How to Drain a Hot Water Heater

If you own a water heater, knowing how to drain it will be necessary. The exact methods may vary, but the following is a general guide on how to drain a hot water heater.

Step 1

Turn off the heating element in the water tank. If you own a gas water heater, set the thermostat to “pilot”. If it is an electric water heater, turn the breaker off on the control panel.

Step 2

Shut down the cold water supply for the tank. In all likelihood, the tank has a shut down or turn off feature built in. This is on the copper pipe at the tank top. In a few instances, the main water supply has to be shut down.

Step 3

Connect a garden hose onto the bottom drain valve. Next, you have to run the hose onto a drain.

Step 4

Turn on a faucet that can produce hot water. This is necessary so a vacuum does not appear in the lines.

Step 5

To drain a hot water heater, go back to the tank. Find the drain valve. You can find this by the bottom of the tank. Open it. Note that there is another valve close to the side or top. That is a pressure relief valve. Do not disturb it.

Step 6

Water will come out of the tank. Assess its color. Initially, the water will look dark or even rusty. Wait for a few gallons to get drained. The water will become clearer.

Step 7

When the water becomes clear, close the drain valve. Turn the hot water faucet off.

Step 8

Turn on the cold water supply. Give the tank time to fill up. When the tank is filled, turn on the gas supply or power.

How Often Should I Drain the Water?

Draining the water once a year should be sufficient. But other units may require more frequent draining. Check the product specifications for details.

Why Draining is Necessary

Draining is necessary because sediment can build up in electric and gas water heaters. Over time this can affect the performance of your heater. It can also shorten its lifespan. By draining the tank, you will get rid of the sediment.


Read the product description before draining it. The method described above will work most of the time. But some models will require specific procedures and processes.

Always wear eye goggles and gloves when you drain a hot water heater. Wearing protective gear can protect you from the intense heat.

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