a lot (i.e. a gallon) of white vinigar to the tank. I was able to get around half a gallon into the tank by inserting a funnel into the drain hole. When the vinigar starts comming out, quickly screw in the drain plug.

In any case, if you have AC water heating option, make sure that it's turned OFF before doing the maintenance. Otherwise, you're apt to burn out the element when the tank is drained. Best of luck.

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Old 02-17-2008, 08:20 PM   #7
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Thanks Dave, My wife uses vinegar to clean the coffee pot but I never thought about using it on the water heater. One more thing to add to the to-do list when we get back next month.
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Old 03-04-2011, 09:06 AM   #8
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I have been rinsing my hot water heater out but have not used white vinegar. What do you do once the vinegar is in the hot water heater? Seems like it would have to flow through the valves to dissolve any build up.
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Old 03-05-2011, 06:50 AM   #9
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And which Big Box store did you see the valve David.
I looked for a valve at H.D. and that particular store did not have a substitute for the old one I had in my hand.
So, I went by an RV place and picked up the standard valve made of brass outside but plastic check part valves inside.
If I pass what you describe I’ll buy one for use next time but I wouldn’t go to the trouble of preventive replacement as the scratches on my arms have not yet healed from the “learning experience”. And, in my coach, the top valve is easier to work on than the bottom fill valve.
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Old 03-05-2011, 10:14 AM   #10
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A potential problem with a flapper valve is that it will only work if there is water pressure to hold the flapper closed (if I'm understanding correctly how it works). The originally installed valves have a spring that keeps it closed.
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:35 PM   #11
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Just a short update since I had to take my water heater out to do some repair work on a cracked fitting. While I had it out, I looked at the fittings on each side of the check valve -- each of the fittings have a "rubber like" gasket in them ---- in both of the fittings the gasket material was cracking and coming apart. The check valve was completely clean except for some of the cracked material which was in the valve. I am thinking that the "rubber like" material in the fittings on each side of the check valve is the cause of the failures --not the valve itself. In my case, I replaced the check valve with a manual valve. The check valve comes into play when you winterize the hot water heater and I have now put manual valves on both the input side and output side of the hot water heater lines with a cross over valve between the lines. To winterize now, I close the valves on the water lines and open the cross over valve. This keeps the anti-freeze from getting into the heater and still allows me to winterize the water lines in the MH.
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Old 03-08-2011, 10:25 PM   #12
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David K,

I assume that you are aware that winterizing is not the only purpose for the check valves. The inlet valve also prevents the hot water from backing up into the cold piping. I've been told that there is nothing quite like the odor after a "hot flush" or the surprise you get when hot water suddenly comes out of the cold faucet.
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Old 03-20-2011, 12:25 PM   #13
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Just came across this discussion - after discovering that I can get no hot water out of the heater. I have come to the conclusion that the problem is the outlet from the hot water heater, since I get water through the hot side of all faucets when the bypass valve is used. I assumed that there is blockage at the tank and have tried to blow the line out with compressed air - with no luck. I was unaware that there is a check valve in the tank.
How can I identify the correct valve to remove it?? Can it be restored since I cannot water or air through it???
Hope someone can help - THANKS!!!!!!
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Old 03-20-2011, 05:20 PM   #14
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On most water heaters, the hot water outlet is the top outlet from the tank -- the check valve is usually located right outside the heater on the back (on most Atwood heaters that is where it is located). The valve (or the connectors on each side of it) are prone to deterioration and if the valve can't work correctly, then it will stop hot water flow from the hot water heater. In order to get to mine, I have to remove the hot water heater. On some coaches, I understand that the back of the heater is accessable without removing the heater. From your description, I would suspect that the valve has "mal-functioned." The check valve can be replaced or can be serviced by removing it from the back of the heater. Nearly all of the check valves "out there" have plastic "innerards" --- some people have repaired the insides, others have just removed the "innerards" -----

Ernieh -- I do understand your comment but, the way my coach is plumbed, that type of back flow is practically impossible to occur. The water would have to back up the check valve in the water pump if I am using it and if I am hooked up to shore water, the backup would have to over come the water pressure -- I don't think that gravity would overcome about 45 PSI and back up the hot water.
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