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Drain Your Hot Water Heater

Home Maintenance Tip: How to Drain Your Hot Water Heater

Posted on September 05, 2014

Most people are not aware that performing maintenance on your hot water heater will help it run more efficiently and last longer.

Depending on the quality of your water, there are likely minerals and other sediment that settle to the bottom of your hot water heater. Over time, this sediment accumulates and can compromise the energy efficiency of the water heater.

The sediment can also lead to rust and eventually failure. In addition, if the sediment gets stirred up, it can flow through your water lines and clog shower heads and faucet aerators.


To prevent these issues, drain your hot water heater by following these steps:

  1. Turn off the hot water heater. If you have an electric hot water heater, cut the circuit breaker off. If you have a gas hot water heater, turn the gas switch to “pilot.” Ideally, you would do this the night before you plan to do this task so that you don’t waste energy heating up a tank of hot water that you are going to drain.
  2. Shut off the cold water valve where it enters the water heater.
  3. Turn on the hot water at any faucet in the house to prevent a vacuum from forming in the water line.
  4. Connect a garden hose to the hot water heater drain. Direct the hose to an area away from the house. If your hot water heater is located in the basement, you may need to attach one hose section to a portable pump and another hose section draining away from the house. With all other locations, gravity will assist in draining the hot water heater.
  5. Open the hot water heater drain. Then, open the pressure relief valve. Allow the hot water heater to completely drain. Watch the water that is exiting. If it is clear, then you are done. If not, then, cut the cold water valve at the water heater on and let it run for a few minutes before cutting it off. Drain the tank again. Continue performing this step until the water is clear.
  6. To finish, reverse the steps. Close the drain value and pressure relief valve. Turn off the hot water at the faucet inside the house. Turn on the cold water supply. Wait until the tank is full before turning the power back on for the hot water heater to prevent damage to the water heater.

Ideally, you want to drain your hot water heater on an annual basis. If you don’t feel comfortable performing this task yourself, you can call a professional handyman service.


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