Draining Sediment from Hot Water Heaters

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A task you may not have considered performing in the past but one you should definitely put on your to do list moving forward is the annual draining of your hot water heater. While this chore is not frequently discussed and instead kept out of sight and out of mind much like the hot water heater itself, it is a task worthy of performing and embracing. While your hot water may seem to be running without issue, minerals and sediment could be collecting inside which will over time collect and possibly present a problem. Rather than letting this collection continue, you can eradicate such accumulation by flushing your hot water heater annually. Not doing so means a harder working hot water heater and possibly an increased gas or electric bills associated with it, making a drain and flush worthwhile for more reasons than one! Draining your hot water heater is an easy task that is definitely worth the benefits you will reap after doing so. In the case of hot water heaters, working cleaner means working less hard, so put flushing it on your spring time chore list to start seeing the benefits of a clean hot water heater today!

Photo: Water Heater Hero

Before you start, be sure to locate the power source and turn it off. If your hot water heater is electric, flip the breaker into the off position. If it is gas, turn off the gas at the source. Once your electricity/gas are off, take a hose and attach it to the base of your hot water heater. You may find what looks like a typical faucet or you may find a threaded valve but regardless of which one you have, a standard hose fitting should fit just fine. However, if you prefer, you can use buckets but expect and prepare to switch them out as they fill so as not to make a wet mess as your hot water heater drains. When your hose or buckets are in place, turn off the water source feeding your hot water heater. This should exist in the form of a valve located on the plumbing extending from the top of the hot water heater.

Photo: Mock Plumbing

Photo: Home Owner Care

At this time it is necessary to open the bottom drain valve where your hose or buckets are in place. Once this is open, you will need to find the pressure valve (typically located atop the hot water heater or possibly on the side) and release it. This will prevent a vacuum from forming that can trap water in place inside your hot water heater. By releasing the pressure, you will instead be allowing water to flow freely out of your hot water heater.

Photo: Tarvin Plumbing

Expect the draining process to take several minutes due to the size of your hot water heater. As the flow slows to a trickle, go ahead and turn the water source on once again. This will serve to essentially rinse out your hot water heater, getting the last of the sediment moving out through the hose. Allow this flow of water to continue for a couple of minutes to ensure sediment is gone then turn it off once again.

Your hot water heater should now be successfully free of sediment and minerals and able to work more effectively. At this point in the process, you simply have to backtrack to restore your hot water heater to a functional state by removing your hose, turning the water source back on, turning the power source back on (gas/electricity), etc. Give your hot water about an hour to fill and heat the water inside and it will once again be ready to serve your household faithfully.

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May 14, 2014  •  10:49 PM
I have some issues with the proper way to drain a heater. First if it is electric deffinately turn off power. If is is gas turn thermostat to vacation. If you have a week thermocouple and you turn off gas it might not turn back on. Also never open the t and p valve. It should be replaced every five years but if you open it it more than likely will start toleak then you will have to replace. After you hook up your hose go in house and open a couple of faucets on the hot side this will let air in system. When tank is full bleed air out at a bathtub so you dont clog faucets. On both gas and electric make sure air is out of tank before energizing water heater. Not hot water heater. If water was already hot there would be no need to heat it. Also if you are draining heater it is a good idea to check anode rod in tank .

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