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We got our flush wand stuck in our water heater!

Our flush wand got stuck in our water heater! Yikes! Didn’t think that would happen…

It is time to pack up and move to cooler ground, so we are getting all those seasonal and yearly RV tasks done. Just one left: Change the anode rod in the water heater and flush it out. It is amazing the amount of gunk that comes out every year!

Anode rods

It is important to change those rods if your Suburban water heater uses them. The anode rod is made of magnesium, zinc or aluminum that sacrifices itself instead of dissolving the steel tank. We waited two years after we bought the motorhome to change it the first time. That was a mistake—the rod was almost gone!

This year, it wasn’t so bad…

Photo Credit: Nanci Dixon

Process

We dutifully followed our standard procedure:

  • Turned off hot water heating element.
  • Waited several hours for the water to cool down.
  • Lifted pressure relief valve.
  • Unscrewed the anode rod slightly to let water start to seep out.
  • Impatient husband swiftly removes anode rod and is completely blasted with mineral filled water.
  • Attached water hose to flush wand.
  • Put flush wand in water heater and turned on water to flush.

Flush wand stuck in water heater

  • The water from the hose was full force, which detached the wand and shot it into the water heater. Not good. The flush wand got stuck in the RV water heater! I took out our handy waterproof endoscope and searched for it. Next, I added water with the now-wandless flush tool.
  • Water rushed out, soaking me this time. I put on a change of clothes and went back to searching. I could see the wand floating and moving around. Twice it made it to the opening. I tried grabbing it with needle nose pliers, a thin screw driver and, finally, withered and cold fingers.
Flush wand stuck in RV water heater
Photo credit Nanci Dixon
Flush wand in water heater

I wish I could say we got it, that all is well and no harm done. But no luck… yet. I would like to show a photo of the whole wand flush tool but, alas, the wand is still in the water heater tank.

Flush wand tool
Photo credit Nanci Dixon

So, there are two morals to this story: Change the anode rod regularly, and put a clamp on wand before flushing. I will try to get it out again tomorrow, but right now I need a hot shower. Wait, there’s no hot water….

##RVDT1842

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Eric
2 months ago

Well written. A fun way to describe your predicament.

Lee A.
2 months ago

I had the exact same thing happen to me using the Camco wand. I even contacted Camco and told them there was a design flaw and the wand was easily separated from the hose connection…they have done nothing to correct the problem.

It took me 2 weeks of trying to remove it, and I finally did it! First of all, it’s impossible to remove it from the drain hole. Mine is an Atwood and doesn’t require an anode rod. I was successful in removing it by removing the electric heating element and finally grabbing it with a pair of 12 inch locking forceps. I actually needed 2 pairs because once I grabbed it I could only move it slightly and then used the second pair to secure it while repositioning the first pair. It was a tedious operation, especially since my heater wasn’t that easily accessible.

Camco said to just leave it there…it wouldn’t hurt anything. They also said to never use high water pressure when using it. No mention of that fact in the instructions!

Good luck!

Lee

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee A.
Jackie Proko
2 months ago

Oh my goodness! I just googled this exact thing because it just happened to us! We’re going to try to flood it out. If it doesn’t come out, what then? Fingers crossed! Nanci, did you get yours out?

Jackie Proko
2 months ago
Reply to  Jackie Proko

Thanks to the great suggestions offered here, we got the wand out! Flushed with water, used the coat hanger to bring it close to the opening and used clamps to get it out. Nanci, I’m sorry it happened to you too, but your post and the suggestions from others helped us! Much appreciated.

Greg
2 months ago

I hope you are not flushing it out with the same wand you use to flush the black water tank! You don’t need a wand, just open the inlet valve and flush with water pressure.

Dennis Johnson
2 months ago

I drain my water heater, connect a 3/4″ pipe nipple to the drain threads, then screw a 3/4″ full flow ball valve to it. I hook a hose from the water supply to the city water and fill the system to pressure. Then I start the heater, let it get hot, then turn it off.
Then, standing clear of the valve, open it and let it fly out onto the ground. A lot of mineral deposits fly out. Open and close the valve a few times, until water runs clear. Turn off the water and drain heater. Screw in the new anode and you are ready to go.

DW/ND
2 months ago

Nanci: I would suggest a metal coat hanger or stiff wire. Bend the end to a hook shape and when the wand gets near the hole insert the hook and hook on the opposite end of the wand…. have a needle nose pliars handy as it comes out of the water heater. Good luck!

Don N
2 months ago
Reply to  DW/ND

The problem may have been too much pressure on the supply water hose when you turned on the cleanout wand.

Steve Mangrum
2 months ago

There’s a device out there that might work. It’s a flexible rod about 18 inches long with a thumb plunger on one end and 4 retractable claws on the other that grip objects when the plunger is released. Harbor Freight and hardware stores have them.

Eric
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve Mangrum

Auto supply stores too.

David F.
2 months ago

Same thing happened to me. Eventually I was able to get a straightened coat hanger into it, and then it came out.

Rick
2 months ago

Take out the element and you should be able to get it out.

Kelley Miller
2 months ago

This exact same thing happened to me when I dewinterized my RV a month ago. I just kept flushing water in the water heater, and lo and behold, the thing just floated out. I laughed so hard, but I really wanted to cry. Then, I bought a new wand. It arrived with the same crack as my existing one (and it was not a returnable item on Amazon), so I bought some clamps for next time. Hopefully someone from Camco is reading this article because that wand, while very useful, is not made with any quality control.

tom
2 months ago

Forceps maybe? Looks like no fun.

Gary
2 months ago

I had a similar experience this weekend. I turned the nozzle on to check it was working before inserting it into the heater. The nozzle flew off. I checked and there was a similar crack in the wand, I just ordered a metal device.

Glen Cowgill
2 months ago

Maybe you should identify So and So wand tool as the piece of junk it really is. Too much of this junk makes it into the hands of un-suspecting consumers.

Bob
2 months ago
Reply to  Glen Cowgill

It appears to be the Camco. I also looked at these and didn’t like the fact that the tube was just pushed onto the fitting and very cheap plastic.
Ended up making my own. Metal fittings and marine grade epoxy holding everything together.

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