Hot water heaters often lose efficiency over time, often due to sediment buildup inside the tank from hard water. If this occurs, you can follow these steps to drain your hot water heater, repeating this process about once a year to keep your energy bill from climbing, as well as to prolong the life of your heater.
Shut Off Supply
Before you begin, shut off your fuel and water supply. For an electric hot water heater, you should also shut off the breaker that powers the unit. On gas water heaters, turn the knob to “pilot,” so the pilot light will stay lit, but the burners won’t turn on while the tank is empty. Next, locate the water supply valve and turn it off. Open at least one hot water tap in your home to keep air pressure normalized while you work.
Drain and Rinse the Tank
First, let the tank sit for a few hours, so the water can cool off. Then, it’s time to drain the tank with these steps:
- Attach a garden hose to the drain spigot located near the bottom of your tank.
- Place the other end of the hose in a floor drain, utility sink, or outdoor area. Make sure the end is either located lower than the tank itself or is attached to a pump.
- Open the pressure relief valve and the drain valve, allowing all of the water to drain out.
- Then, turn on the water supply in short bursts to help flush sediment.
- Continue flushing the tank until the water runs clear, and then close the drain valve.
Check Essential Functions
Before you re-fill the tank and turn it back on, check the heating element and the pressure valve. Any heating elements that are visibly encrusted with minerals must be replaced. You should also ensure that air and water is flowing through the pressure relief valve before closing the household hot water tap and restoring the water and fuel supply to the heater.
For more expert advice on how to drain a hot water heater, or for additional water heater troubleshooting and maintenance help, contact Team Bob’s Heating Cooling Plumbing. We serve Grand Traverse County and the surrounding areas.
Our goal is to help educate our customers in Traverse City, Michigan and surrounding areas about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). For more information about water heaters and other HVAC topics, download our free Home Comfort Resource guide.
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