How to Drain a Water Heater

Here’s a hot tip (literally)! There’s an easy maintenance job you can handle at home, today, with the tools you have on hand that can get your water heater working better instantly – and extend its lifespan to boot! This time on the Economy Plumbing Services blog, we’re going to teach you how to drain a water heater and answer how and why you might want to!

How to Drain a Water Heater 

Draining a water heater is a surprisingly straightforward job and with a bit of know-how and confidence, it’s a job you can easily tackle yourself at home. So let’s go ahead and get you the know-how!

Start with a Flush

Perform a quick flush. Before turning off the water, connect a garden hose to the drain valve and try and flush the water heater tank a bit while the water pressure is on. You do this by opening the drain valve for a few seconds and then closing it again. 

The pressure in the tank will blow out any sediment stuck in the valve. and help the tank drain faster. If quite a bit of sediment comes out, you can repeat this a couple of times.

Shut Down the Water Heater

Shut off the gas or power to your water heater (depending on what kind it is). Now shut off the water, using either the valve in the cold-water pipe above the water heater. You can also shut off water to the whole house if you find the main water supply but that’s not totally necessary. If you do so, make sure the pressure is off by testing the water faucets in the house, turning them on, and checking for hot water.

Open Up The Drain Valve

With a drain hose attached, open up the drain valve. It won’t drain too fast at first, as there will be a vacuum in the tank. To help speed it up, remove one end of the hot water pipe above the water heater to let some air in. The water will rush out of the drain.

Flush the Tank

Once the tank is fully drained, you will want to flush it. Use a few gallons at a time by turning the water on for few seconds and then letting it drain out again. 

Refill the Tank and Relight the Heater

Disconnect the drain hose and close the drain valve. Make sure you reconnect the hot water pipe if you opened it up, and tighten it right. Now you can turn the water back on and let it refill. You also want to make sure there isn’t any air trapped in the line, that’ll make for an unpleasant surprise later! Open the hot tap of a fixture in your house, you can just go for whatever is closest to your water heater, or using the bathtub  Leave the fixture running until all the air is out of the lines and you are getting nothing but water out of the fixture, then turn off the water.

Relight the water heater pilot, or turn the power back on if it is an electric heater. Give it some time for the tank to heat and you’ll be back in business!

Check the Valve

The last thing you want is to leave your drain valve open and leaking! See if your water heater drain closed completely by looking for leaks at the spout. If it did not close completely, you can put a cap over the hose thread of the outlet to stop the leak. If it’s giving you more trouble, give us a call, we got it covered.

When to Drain a Water Heater

This depends entirely on the make of your water heater! Check your owner’s manual for a good idea, most recommend draining it once every 6 – 12 months. Some may ask you to only do a gallon or so at a time, but to do it more regularly. But here’s the thing about those manuals, they can’t account for the quality of your water. 

So, after you’ve gone ahead and flushed your water heater, set a reminder, and do it again in six months. See how much sediment as accumulated again in that amount of time. It may be your water necessitates a more frequent (or relaxed) draining schedule.

Of course, if just reading this has given you a bit of a headache or caused your hands to get sweaty don’t stress. You don’t have to know how to drain a water heater, you can simply call in the professionals. We’re happy to take care of any job, no matter the size from a simple clog to a full-blown, whole-house repiping. Economy Plumbing Service LLC is here for you! Give us a call and one of our guys will be out in no time to get it working again, exactly as it should.

If water runs through it or to it, we do it!

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