how to drain your hot water heater

How To Drain Your Hot Water Heater

How To Drain Your Hot Water Heater  – A DIY Project For Homeowners


Why Do Hot Water Heaters Need Maintenance?

Water heaters are virtually maintenance free and they often work great for a decade or more with little care, but by not maintaining them you can unknowingly shorten their lifespan and reduce efficiency. Therefore, it is important to have a heating and cooling company take care of this for you. Or, if you are a DIY type-then you can take a few minutes to do the necessary water heater maintenance. It is recommended that you do this at least once a year as mineral deposits can affect the heating element of your water tank and need to be flushed out. This article describes the steps on how to do it yourself.

how to drain your hot water heater

Check the Manufacturers Recommendations First

Each manufacturer has their own checklist of recommended periodic maintenance steps so we do recommend you consult any manufacturer instructions prior to flushing your unit.


Step one:


Inspect your water heater. Check for any water leaks, or corrosion at either the plumbing joints, or for tank-type water heaters, or coming from the water tank itself. If you have a gas water heater then check the condition of any flex hoses and couplings (smell for any gas leaks). Also, always check to make sure there are no flammable materials near the area of combustion.


Step two:

Turn off your water heater. Do not drain a water heater that is in operation.

If you have an electric hot water heater, turn off the electrical switch that connects the heater to the electricity. The switch may be located in a board above the heater or your circuit breaker.

If you have a gas hot water heater, turn the switch to “pilot”

It is recommended to wait at least 3-6 hours to allow the water in the tank to cool before proceeding with the flushing.


Step three:

When you’re ready to flush the water heater, turn the cold water intake valve off. This inlet is often at the top of the heater, and it is where the water pours in before being heated.


Step four:

Turn on a hot water tap that is nearby and is no lower than the level of the water heater, and leave it open. This will allow air to enter the tank as it empties.


Step five:

Open the pressure relief valve on the tank. You could hear a hissing sound when you turn it.


Step six:

Connect a garden hose to the drain valve located near the bottom of the water heater. Make sure that the hose is long enough to reach a drain or sump pit.  Once the hose is connected, before emptying it into a drain you first need to check the sediment type and level in a bucket.


Step seven:

Open the drain valve. It will have either a slot for a flathead screwdriver or a dial or that you will turn counter-clockwise to open. Flush several gallons into the bucket and after a few gallons have drained, inspect it for the sedimentation. If very little sediment is found and the water is clear, then you can stop flushing. If heavier sedimentation is found, or if white sediment is found, it may be an indication that the anode rod has deteriorated and should be inspected and, if necessary, replaced before refilling the tank.  If flushing heavy sediment it might help to periodically turn the cold water supply back on. This helps to better flush any materials still in the tank. You can flush the water until the water flowing from the tank is clear and free of sediment.


Step eight:

Close the drain valve.


Step nine:

You can then turn your water supply back on. Wait until the tank is full before the next step. To make sure it is full you can open the hot water tap again. When the water coming out of it is at full stream then you know your tank is full.


Step ten:

At this time, you can turn on the power to the water heater. Make sure you set the water heater’s temperature dial to 120 degrees F.


In Over Your Head?

Obviously, this is a lot to do and it is not uncommon to run into problems along the way- so feel free to give us a call at 781-343-1515 if you are in the Needham MA or surrounding areas and you’d like Spectrum to manage your water heater maintenance for you.

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