How to drain a hot water heater

When you turn the shower on, it’s likely you anticipate hot water. And you probably don’t give it a second thought until the hot water runs out. Starting your day with a cold shower is a sure reminder of the importance of properly caring for your hot water heater.

The lifespan of the average hot water heater is 8-12 years, and you can even extend the service life of the tank by draining it once a year. This helps eliminate sediment buildup, allowing it to perform more efficiently.

Steps To Drain A Hot Water Heater

Before you begin draining your hot water heater, you’ll need to turn the unit off. If you have an electric unit, unplug the heater from the wall or flip the circuit breaker. For a gas heater, you’ll need to turn off the gas supply and extinguish the pilot light.

Next, get a 4-5 ft. piece of garden hose with a fitting that can connect to your hot water heater. Typically, the same fitting you use on your hose bib will connect to the drain valve, but double check the fitting so you don’t create a leak. Point the hose into a floor drain or bucket before draining.

Sediment and other debris settles at the bottom of your hot water tank, so it may be necessary to drain the entire unit. Releasing a few gallons from the tank usually eliminates all of the buildup.

8 Steps To Drain Water Heater

  1. Turn off unit. Unplug, flip breaker for electric unit.
  2. Shut off gas, extinguish pilot light for gas unit.
  3. Shut off water valve that fills tank.
  4. Attach garden hose to drain valve on tank.
  5. Open the valve.
  6. Open the pressure relief valve.
  7. Drain water into bucket or floor drain. (You may need to empty bucket periodically)
  8. When sediment is out, turn on water valve.
  9. Close the drain valve and pressure relief valve so the tank can refill.

Once you close the tank’s valve, keep an eye on it to ensure it doesn’t leak. Plastic valves or those that haven’t been used in years may not be secure. Even a slow drip can create mold or mildew, so be sure to double check the valve closure.

When To Replace Hot Water Heater

Draining your hot water heater is a fairly simple DIY project that can save money on a replacement unit and your utility bills. If your hot water heater isn’t performing well even after draining the sediment, it may be time for a repair or replacement. If so, check out these warning signs that your hot water heater may be broken.

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