Learning how to drain a water heater and doing so routinely as part of your home maintenance schedule will help extend the home appliance’s life span significantly. Draining removes any sediment and other debris that may have built up over time. A clean water heater will work better and last longer. 

Why drain a water heater?

Naturally occurring minerals, sand, and grit flushed from municipal water lines may settle in the bottom of your hot water heater over time. This buildup can reduce the life span, efficiency, and capacity of your heating system. Moreover, the debris can also plug the drain and interfere with its maintenance. All this can lead to your home appliance’s early failure

What are the warning signs that your water heater has sediment buildup?

drain water heater

There are several indicators of sediment buildup in your heater. These include:

  • Increased energy bills despite the same usage
  • Running out of hot water prematurely
  • Noise from the heater while it’s running
  • Rusty or smelly hot water
  • Longer time in heating up the water
  • Inconsistent water temperature 

Read more: How to get water heater financing easily 

How to drain a water heater?

Fortunately, draining a water heater to remove all the sediments can be done easily. The DIY project takes very little time and some basic tools.

That said, you must go through the owner’s manual of your particular type of water heater before beginning the draining and cleaning process.) 

If you’re hesitant to perform this type of maintenance, you can always hire a professional plumber for the water heater draining.

However, if you’re gung-ho about draining your water heater, here is a step-by-step guide to help you along the way.

Turn off the cold water supply to the heater

turn off water heater

You can see a water pipe and a shutoff valve entering the water heater. You’ll need to stop the water flow into the heater tank by turning this valve.

Cut off the power supply to the heater

Turning off the main power supply will prevent you from potentially burning out the heating elements. If it’s an electric water heater, switch off the power from your home’s electrical panel. If it’s a gas water heater, turn the water heater’s thermostat to ‘pilot’ or shut off the gas supply completely. 

Give some time for the water to cool down

Let the hot water within the tank cool down to prevent any injury. Ideally, you should wait overnight or for at least a few hours. It’s best if you can utilize the hot water by taking a shower. It will also speed up the cooling process.

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve

Start by placing one end of a garden hose into the floor drain or somewhere outside your home. Take the other end and attach it to the drain valve of your water heater.

Turn on a hot water faucet

Turn on a hot water sink faucet nearest to the water heater to help alleviate pressure in the system and allow the heater to drain quickly. 

Open the heater’s drain valve 

water heater fix

Opening the valve will allow the water to flow out of the tank. It might take some time to empty out a full tank or if there’s a lot of sediment buildup.

Read more: Water heater pilot light keeps going out

Turn the water supply back on 

Turn on the cold water supply with the drain valve still open. This will flush the tank with fresh, clean water and help eliminate any remaining sediment. Repeat the procedure until the water runs clear. 

Refill the heater’s tank

Remove the garden hose from the drain valve, close the drain valve, and turn the water supply or gas supply back on. Wait to refill the water heater tank completely.

How often should you drain a water heater?

Experts recommend draining the water heater once a year – more frequently if you live in a region with hard water. That said, your owner’s manual will have the exact specifications.

It’s important to drain your heating appliance regularly to keep it running efficiently and the hot water flowing without interruption. 

Last thoughts

Draining your water heater – regardless of the type of storage tank water heater you have – annually will make it more efficient and safe. It will remove any sediment that builds up and will keep your heater running for years to come.

Read more: Water heater maintenance tips

How to drain a water heater: A step-by-step guide was last modified: February 13th, 2023 by Ramona Sinha
Your opinion matters, leave a comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments