It’s easy for me to forget about my water heater until it starts showing signs of poor performance. There's nothing like a lukewarm (or ice-cold shower – brrrr) to get me thinking “when’s the last time I drained my water heater?”
Draining your water heater can extend the life of the unit, delaying the need to repair or replace your heater. The process flushes out sediments and other mineral deposits that cause limited heat transfer, corrosion, clogs and other complications.
The good news is that draining your water heater is a relatively simple task that you only have to complete about once a year to maintain its efficiency, as recommended by DIY Network. I think of it the same way I do when I deep clean my appliances. It’s something you don’t think to do, but once completed, you have a wonderful sense of accomplishment. (Ok, maybe I’m the only one that feels that way?!)
Follow these steps to drain your hot water heater:
1. Turn off the water heater
Safety first: Switch off the gas by turning the thermostat to the "pilot" setting. Most electric heaters have their own circuit in the main breaker, so you should be able to switch the unit off on the panel.
2. Shut off the water supply
Turn off the cold-water supply to the heater, usually located at the top of the unit.
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3. Attach a hose to the drain valve
Find the tank drain valve near the bottom of the unit and attach a hose to the opening. Run the hose to a drain, out to the driveway or into a large bucket to collect the water you're about to flush. HomeTips advised placing the end of the hose below the level of the drain valve for smoother draining.
4. Open a faucet in the house
Head back inside to turn on a hot water tap in one of the sinks. This will alleviate pressure and allow the water to drain more quickly from the tank.
5. Open the drain valve
Back at the water heater, you're ready to open the valve and let the water drain. You can twist by hand or use a flathead screwdriver depending on the valve. NOTE: the water leaving the tank will be extremely hot so please exercise caution during this step.
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6. Flush three to four gallons of water
Keep draining until the water exiting the valve runs clear, usually about three to four gallons of water. If the water doesn't get clear, you may need to refill the tank with water and repeat the process until it does.
7. Close the water valve
Close the drain valve and remove the hose.
8. Refill the tank
Turn the water supply valve at the top of the tank back on and let cold water fill up the unit. Check the valve opening for leaks to be sure it's closed properly. Turn the water heater back on and you're all set!
Hot water heater maintenance is a great way to prevent a unit breakdown, but you never know when your home systems might need repair. That's why being prepared for home repairs is always a good strategy. See how plans from HomeServe can help with the costs of covered repairs.