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IainW

help to unseize immersion in calorifier please!

77 posts in this topic

Hello! The immersion has died in my calorifier and i can't get it out! The one before died because it kept on leaking around the threads and shorting the electrics. So i may have gone a little OTT with sealing the replacement and now i can't get it out! I put PTFE tape on the threads and a bead of silicon to seal it.

I have the correct box spanner but access is really restricted to get any leverage on it. I have tapped it with a hammer but no joy. I have tried to heat it with a blow torch but the insulation on the calorifier keeps on going up in flames! I have used silicon removal paste to eat up the bead, i have used plus-gas and WD40 but it probably isnt getting into the seals.

HELP!!!!!

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Is the calorifier still full? Makes it easier.

Can you (carefullyish) tap the end of spanner with a lump hammer ?

Edited by PaulJ
Just reread your post- already tried that then..
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14 minutes ago, PaulJ said:

Is the calorifier still full? Makes it easier.

Can you (carefullyish) tap the end of spanner with a lump hammer ?

 

37 minutes ago, IainW said:

I have tapped it with a hammer but no joy

 

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Thank you Alan you missed this though

Edited 13 minutes ago by PaulJ 
Just reread your post- already tried that then..

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10 minutes ago, PaulJ said:

Thank you Alan you missed this though

Edited 13 minutes ago by PaulJ 
Just reread your post- already tried that then..

Fairy snuff - but that wasn't here when I posted - the canal time portal must be back again ?

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The immersion heater wrenches you get in B&Q (or similar) are very feeble and just bend, waste of time. I use a 24" Stillson wrench, that usually sorts it. As post above notes, easier when its full as its got some weight in to hold it steady - but be prepared to drain it smartish once you get the immersion loosened!

Even this is not always infallible, I had to change an immersion at my mother's house a few years back and that would not shift, even with 36" Stillsons - ended up having to renew the cylinder, which wasn't funny:angry:

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Might be worth trying when hot. I don't suppose it will make any difference but when all else fails anything s worth a try.

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Sometimes, trying to tighten it up further helps to "break" the seal, before trying to loosen it.

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Give the top of the immersion heater a few sharp taps around the edge to break the corrosion crud that binds the threads.  Then try turning the wrench in both directions to break the seal.  If the fitter used some thread seal that has set, and all else has failed you could try a blow torch to degrade the stuff, but you may destroy the tank.

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A heavy gauge flat ring spanner (i.e not a box spanner nor a ring spanner with a cranked handle) and a hammer usually works.  You may need to cut-off more insulation and/or remove the cylinder to get the spanner on.  The heater will come out - you just need to hope it doesn't bring the boss and some torn copper too.

With a lighter gauge spanner, the handle tends to bend.  A cranked handle or box spanner is an easier fit - but the shock from the hammer blow is partly expended in rocking the spanner.

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Yeah I've tried hammers, tried tightening. I haven't tried doing it when the water is hot, will try that next. I don't think the there type of spanner will fit due to space constraints and likewise i can't get the calorifier out without removing the shower :-( my next option is to drill a hole in the top then use a grinder or saw to cut it out, don't fancy that option much!

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the other option i saw was to cut a notch in the outside of the immersion and use a hammer drill chisel to knock it round ooft

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On 16/04/2017 at 13:50, Tacet said:

A heavy gauge flat ring spanner (i.e not a box spanner nor a ring spanner with a cranked handle) and a hammer usually works.  You may need to cut-off more insulation and/or remove the cylinder to get the spanner on.  The heater will come out - you just need to hope it doesn't bring the boss and some torn copper too.

With a lighter gauge spanner, the handle tends to bend.  A cranked handle or box spanner is an easier fit - but the shock from the hammer blow is partly expended in rocking the spanner.

This is critically important. The OP MUST go out and buy a FLAT ring spanner. Then smartly hit the end with a hammer the weight of a claw hammer. No larger. Cylinder MUST be full of water.

I've changed thousands of immersion heater elements this way in my 35 years as a plumber and I've yet to be defeated by one.

Box spanners as described by the OP are less than useless for the task, in most cases. As he has found out.  

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22 minutes ago, WotEver said:

Are deliveries still being made on a bank-holiday ?

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21 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Are deliveries still being made on a bank-holiday ?

I don't think Amazon cares much about holidays. I presumed that as the site was specific about when it could be delivered and when it must be ordered by that yes, they'll deliver tomorrow. If not, it's a bit poor stating "Want it tomorrow, 17th April?"

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2 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

This is critically important. The OP MUST go out and buy a FLAT ring spanner. Then smartly hit the end with a hammer the weight of a claw hammer. No larger. Cylinder MUST be full of water.

I've changed thousands of immersion heater elements this way in my 35 years as a plumber and I've yet to be defeated by one.

Box spanners as described by the OP are less than useless for the task, in most cases. As he has found out.  

This advice is spot on, in Norfolk where I served my apprenticeship an immersion element only lasted about 12 months in constant use due to the water conditions. I used a flat ring spaner with quite a short leaver on it, wacked with a lump hammer with the cylinder full of water.

Capture.JPG

Edited by ditchcrawler
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thanks folks, I'll try the different spanner before i go too caveman on her :-)

I don't think a totally flat one will work, but the one with a deep section will. I'll photograph it later to help you see my space restraints...

 

Many thanks for your useful advice thus far...

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It might not be a traditional type of element with a thin gasket. It might be the type sealed with an O ring, in which case they unscrew very easily, a bit like a spin on oil filter.

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10 hours ago, davem399 said:

Sometimes, trying to tighten it up further helps to "break" the seal, before trying to loosen it.

Worked for me a couple of times.

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When all else fails the answer is to split the thread and release the item. You can do this with an immersion heater, but you have to be careful not to damage the sealing face.

Firstly, start with a small hacksaw horizontally flat across one side of the top face and cut down until you get to the gasket. Then extend this line across the lower face of the immersion head casting by drilling a series of holes using say a 4mm drill bit with the holes at 6mm centres, followed by  slightly larger drill bits, until they connect and you can work a hand held hacksaw blade down into the tank. Then carefully cut vertically back towards the thread until you only just start to break through. You may need to do this in up to 3 places with all lines joining, then apply pressure around the outside to collapse the whole thing in - the cheap box spanners will do this for you. It is important that you do not go through the gasket as this will damage the sealing face, but a small amount of thread damage is OK.

The best way to seal an immersion heater is to apply a thin film of traditional Boss White on both sides of the gasket with nothing other than a lubricant on the thread.

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On 16/04/2017 at 18:16, IainW said:

thanks folks, I'll try the different spanner before i go too caveman on her :-)

I don't think a totally flat one will work, but the one with a deep section will. I'll photograph it later to help you see my space restraints...

Okayyyyy.......!

And how many immersion heaters have you changed to date?

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10 hours ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

Okayyyyy.......!

And how many immersion heaters have you changed to date?

only a few, the reason i don't think a flat one will work is that the immersion in sunk into the boiler by a few cms, this may just be insulation that i could scrape away but that would be a massive pain. Also, the plumbing looks like it would get in the way. Check out the photos above if you're interested...

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