Traditional water heaters store lots of hot water for when you need it. A water heater tank can also contain other unwanted materials. Sand, grit, and sediment from minerals in your water supply can reduce tank capacity and water heater efficiency. Draining the unit regularly can slow down wear and tear. We’ll now explain when and how to drain a water heater tank of sediment.
When Should I Drain My Water Heater?
Gas and electric water heaters should be flushed at least once every year. Drain your system more frequently if you have hard water or high sediment levels in your local water supply. Cracking and popping sounds from a gas water heater can mean sediment is interfering with the burners. A professional can drain your water heater during an annual maintenance call. In any case, failing to do so can cause the appliance to fail prematurely.
How to Drain a Water Heater Yourself
Flushing a water heater can improve efficiency, provide cleaner water, and extend the unit’s life. Here’s how to safely drain the tank:
- Turn Off the Water Heater: Turn off the power switch and circuit breaker so the water heater isn’t receiving electricity. If you have a gas water heater, turn off the gas valve. Electric water heaters must be off as well. Their heating elements can burn out if the water level drops below them when the unit is on. Even after you shut the system off, the water may be scalding hot, so wait a few hours or let the unit sit overnight.
- Test the Pressure Relief Valve: The valve is a safety feature that releases pressure as water is heated, preventing the tank from bursting. It’s located on the cold water supply line. To begin the test, place a bucket below the valve and then trip the lever. If you hear air or water drains from the valve, it’s working correctly. If nothing happens, call a technician to replace the pressure relief valve.
- Connect a Hose to the Drain Valve: The drain valve is usually close to the bottom of the water heater tank. Thread a garden hose to the drain valve and run it to a bucket, floor drain, or out to the driveway or street gutter. If using a bucket, be careful not to be scalded by hot water.
- Let the Hot Water Run: Open a faucet or two in your home (preferably a hot water tap closest to the water heater on the next floor up). This prevents pipe damage due to pressure that can build up as water drains quickly from the tank.
- Open the Drain Valve: Opening the drain valve allows hot water to exit the tank. Avoid contact with it to prevent burns. Examine the water for sediment. If it’s still full of sediment or looks cloudy, refill the water heater by running cold water and allow it to continue draining. If sediment has settled at the bottom of the tank, stir it up by turning the shut-off valve on and off.
- Wait Until the Water Is Clear: Continue refilling and draining the tank until there’s no more sediment. If there’s an excessive amount of sediment, a water filtration or treatment system can help. A professional can advise you on the right solution for your home. Call for help if sediment blocks the opening of the drain valve; it must be removed to create a larger opening for sediment to escape.
- Turn the Unit Back On: Close the taps once the water is clear, and then close the drain valve. You can now turn on the cold water supply and return the pressure-relief valve to its original position. Close the hot water faucets you turned on, disconnect the hose, and restore power to the water heater. Some air may be released through the faucets, but otherwise, normal water flow should resume within a few seconds.
The Importance of Draining a Water Heater
Flushing the tank improves performance and can help ensure a steady hot water supply. It can also decrease your energy bills, reduce or eliminate noise, and improve water quality. Draining a water heater is a DIY task. But if you’re not confident enough or the unit’s performance doesn’t improve after flushing, contact a professional to check for any problems to fix.
Sky Knows How to Drain a Water Heater
We provide water heater maintenance to customers in the Portland area. Regular maintenance involves flushing a water heater and making small repairs to improve performance and safety. If your water heater suddenly develops problems or stops working, you can reach us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for help. To request assistance or schedule water heater maintenance, call 888-961-4282 today.