Hot Water Heater 101: Four Steps To Draining Your Tank

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At one point in your lifetime, it is probable that you will need to drain your hot water heater. Sometimes, it needs to be drained to remove sediment that is stuck in the bottom of the heater, lessening its effectiveness. Other times, it may need to be drained for maintenance purposes.

If you need to flush your hot water heater, do not fret. It is a fairly easy task to accomplish and all you need is a garden hose. Once you have your garden hose ready, follow these four steps:

1. Switch the Heating Element Off

The first thing you need to do is turn the heating element to your hot water heater off. This will ensure that you do not get scalded with hot water. It will also prevent electrical accidents—if you have an electric water heater.

To turn the heating element off, flip the switch on your electrical circuit breaker that corresponds to your hot water heater—if you have an electric unit. If you have a gas unit, switch the thermostat on the unit to the setting titled "pilot."

2. Turn off the Water Supply

All hot water heater tanks contain a cold water supply. Before you drain your tank, you must turn this off. Otherwise, you may wind up with a flooding issue.

To turn the water supply off, follow the copper pipe on the top of your tank and look for the shut off valve. If you cannot find the valve, it is possible that it is located elsewhere; in this case, simply turn off the water supply to your home.

3. Prepare for Drainage

Next, attach your garden hose to the tank. Make sure it is attached to the drain valve on your tank, which is located at the bottom. Once attached, put the other end of the hose outside or in a large bucket.

When you are done attaching the hose, turn on the hot water on one of your home's faucets. By turning on a hot water faucet, you will prevent your plumbing from creating a vacuum—which can prevent the water from draining.

4. Drain the Water

Finally, return to your hot water heater tank and open the drain valve. It will be a large valve located at the bottom of your tank. Do not open the pressure relief valve, which is usually located on an upper corner of the tank.

Once the water begins to drain, go outside—or to your bucket—and watch the water as it comes out. At first, the water should be a dark or rusty color. The first water that flows out is the water on the bottom of the tank; and it usually contains sediment. After a few gallons of water have drained, the water should be clear. Once the water runs clear, go back to the tank and switch the drain valve off.

There you have it: simple steps for draining your hot water heater. If you are draining for replacement purposes, do not reconnect the water heater, as a professional will need it to be disconnected to install the new heater.

If you're worried about being able to complete this task properly, it may be best to rely on a professional like Gene's Plumbing.

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25 March 2015

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