9 Tips That Show You How To Drain And Flush Your Water Heater
Like every household appliance, your water heater needs regular maintenance to keep it in working order.
If you don’t, you could end up with a system that doesn’t heat up properly. Unless you like cold showers, that isn’t going to be appealing for very long.
And with the average cost of a plumber costing between $150 and $450, you might be put off getting the work done. But what if you could do it yourself?
We’re going to teach you how to drain a water heater without hiring outside help with these 9 easy to follow tips, so keep on reading.
Turn Your Water Heater Off
The first thing you should do, before you do anything else, is to switch your water heater off. It’s probably best to follow the instructions provided by your manufacturer if you can, but if not, use your best judgment.
For a gas-powered heater, switch to ‘pilot’ mode only. Electric-powered heaters can be switched off completely, either on the heater itself or at the main circuit board.
Cut The Water Supply
The next thing you should do is disconnect the water supply. Find the valve that allows cold water to flow into the heater and switch this off.
You will need to judge the valve for yourself, but in most instances, you will need to turn the valve clockwise to disconnect the supply. If you’re unsure, please consult a professional at this stage.
Allow The Water To Cool
You’re going to be draining a lot of water, so there’s the risk of injury if you attempt to work with the heater while the water is still hot.
It’s best to leave the tank to cool down for several hours before you begin to drain it. That way, when you begin the process, you can do so knowing you won’t injure yourself if the water spills or there’s an accident.
Run The Hot Water Faucet And Release Pressure
Once the tank is cool enough to work with, run a nearby hot water faucet. This will stop any kind of vacuum building up inside the piping as you drain, which could cause leaks and possible injury.
To make it easier for the water to drain in the next stages, release the pressure in your tank using the pressure relief valve. This is also a good opportunity to test the quality of the valve.
Use Protection And Connect Draining Hose
It’s best to use protection such as gloves at this stage, as the water in your tank might still be hot enough to cause injury.
Assuming you already have a common garden hose handy (if you don’t, time to get one!), find the draining valve on your tank and hook the hose up to it. If there are any leaks, use pliers or cable ties to ensure a proper seal.
If the heater is lower than ground level, you may also need a pump – manual or electronic – to drain the water, or your tank won’t drain.
How To Drain A Water Heater Like Yours
We’ve reached the crucial part here – the actual draining! Take a look at your drain valve, do you need a screwdriver to open it? If you do, use one to slowly loosen the valve to allow water out.
If not, simply turn it and wait for the water to flow out until the water stops. If you’re using a pump to drain it, activate or manually pump the water out until the tank is empty.
Make sure the end of your hose has an appropriate exit point, too. A bucket or a nearby drain would be the most suitable.
Flush Any Contaminants From Your Tank
A lot of the problems causing a tank to stop working as effectively as before are the contaminants that collect in and around the tank. Flushing these out should help your tank heat up more efficiently.
The easiest method of doing so is to open the cold water intake valve again, opening and closing it a few times. The rush of cold water filling against the empty tank should help to disturb any build up, allowing the contaminants to flow out of the drain valve.
If you’re manually pumping the water out, you may need a second person to help you at this stage.
Close The Draining Valves And Refill The Tank
Visually inspect the water waste being pumped out of the tank. Hopefully, after clearing the tank of any build up, it will start to run clear.
If that’s the case, it’s time to close the draining valve and refill the tank, ready to use it again. Carefully re-close the draining valve (remember, clockwise turns) and disconnect any hosing once you’re sure it’s sealed.
Once that’s done, reopen the cold water intake valve, then turn on all the hot water faucets to clear out any air bubbles that might have built up in the system during the draining process.
Turn The Heater Back On And Test
At this stage, the only step left is to turn the heater back on and test its working. Don’t do this until the tank is filled, however, or you could end up causing damage.
Once the heater is on and working, check the water. If you’re happy, congratulations, you’ve just drained and cleaned your tank, without needing to hire a professional!
See how it runs over the next few days. If you think it’s time for a replacement water tank instead, take a look at the Department of Energy’s guide to selecting a new water heater.
Water Heater Maintenance Doesn’t Have To Be Difficult
Any sort of home maintenance can seem scary if you’re not used to doing it. Thankfully, our 9 tips should give you a clear route to clearing your water heater of any contaminant buildup, giving you a fresher shower each morning.
Now you know how to drain a water heater, the sky’s the limit. If you’re finding the system isn’t working as well as you hoped, however, take a look at our 10 troubleshooting tips for common electric boilers.
And if you find yourself needing a professional, don’t worry, we’ve got you. If you’re based in or around Central Indiana, book an emergency callout repair with us today.
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