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

To drain a water heater, turn off the power or gas supply, connect a hose to the drain valve, and direct the water to a drain or outside. If you have a water heater that has not been drained for a long time, sediment and other debris can build up inside, causing it to work less effectively and ultimately reduce its lifespan.

Draining the water heater regularly can help prevent this and extend its lifespan. Fortunately, draining a water heater is a fairly straightforward process that can be done by homeowners themselves. In this article, we will go over how to drain a water heater and why it’s important to do so.

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


Tools And Equipment Required

List Of Tools And Equipment That Will Be Needed

In order to drain a water heater properly, there are a few tools and pieces of equipment that you will need. Some of these tools are essential and cannot be skipped over, while others will make the process easier and safer.

Here is a list of the necessary tools and equipment:

  • Bucket or hose
  • Gloves and protective eyewear
  • Screwdriver or pliers
  • Pipe wrench or adjustable wrench
  • Garden hose (optional)

Explanation Of Why Each Tool Is Necessary

  • Bucket or hose: You will need a way to catch the water as it comes out of the water heater. A bucket is a simple and effective option, while a hose can be attached to the drain valve and directed outside or into a nearby drain.
  • Gloves and protective eyewear: Safety should always be a top priority when working with water heaters. Gloves will protect your hands from hot water, while protective eyewear will shield your eyes from any debris or splashes.
  • Screwdriver or pliers: You will need a tool to open the drain valve. A screwdriver or pliers will allow you to easily turn the valve and start the draining process.
  • Pipe wrench or adjustable wrench: The heating element and anode rod may need to be removed during the draining process. In order to do this, you will need a pipe wrench or adjustable wrench to turn the bolts.
  • Garden hose (optional): If you choose to use a hose to direct the water outside or into a drain, a garden hose will be necessary.

Safety Precautions To Be Observed When Handling The Equipment

Even though draining a water heater may seem like a simple process, safety is paramount when handling the tools and equipment. Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Always wear gloves and protective eyewear to prevent any burns or debris from getting into your eyes.
  • Turn off the electricity or gas supply to the water heater before starting the draining process.
  • Be careful when moving the water heater and placing the bucket underneath the drain valve. The water can be extremely hot and heavy.
  • Do not touch the heating element or anode rod with your bare hands. These components can be extremely hot and cause burns.
  • Use a pipe wrench or adjustable wrench to remove the heating element or anode rod. Do not try to force them out with your hands.
  • If using a hose to direct the water outside or into a drain, ensure that the hose is properly secured and does not have any leaks.

By following these safety precautions and using the necessary tools and equipment, you can successfully drain your water heater with ease and without any mishaps.

Steps To Draining A Water Heater

Shutting Off The Power Source To The Water Heater

Before starting to drain your water heater, shut off the power source to avoid the risk of electrocution. The power source can either be a fuse box or a circuit breaker box. Locate the breaker or fuse that controls the water heater and turn it off.

If you’re unable to find the breaker, turn off the main power to your home.

Preparation To Drain The Water Heater

To prevent water wastage and avoid any potential mess, turn off the cold water supply to the heater. Turn on hot water taps in your bathroom and kitchen to prevent a vacuum from forming in the lines. This will help push out any water remaining in the heater.

Give the water a few minutes to cool down, then proceed with the draining process.

How To Locate The Drain Valve On The Water Heater

The drain valve is usually located at the bottom of your water heater, on the side of the tank. It might be covered in a plastic cap or a metal handle. Locate the valve and determine if it has a hose connection.

How To Attach A Hose To The Drain Valve

To attach a hose to the drain valve, you will need a garden hose and a pair of pliers. Connect the hose to the valve, then use the pliers to tighten it. Make sure that the end of the hose is away from any traffic areas before draining water from the heater.

Addressing Issues With Sediment Buildup Before Draining

Loose mineral deposits or sediment may accumulate and collect in the bottom of your tank, causing operational issues and reducing the heater’s efficiency. Some models may have an anti-sediment rod that helps prevent buildup. It is crucial to address any sediment buildup prior to draining the water to ensure efficient performance.

How To Open The Drain Valve To Start Draining The Water Heater

Open the drain valve by turning it counterclockwise. The water will start flowing through the hose attached to the drain valve. Make sure the hose leads outside or into a nearby drain. Also, ensure that the hose is away from anything that can be damaged by hot water or drainage.

Flushing Out The Water Heater Completely

Once the valve is open, the water heater will begin to drain. Leave the valve open until water stops flowing out of the hose or until the tank is empty. To clean any sediment or mineral deposits, you can also flush the heater by turning on the cold water supply to the heater and letting it drain for a few minutes.

How To Close The Drain Valve When Finished

Once the water tank is empty and any sediment buildup has been addressed, close the drain valve by turning it clockwise. Ensure that it is tightly closed to prevent water leaks. Turn the cold water supply back on and let the heater refill until water comes out of the hot water taps.

Finally, turn on the heater’s power source and wait for it to heat the water to the desired temperature.

By following these steps, you can easily and safely drain and flush out your water heater, ensuring your plumbing system operates at its best.

Common Problems And Solutions

Draining your water heater is an essential maintenance task that can help to extend the lifespan of equipment and improve efficiency, but sometimes things don’t always go as planned. In this section of ‘how to drain a water heater: a step-by-step guide’, we’ll cover common problems that can arise during the draining process and solutions for fixing them.

Troubleshooting Tips For Common Problems Such As Clogged Drain Valve Or Sediment Buildup

During the draining process, you may come across various issues, but we’ve provided solutions for some of the most common ones:

  • Clogged drain valve: If the drain valve is clogged with sediment, you can try clearing it by following these steps:
  • Turn off the water heater and allow it to cool down before proceeding.
  • Place a bucket under the valve to collect excess water.
  • Open the valve using a wrench or pliers and observe the flow rate of the water. If there is no flow, you can use a wire to free any blockages in the valve.
  • Once the water starts flowing, you can proceed with draining the tank.
  • Sediment buildup: Over time, sediment can accumulate at the bottom of the water heater tank, making it challenging to drain all the water. Try these steps to clear the sediment buildup:
  • Turn off the water heater and allow it to cool.
  • Attach a hose to the drain valve and run it outside to avoid any mess.
  • Open the drain valve and let the water run out of the tank.
  • Once the water has stopped draining, turn on the cold water supply to the tank and stir up the sediment by opening the hot water spigot in the house.
  • Repeat the draining process until clean water comes out of the tank.

How To Fix Problems That Arise During The Draining Process

The draining process can also bring about new issues. However, you can fix most problems that arise by following these simple instructions:

  • Leaking drain valve: If you notice water leaking from the valve after draining the tank, you can tighten it using a wrench.
  • Stuck drain valve: If the valve is stuck, lubricate the threads and try turning it again.
  • Noisy pipes: Sometimes, draining the water heater can cause the pipes to make noise. To prevent this, try partially closing the valve to regulate the water flow.
  • Slow draining: If water is draining out too slowly, try opening the hot water tap in the house to release any airlocks.
  • Restricted flow: A restricted flow may occur if the hose connected to the drain valve is kinked or otherwise damaged. Inspect the hose and straighten it as needed.

Being aware of the common problems that may arise during the draining process and learning how to fix them is essential for maintaining your water heater. The tips and solutions we’ve outlined will help you to troubleshoot any issues and ensure that your water heater works efficiently and reliably for years to come.

How Often Should A Water Heater Be Drained

Are you wondering how often you should drain your water heater? It’s a common question that homeowners ask, and for good reason! Not draining your water heater can lead to sediment buildup, rust, and a shorter lifespan for your heater.

Here’s what you need to know:

Explanation Of How Often Water Heaters Should Be Drained

Water heaters should be drained at least once a year. However, the frequency of draining can vary depending on a few factors.

Factors That Contribute To The Frequency Of Draining A Water Heater

  • Water hardness: Areas with hard water may require more frequent draining due to mineral buildup.
  • Heater age: Older water heaters may need to be drained more often since sediment accumulation can be more severe.
  • Usage: Households with more occupants or higher hot water usage may need to drain their water heater more frequently.

Tips For Remembering To Drain A Water Heater On A Regular Basis

  • Set a reminder: Use your electronic calendar or a sticky note to remind yourself to drain your water heater.
  • Schedule it annually: Mark down an annual date to drain your water heater, so you don’t forget.
  • Involve a professional: Consider hiring a plumber or hvac technician to drain your water heater for you on a regular schedule.

By following these simple guidelines, you can avoid sediment buildup and extend the life of your water heater. Don’t forget to consult your manufacturer’s recommendations and consult with a professional if needed.

Frequently Asked Questions For How To Drain A Water Heater

What Tools Do I Need To Drain A Water Heater?

To drain a water heater, you’ll need a garden hose, adjustable wrench, screwdriver, and safety goggles. The garden hose must be long enough to reach the drain valve.

How Often Should I Drain My Water Heater?

You should drain your water heater at least once a year to remove sediment that may cause it to malfunction. If you live in an area with hard water, you may need to do it more frequently.

Can I Drain A Water Heater Myself?

Yes, you can drain a water heater yourself. However, if you’re not comfortable doing it or don’t have the necessary tools, you can hire a professional plumber to do it for you.

How Long Does It Take To Drain A Water Heater?

It typically takes 30-60 minutes to drain a water heater. However, the time it takes depends on the size of your water heater and how much sediment is built up inside it.

Will Draining A Water Heater Save Me Money?

Yes, draining a water heater can save you money. Sediment buildup can cause your water heater to work harder and use more energy, which can increase your utility bills. Draining it regularly can improve its efficiency and extend its lifespan.

Is It Necessary To Turn Off The Power Before Draining A Water Heater?

If you have an electric water heater, it’s important to turn off the power before draining it to avoid the risk of electrocution. If you have a gas water heater, you should turn the gas valve to “pilot” before draining it.


Now that you have learned how to drain a water heater, it’s important to keep in mind that doing this annually can extend the lifespan of your heater and save you from unexpected expenses due to damages. Always remember to take precautionary measures before starting the process, such as turning off the power supply, ensuring the unit has cooled down, and using protective gear.

It’s also essential to flush out any sediment build-up to prevent clogging and ensuring the efficiency of the heating system. As you go through the steps, inspect the unit for any signs of wear and tear or issues that may need fixing, to avoid costly repairs down the line.

By following the steps above, you’re investing in your water heater’s longevity and making sure you have a sustainable, energy-efficient heating system in your home.