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When was the last time you drained the water from your hot water heater?

Having hot water is considered a necessity, but it is also something we take for granted until we no longer have any. It only takes one cold shower to realize why maintaining the equipment that delivers this need is an essential task.

If you want to prolong the service life of a traditional tank-based water heater, one of the best steps you can take is to drain the unit. This step helps to remove sediment buildup, ensuring the appliance can perform better and use less energy to operate.

You’ll typically drain a hot water heater tank once per year. If you have hard water, it is better to do it twice per year or once per quarter to prevent buildup.

How to Drain a Hot Water Heater Quickly

The fastest way to drain your hot water heater is to use a small section of garden hose that has a fitting that connects to your drain valve. It’s usually the same one used for the bib.

You’ll need to direct the water flow from the hose into a floor drain, bucket, or safe outside area.

If you have a gas unit, you’ll need to turn off the fuel and extinguish your pilot light. Electric models need to get unplugged or have the breaker flipped at the panel.

Since sediment tends to be at the tank’s bottom, you can usually remove about 25% of the water to flush the system. You’ll also eliminate the risk of turning on the appliance without any fluids in it and the damage that comes with it.

These steps will help you know how to drain a hot water heater quickly.

  1. Turn off the water valve that supplies the fluid to the tank.
  2. Attach the hose to your drain valve and open it.
  3. Open the pressure relief valve.
  4. Allow the water to drain into a bucket, drain, or another safe location.
  5. Turn on the water supply valve, letting the fluid continue running through the hose until it becomes clear.
  6. Close the drain and pressure relief valves.
  7. Turn the power on or supply gas once the tank is full.
  8. If you have a gas water heater, you’ll need to reignite the pilot light.

How to Drain a Hot Water Heater When It Won’t Drain

If you need to drain a hot water heater and nothing is coming through the hose, you probably have a clogged valve. This issue occurs because too much sediment is built up in the tank.

The severity of this issue can range from a severe problem to a minor inconvenience. If you leave the concern unintended, you’ll need to purchase a new water heater eventually.

That’s why knowing how to remove the clog can help you get the tank drained and usable again. Here are some ideas to try if you’re having problems.

  • Wait for the water pressure to work. If you leave the drain valve open while keeping the hose attached, the water’s weight and pressure can eventually clear the clog by itself. It might take 60+ minutes to work.
  • Use a wire coat hanger. Insert a stiff wire through the valve opening into the tank. Move it around in circular motions to loosen the debris that stops the water from leaving. If it clogs again, repeat the process until everything is drained.
  • Stomp on the hose. When you have the hose attached to the drain valve, stomp on it firmly from about 2-3 feet from the unit. This action causes an air bubble to force its way back into the tank, potentially unclogging the valve. Repeat as needed.
  • Use the backflushing method. Use a washing machine fill hose for this step because it has female connections on both ends. Close the drain valve, connect the hose, and attach the other to a threaded faucet or garden hose. Turn on the water at the faucet, open the drain valve, and allow the fluid to move for up to 15 seconds. Then complete the steps in reverse to start the draining process.

If none of those ideas worked to get the water heater tank drained, it is time to replace the valve. Your locally trusted plumber can perform this task while the unit is full when they follow the correct steps.

Knowing how to drain a hot water heater can extend this appliance’s lifespan considerably. When it is part of the spring-cleaning chores you complete each year, you’ll discover that it only takes a few minutes to maximize the investment you made for this essential resource.