Tank water heaters are a reliable way to provide a fast supply of hot water for your home. The presence of a storage tank ensures some hot water is readily available. But over time, foreign substances may accumulate within the storage tank. This may be sediment or mineral buildup coming from the main water line or a flaw in the pipes. Whatever the source is, this buildup can reduce the efficiency of water heaters. In severe cases it can plug up drainage and could even cause premature failure.
Thankfully, draining your water heater and removing sediment buildup is a relatively simple task. A certified plumber in the U.S. can handle the process, but you can also drain the tank on your own if you know what you’re doing. Whatever you choose, draining the tank now can help lower the risk you’ll need premature water heater replacement.
Before you start draining the tank, you’ll need to shut off the cold water supply. The supply valve connects your water heater with the main water line. Unless you have access to a well (and you might need to drain the tank more regularly if you do), the water main delivers all the potable water your home uses. Keeping the valve sealed will prevent more water from entering the tank, allowing you to completely drain it.
You’ll also want to have a rubber hose, like one you would use for yard work. The hose allows you to safely drain the water heater tank without spilling water in your garage, utility closet, attic or wherever the water heater is kept. Make sure you leave the other end of the hose far away from your home to prevent the water from flowing back inside.
Finally, a screwdriver should help you loosen stubborn screws or valves. You shouldn’t need any more tools than this unless you discover a problem with the water heater or adjacent piping. At that point, it may be best to hire a certified plumber in the U.S..
After you’ve turned off the water supply, you can shut off the water heater itself. This should be on the thermostat for natural gas water heaters or via a breaker switch for electric models. The pilot setting on gas water heaters can continue to stay on during flushing, but electric models need to be completely off. This is due to the heating elements electric water heaters use, which remain submerged. In a drained tank, they could quickly overheat. You should also review the model’s manual, as some water heaters need to be completely full before the heating elements are started.
Even after you’ve shut off the water heater, you’ll need to wait for the water stored in the tank to cool down. It may be hours before the water cools to a safe temperature, so it may be best to leave the remaining steps for the following day.
Tank water heaters are designed with a drain valve you can use to empty the storage tank. Once you’re confident the water supply is disconnected and the water heater itself is off, locate the drain valve. Some models will have it covered up. Make sure the hose is securely fastened to prevent spilling hot water near you and the water heater.
Your home’s plumbing uses pressure within the piping to deliver a consistent flow of water from the main water line to the rest of the house. This pressure will have to be relieved before the hot water can actually exit the tank. By heading to the nearest faucet or spigot, you’ll release the pressure inside the piping. All you have to do is open the hot water tap to relieve the pressure before heading back to the water heater.
Remember that this water may still have some residual heat. Open the drain valve and allow all the water to drain from the tank. This should pull sediment buildup out of the tank and away from your home. But some buildup may be stuck to the inside of the tank. Turning the cold water supply back on will help flush stubborn minerals and other substances from the tank.
Repeat this step until the water appears free of sediment or minerals. If the drain isn’t working because of an obstruction, a trained plumber may be required.
If everything proceeds like it’s supposed to, you should be able to clear out most excess sediment stuck inside your water heater. Close the drain valve, disconnect the hose and open the water supply to get things working again. As the water heater tank starts to fill, head back to the hot water tap you opened. Once cold water starts to flow, you know the pressure is back at appropriate levels.
At this point, you can open the gas valve or flip the breaker switch back on. Like we mentioned earlier, don’t forget that some models may need to be totally full before the water can be safely heated. Make sure you look through your manufacturer’s instructions before starting the process.
Tank water heaters continue to be a great option for supplying your hot water needs. Draining the tank every 1-2 years will help remove sediment buildup and keep things running at maximum efficiency. If you think your water heater is past the point of efficient heating, consider looking for water heater replacement in the U.S. from a technician you trust.
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance it’s because you just had a breathtakingly cold shower or turned on the faucet to find no hot water. It’s an annoying situation, but don’t fret. Learning the most frequent causes of no hot water is the first step toward finding a remedy. Here... Continue reading
Heat pump water heaters, also referred to as hybrid water heaters, are a revolutionary and environmentally friendly solution that might be well suited for your household’s hot water needs. Dig into the inner workings of these distinct units and explore their pros and cons to help you decide if a... Continue reading
Depending on where you live, mild weather or extreme cold may be typical during the winter months. Regardless, your water heater has to work harder when the temperature drops outside the house. This prompts the question — can water heaters freeze? Although very rare, it’s certainly not... Continue reading
© 2023 Service Experts, Service Experts Heating & Air Conditioning, and the Service Experts logo and design are registered trademarks of Service Experts LLC and used under license by SE Canada Inc. All Rights Reserved. *Not applicable to the Advantage Program. See your signed Advantage Program Agreement for full details and exclusions. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee is subject to certain restrictions and limitations as set forth in the applicable Terms and Conditions.