How to Drain a Water Heater: 6 Easy Steps [Video]

By Mengning Heil

October 22, 2021

Water Heater Tips

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Is your shower getting cut short because you are running out of hot water faster than before? Does your water take a long time to heat up? Are your energy bills increasing with the same amount of use? You could be past due for some basic water heater maintenance.

Taking the time to learn how to drain a water heater (and even clean it) is well worth it for a number of reasons. Natural sediment buildup impacts the efficiency of most water heaters, causing your appliance to work harder to produce the hot water you need. Moreover, if left unaddressed, hard water deposits can eventually eat away at your tank leaving you with discolored water or worse, a leak.

Although it only needs to be performed every 12 to 18 months, draining and cleaning your water heater will often prolong the life of your appliance, saving you money and a potential plumbing emergency. So let’s dive in and discuss how to drain a water heater.

Before Getting Started

Before undertaking any DIY plumbing project within your home, it is always important to locate your home’s emergency water shut off valve in case you need to quickly cut off all water to your home.

Next, make sure you have the tools you may need for this project: 1) a hose; 2) a flathead screwdriver; 3) a bucket (if applicable).

How to Drain a Water Heater

1. Turn off the water supply to the water heater. You can do this by locating and closing the valve that is on top of the water heater.

2. Next, you will need to turn off the power to your water heater. If you have an electric water heater, it can be turned off at your home’s breaker box. If you have a gas water heater you will need to switch the thermostat to the “pilot” setting.

3. Once the power is off, the water will still be extremely hot. It is important to let the water cool for at least a few hours.

4. After the water has had time to cool, you will need to locate the drain valve, which is typically found towards the bottom of the tank. Thread a standard garden hose onto the drain valve. The other end of the hose can be placed either outside, in a floor drain, or in a bucket; simply put, wherever you want the water to end up. It may go without saying, but if you choose to use a bucket, you will need to watch the bucket carefully so that it does not overflow when draining your tank.

how to drain a water heater
Connect your hose to the drain valve.

5. If in a multi-story home, turn on a hot water tap on the floor directly above where your water heater is located. If in a single-story home, go to the sink closest to your water heater and turn on the hot water. This will help relieve pressure, which will assist in faster draining.

6. Lastly, open the drain valve on the water heater (this may require a flat-head screwdriver), and begin to drain the tank. If you are draining the tank into a bucket, you will have to close the drain valve whenever the bucket is full, empty the bucket and repeat.

There is a possibility that sediment could block the opening of the drain valve, making it difficult to drain the water. If this is the case, it is recommended to call an expert. If you are looking for a trustworthy plumber in Rockville, MD who can assist with water heater repair & installations contact us today!

That’s all there is to know about how to drain a water heater.

How to Clean a Hot Water Heater

Now that we have covered how to drain a water heater, it is also important to discuss how to clean a hot water heater.

1. When draining you may notice that the water is visibly dirty. If so, once the tank has drained, turn the cold water supply to the tank back on. This will stir up the mineral deposits on the bottom and sides of the tank and allow you to remove more sediment.

2. Continue to alternate between draining and refilling with cold water until the water that is coming out is clean.

3. Once the water is running clear, turn the water valve off one last time. Remove the hose and ensure that the drain valve is completely closed. The cold water can then be turned back on so the water heater can refill.

4. Lastly, turn the power to the water heater back on to allow your water to begin reheating.

How Long Does it Take to Drain a Water Heater

This simple DIY plumbing task should only take you a few hours. The majority of the time spent on this task is waiting for the water to cool off, which does not require you to be present. The actual task of draining the water heater may only take about an hour. This quick and easy task ensures that you can maintain both your long hot showers and your water heater for years to come!

If you ever find yourself in a fix and need water heater repair in Jessup or the surrounding areas, connect with a trustworthy plumber in Jessup, MD by contacting Heil Plumbing today.

Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including sewer line repair, leak detection and pipe repair, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, and water heater repair in Baltimore County and the surrounding areas.