Step-by-Step Guide: How to Drain a Water Heater

If you have a traditional water heater in your house, it’s important to flush the tank every once and a while to prevent sediment buildup. Many types of sediment can enter your water heater via water lines. It might seem like a hassle, but draining a water heater can have many benefits, including increased energy efficiency.

Have you flushed a water heater before? If not, there’s no reason to worry. We have a guide on how to drain a water heater that you can use. While you may be hesitant to take this maintenance task upon yourself, you might be surprised to find that the process is simpler than many homeowners think it will be. All you will need to do is have some supplies on hand.

Are you ready to get started? Below, we will discuss the best way to drain a water heater. We'll break the steps down so that they’re easy for beginners to follow.

How Often Should You Drain a Water Heater?

It’s a good idea to drain your hot water heater at least once a year. Some technicians might recommend you complete this maintenance task twice a year — especially if you have hard water. Hard water contains minerals that can settle in your tank over time, lowering its efficiency and negatively affecting its performance. Failing to maintain your tank can have many consequences, including the need for a Murrieta water heater repair.

How To Flush a Water Heater in 7 Easy Steps

If you’ve been searching for a guide on how to drain a water heater, you might have noticed that the entire process can take several hours to complete. It’s best to schedule some time to perform this maintenance task. Although it is a fairly easy and straightforward process, some steps will require downtime.

Is today the day you’re finally going to flush the water heater tank? Great! Now that you’ve set aside some time, let’s go through the process step by step.

Before we can discuss the best way to drain a water heater, it’s important to ensure you have all the proper equipment readily on hand. You will need a garden hose and, potentially, a large bucket.

1. Turn Off the Power

First and foremost, you’ll need to shut off the power to the water heater. This is a critical step since you risk damaging the heating elements if the unit keeps running.

If you have an electric water heater, you can simply shut off the power at the electric panel. If you have a gas water heater, turn off the gas and switch the unit to “pilot” mode.

2. Shut Off the Water

Next, it’s time to turn off the water supply. You can do this by closing off the water valve that’s connected to the water heater. Once you’ve done this, you’ll want to wait for the water in the tank to cool down as an added precaution; this might take a few hours. But you don’t want to risk hurting yourself!

3. Locate the Drain Valve

The water heater drain valve is typically located at the bottom of the tank. Once you’ve located the drain valve, it’s time to bring out the garden hose. Attach one end of the hose to the drain valve and place the free end in the floor drain. If you don’t have a floor drain, this is where the large bucket can come in handy. As you flush the water heater tank, though, you’ll want to switch out the bucket to ensure it doesn’t overflow.

As you can see, there’s really no “best” way to drain a water heater. If you don’t have a floor drain, you can make do with whatever equipment you have at home.

4. Open the Hot Water Faucets

Go around your home and open all the hot water taps. If you don’t feel like opening every single hot water faucet, you can opt to open one tap that’s located near your water heater. This step will help drain your water heater faster.

5. Start the Draining Process

Now that the water has cooled and you’ve ensured everything is in place, you can finally start the draining process! Open the drain valve and let the water steadily drain out of the tank. This process can vary in length depending on the amount of sediment sitting inside the tank.

6. Remove Any Leftover Sediment

You will know the tank is free of sediment when you see the water flowing clear. If there’s still a hint of sediment in the water, you can refill the tank to restart the flushing process.

Although this can be considered the best way to drain a water heater since it thoroughly helps flush the tank, it may take a few tries — and a lot of patience — to fully remove a larger amount of sediment.

7. Refill Your Water Heater

Once the water runs clear and the tank has been completely flushed, you know you’ve finished draining the tank. It’s time to wrap everything up. Remove the garden hose, close the drain valve, and clean up the area. You’ll also want to turn on the cold water supply to refill the tank and restore power to the water heater.

Schedule Water Heater Services With Our Experts

If the water from your tank is running clear, you’ve successfully followed our guide on how to drain a water heater! Knowing how to flush your tank can help you enjoy an energy-efficient water heater for many years to come.

However, it’s possible that you’ll experience a few bumps in the road that simply can’t be prevented with regular maintenance. Whether your water heater is causing low water pressure or has a faulty pressure relief valve, Guardian Plumbers is here to help with a water heater repair in Murrieta, CA, or the surrounding areas. Reach out to our professionals to see how you can benefit from our services!

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