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How to Drain a Water Heater

Nov 3, 2022 | How-To

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A water heater is a specialized appliance that’s used to heat and store water for later use. It can be powered by electricity, natural gas, propane, or solar power. Water heaters are typically large cylindrical tanks that hold around 40 liters of heated water. Even though the size of most residential units is standardized at 45 gallons (160 liters), there are smaller models available as well. They usually have one single copper pipe at the bottom through which the hot water flows out and another connected to it through which cold water enters. The purpose of this setup is to make sure that the temperature difference between incoming and outgoing liquid never gets too big while still maximizing energy efficiency as much as possible.

How Do Water Heaters Work?

Water heaters function by heating the water in a large, cylindrical tank using either gas or electricity. The heated water is then stored inside the tank until it is needed. When hot water is called into use, it flows out through a pipe at the bottom of the unit and travels to its destination through additional pipes connected to that one. Meanwhile, cold tap water enters the system through another pipe and mixes with the remaining heated liquid inside so that they do not get too far apart in temperature.

This setup enables users to enjoy unlimited amounts of hot water on demand without needing to worry about running out before their shower or bath is over. However, it also comes with an important drawback, namely, these tanks lose a significant amount of heat when they are refilled with cold water, which makes them ineffective as a source of hot water for heating purposes.

Many homeowners choose to address this problem by installing an additional tankless heater in their homes. These devices work by heating water on an as-needed basis rather than storing it in a large reservoir, thus reducing the amount of energy that is lost while the system is waiting for more heated liquid to arrive. However, these systems can be quite expensive and require more maintenance than conventional tanks do, particularly if they are used regularly at high capacities.

Importance of a Water Heater

Water heaters are often overlooked when it comes to maintaining a comfortable home. They can easily be taken for granted, and most people do not notice them until they go wrong. It is important that homeowners ensure their water heater is in good working order and properly maintained, as this will keep the flow of hot water constant and prevent any unpleasant surprises at an inopportune time, such as during a shower or bath.

A water heater may seem like a simple appliance, but it plays a key role in heating the water that we use every day. Whether you are drinking piping-hot coffee before heading out for work each morning or taking a relaxing bath after a long day at the office, the hot water from your tap allows you to enjoy the comforts of everyday life.

How to Drain a Water Heater

At first glance, draining a water heater might seem relatively easy, but there are certain things you need to know. The most important thing is that the water heater needs to cool down first, otherwise you could seriously injure yourself while trying to drain it. Find out how to do it correctly by checking out this short guide all about draining a water heater.

The first step in draining a water heater is to ensure that the unit has had enough time to cool off completely. You can check the temperature of your water heater by looking at either the dial on top or the thermostat inside—if either of these is over 50 degrees Fahrenheit, wait until they have cooled down before proceeding with draining your water heater.

Once your water heater has sufficiently cooled off, you will need a few tools for the job. These include a bucket, a hose or pipe (or flexible tubing for electric models), and a wrench. If your water heater is too tall to easily reach the drain valve, you may also want to have a long-handled screwdriver handy for opening the tank. To begin draining your water heater, first, open the drain valve on top of it by turning it counterclockwise with your wrench or long-handled screwdriver.

Once that is done, run the pipe or tube into the bucket so that any excess water drains out into it as it comes out of the unit. Once all of the water has stopped coming out completely, close off the valve and make sure that there are no puddles left in the bottom of your water heater before you move on to the next step.

If you are not comfortable doing this yourself, or if your water heater is too tall and difficult to reach, you should consider hiring a professional plumber to do the work for you. They will be able to safely drain your unit without making a mess or causing any damage.

As you can see, it is actually very easy to drain and flush out your water heater. If you follow these simple steps and make sure that everything is done correctly, there should be no problems with having clean, fresh water inside of it when you need it most. 

Steps to flush a water heater

These are the steps that can be followed to ensure proper water heater drainage:

1. Turn off the heating source. 

Before you start flushing your water heater, make sure to turn off the heating source that heats up the water in your unit. This could be gas or electricity, depending on what type of water heater you have installed in your home.

2. Connect a hose to the drain valve. 

To perform a proper flush, connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater and let it run for about 10–15 minutes until all of the sediment is flushed out. Make sure to keep an eye on how much water is flowing through, as you don’t want to overflow or damage any nearby pipes or fixtures while flushing your unit.

3. Shut off the main water supply to your home. 

Once the flushing is complete, you will need to shut off the main water supply to your entire house so that no more water can enter your system. If you don’t have a master cutoff valve outside of your home, make sure to turn off any and all fixtures in the house that use hot water.

4. Open up the pressure relief valve on your unit to release any excess pressure that may be inside it before draining.

 This valve is usually located at the top of your tank near the cold water pipe coming into it. Before opening this valve, first ensure that there is nobody in or around where hot boiling water could spray out of it when it is opened or while draining by putting a cloth over it.

5. Use a drain hose to drain the water out of your tank.

 You can either use a hose connected to your outside garden spigot, or you can drain it into an exterior bucket if you don’t have one nearby. Wrap the end of your hose with fabric so that no more dirt or debris falls back inside when the draining is complete.

And there you go! Following these steps will make sure that you get rid of as much water in your hot water heater tank as possible, and you will continue to enjoy the use of your water heater tank without any problems.

Importance of draining your water heater

The importance of regularly flushing and draining your water heater cannot be understated. Not only can this help prevent damage to your water heater, but it can also ensure that you are always getting clean and hot water from it. Other benefits include:

Avoiding costly repairs

If you neglect to drain and flush your water heater regularly, there is a good chance that it will suffer damage that can be very expensive to repair. By regularly flushing and draining your water heater, you can help prevent this from happening.

Ensuring hot water on demand

A properly maintained water heater will always provide you with hot water when needed, without fail. This means less stress about taking long showers or doing laundry in the middle of the night!

Saving money and energy

When your water heater operates more efficiently, it uses less energy and costs less to operate over time. This not only saves you money on utility bills but also helps protect the environment by reducing your carbon footprint.

This extends the life of your water heater. A properly maintained water heater will last years longer than one that is not well maintained and cared for properly. This means less hassle, less time shopping for a new one, and more money in your pocket!


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