How to Drain a Water Heater

Draining your water heater once a year removes sediment from the tank that can cause it to work harder and cost more to use.

The No. 1 cause of water heater failure is sediment buildup in the tank. Sometimes it makes a sizzling, crackling noise when the heating element fires up as it works harder to heat the water. This wastes energy and often requires earlier replacement.

However, you can save money and extend the life of your water heater by draining your tank and flushing away sediment at least once a year.

Flushing a water heater every year can remove a build-up of sediment from the bottom of the tank. That sediment can create a buildup on your water heater’s elements and make it harder for your water to get hot.

Here’s how to go about it:

  • Turn off the gas or electricity to the water heater.
  • Close the cold water supply valve coming into the water heater.
  • Attach a garden hose to the drain at the bottom of the tank.
  • Run the hose outside on the ground.
  • Open the drain valve on the tank.
  • Release the pressure relief valve on top of the tank.
  • Allow the water in the tank to drain out.
  • Once the tank has drained, open the cold water supply valve for a few minutes to flush out any sediment.
  • Close the drain valve and pressure relief valve.
  • Remove the hose from the drain valve.
  • Allow the tank to fill.
  • Turn the power back on or relight the pilot light.

Before sure to also check your thermostat. It should be set at 120°F or lower. A water heater that might have lasted only 10 years could now last 15 or 20 years, or even more.

For more information, see our video on Water Heater Maintenance.

Further Reading