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Over-Tightened Filter on Tankless Heater

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finn

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A few years ago, we replaced our conventional water heater with a tankless system. Because the water quality where we live is very poor, we also had a Falsken Water Systems filter kit (“The Heater Treater”) installed at the same time. The unit is connected to the feed water line and basically consists of a housing that a hard plastic cylindrical casing (which contains the filter) is screwed into. The water then passes through the cylinder and filter before being redirected to the heater.

So every year for the last five years or so, I’ve purchased a new filter from the company, unscrewed the hard plastic cylindrical casing and replaced the filter. There is a small rubber o-ring that comes with the filter that gets lightly lubed and inserted into the threads of the casing before re-attaching it. The unit also comes with a hard plastic “wrench” that fits snugly around the ridges on the outside of the casing, and is used to unscrew the casing.

But this year when I went to repeat the procedure, I found that I could not unscrew the casing. There is a pressure relief button on top of the tank that I’ve found helpful in the past, but this time it did not work. I contacted the company and they told me that it sounded like the casing was put on too tight the last time the filter was changed. As the o-ring hardened, it created a “super seal.” They said the only thing that would work now was brute force.

The problem is that there is only so much force I can generate with the supplied plastic wrench. And realistically, too much force might actually rip the unit off from where it is attached to the wall. Does anyone have any ideas about how I can generate enough leverage to break a “super seal”? Someone at the company mentioned a strap wrench – do you think that might work? Or is there some way I can somehow get some kind of lubricant onto the threads of the casing to help loosen it? Or is there some other way to relieve the pressure created by the “super seal” – maybe similar to when you’re trying to open a sealed jar, and you slip a knife's edge underneath the lid and it helps pop the vacuum seal and reduces the pressure on the lid? I’m really at a loss here and open to any suggestions. Thanks!
 

johnjh2o

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Use two wrenches. A strap wrench on the top and your plastic wrench on the bottom. Scissor the two wrenches and have at it.
 

finn

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Use two wrenches. A strap wrench on the top and your plastic wrench on the bottom. Scissor the two wrenches and have at it.
Thanks for the suggestion! I had actually considered that idea but the thing is, the metal housing that the plastic casing screws into is kind of on the small side - I don't know if there's enough surface area there for a strap wrench to grab ahold of.
 

HWSleuth

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How about super heating and/or cooling the o-ring thread area? Try a hair dryer or paint removal heat gun. Or super cool it using freon. Maybe alternate temperatures until it releases?
 

Jeff Handy

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I like the hair dryer idea.
Blow the air from the bottom up, along the filter housing into the overhanging cap that it hangs from, all around as far as the air can reach.
Might take a while, because the water in the filter has to heat up also, before the cap and o ring will get really warm.

Don’t melt it, keep the hairdryer moving around.

Option B is drill a small hole in the side of the lower casing vessel, to relieve pressure.
Then repair the hole later with a small short screw with epoxy on the threads.
Goofy idea, just putting it out there.

If you end up getting it off, or even just have to replace the whole unit, from now on add some silicone lube in the plastic threads that the filter housing screws into.
That plastic on plastic connection gets tight!
 

havasu

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I've always used a leather belt with a metal belt buckle. You will be surprised how it will cinch down as you pull. Much stronger than a rubber strap.
 

havasu

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My auto shop teacher in high school in 1970 told me that trick. It is guaranteed to spin off any oil filter around. I had an old belt that I used for years with oil changes. When my son was 16, I was teaching him how to do an oil change. He got the engine nice and hot, then drained the oil into a drain pan. I gave him my trusty belt, with 18 years of age had become brittle. He wrapped the oil filter, pulled...the leather belt broke, and my son fell backwards into that hot drain pan full of oil. It splashed oil all over the garage and I was laughing hysterically, as his ass was burning. Some funny stuff that he reminds me on a weekly basis, even today.
 
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