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How to Drain a Hot Water Heater

It might be pretty easy to take your home’s hot water unit for granted until it malfunctions and you end up in a cold shower. Worse still, it might stop working completely, and you end up with water pools all over your floor. Luckily, water heaters do not need a lot of care, but draining them more often may help keep them running efficiently.

The frequency at which sediment accumulates in your heater varies depending on the level of mineral content in the incoming water, the amount of water you use, and how hot your family keeps the water. That means it’s pretty hard to make a sweeping generalization about the frequency of descaling and flushing your water heating unit.

Every manufacturer, plumber, and water heater expert recommends draining water heaters because of the numerous benefits it offers. You will enjoy better performance, desired power output, efficiency, safer operation, longer heater life, and energy savings. This article will highlight the steps you need to follow when draining and cleaning your water heater tank and what to expect during the process.

1. Know the Right Time To Drain Your Tank

One of the first things you need to know about water heaters is when you should drain your unit’s tank. You can regularly check the user manual provided to get guidelines about the right timing for draining the tank. Most manufacturers recommend draining hot water tanks once a year at least.

Draining your water heater tank usually assists in clearing out sediment and other particles that settle at the tank’s bottom. Sediment can be a problem since it reduces the cleanliness and quality of the hot water. It also makes it extremely difficult for the tank to heat your water. If sediment and other particles settle in your pipes, they can cause clogs that require repairs to unblock the pipes. Therefore, draining your tank will enhance your hot water’s quality and lower your energy costs.

2. Turn Off the Water Connection and Your Heater

To ensure your safety when draining your tank, you need to turn off the power. For gas tanks, just turn the unit to pilot mode. If you’ve got an electric tank, flip the switch. It is also safe to allow the water to cool down before you start draining. You can turn on some of your faucets or take a shower to remove the hot water from the tank.

Next, locate your cold water supply. Trip the lever or turn the knob to turn off your water supply. You can safely proceed with the other steps with the power and water turned off.

3. Attach a Suitable Drain Line

You’ll need to attach a good drain line unless your water heater tank is located outside in a well-drained area. This step can be as easy as twisting the garden hose onto your drain and then run it outside. You might need to connect the garden hose to your pump if the tank is in a low-level area like in the basement. That will help reduce the gravity and will easily push away the extra water. A cleanout, a shower floor drain, or any other place connecting to a good drainage point can be a good point for the hose’s end.

4. Check the Pressure Relief Valve and Flush Your Drain

Check the pressure relief valve to ensure it is working before flushing your drain. If you notice any problems with the pressure relief valve or your water heater, you might need to inspect the valve earlier than scheduled. Place a bucket beneath the valve, and pull the lever up on top of your valve. You should see water expel via the overflow pipe, or you will hear air hiss.

Next, go to the drain valve, open it for several seconds, and close it. You can repeat this part of the process several times. This high-pressure burst will help push sediment and other particles through the valve, draining the tank more quickly.

5. Open the Drain Valve

After positioning your garden hose in a place where you can easily dump huge amounts of water, open the tank’s drain valve. If you notice the water is leaking out too slowly, you probably have some vacuum forming in the pipes. Opening one of your hot water faucets in your house will help break any vacuum in the pipes and will allow the water to flow out faster.

6. Flush Your Tank

After draining the water, you need to use fresh cold water to remove any remaining sediment from the tank. Turn on the cold water for several seconds while the power to your tank is still off. Give the water enough time to flow into your tank, and turn off the cold water. Run some cold water through, and allow it to drain several times to completely flush your tank. The short bursts of the high-pressure water will break any sediment clogs remaining in the tank. Once the water begins running clear, it’s time to drain the water heater.

7. Refill Your Tank

Refill the water heater, remove your garden hose on the drain, and then close your drain valve. Also, turn off any hot water faucets you had on. Turn on your cold water supply, and allow your tank to fill up. Restore the tank’s power so that it can begin heating the water again. If you’ve got a gas tank, relight the pilot light to warm your water.

8. Tighten All the Valves

The tank-draining process’s last step involves ensuring all the adjusted valves get restored to their leak-proof positions. If the pressure relief valve is on, turn it back to its initial position. However, if you have older plastic drain valves, there is a small chance they might not close completely again. If that’s the case, you might see a slow and steady drip from your valve. You can contact your plumbing contractor to replace the valve with a stronger one. Meanwhile, you can place a cap on it to stop the drips.

Final Words

Sediment buildup in your water heater can make the appliance work extra harder to heat your water, utilizing more energy that will cost you lots of money to run. As you have seen, the process of draining your unit is pretty easy, and you can do it yourself. However, there’s no set number of times to flush the heater or a timetable to follow to get the best outcome. All the factors are solely dependent on your specific water heater.

There is no drawback to regularly draining your heater’s tank. This simple task has numerous benefits, with the most crucial one being the durability of your heater. One of the best ways to maintain your appliance, leading to its longevity, is to schedule routine maintenance on the unit with a professional from Rite Way Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

Our plumbing experts can teach you how to check sediment accumulation in your appliance and offer complete water heater draining and sediment removal services according to your needs. If you are a resident of Tucson, AZ, or the surrounding regions, we are also specialists in other various services, including home water quality, plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and home air quality. Contact us today for water heater flushing or any of the services mentioned above, and our experts will be glad to help.