How to Drain a Hot Water Heater

Most water heaters have large, insulated tanks for various household applications. Also, to drain a hot water heater is equally important as over time, naturally occurring minerals in the water, as well as sand and grit from municipal piping, can settle to the bottom of the tank.

This buildup can reduce the efficiency and capacity of the water heater. It can also clog drains, complicate ongoing maintenance and lead to premature failure. Draining a water heater to remove deposits is a simple do-it-yourself job that requires only a little time and some basic tools.

Debris can affect the burner performance of gas water heaters and cause crackling and rattling during the heating cycle. Depending on the water source and mineral content, both gas and electric water heaters should be cleaned of debris every one to two years to ensure optimal performance.

Dave Moody, plumbing specialist with Service Experts, suggests, “If your water source is a well or if your city water contains more sediment than normal, you may need to drain your water heater more frequently.

You may like to know about tankless water heaters


Tools and materials required to drain Hot Water Heater

  • Garden hose
  • Flathead screwdriver

Check out the hot water heater draining tools.

Turn off the water supply

Turn off the cold water supply valve at the top of the hot water heater.

Turn off the water heater

Turn the thermostat to the “pilot” position (for gas) or turn it off at the control box (for electric).


Electric hot water heaters must be completely disconnected during cleaning. If the water level in the tank drops below the level of the heating element, the exposed heating element can burn out quickly.

Most electric water heaters are directly connected to their own circuit breaker. Locate the water heater circuit breaker in the electrical supply panel.

The water in the water heater tank may continue to burn for hours after the gas burner or electric water heater is turned off. Wait overnight for the water to cool, or drain the hot water carefully to avoid danger.

Connect a hose to the drain valve

Locate the tank drain valve near the bottom of the tank and connect a standard garden hose to the drain valve. Note that some models may have a cap over the valve opening.

Place the other end of the hose in a safe drainage area, such as a drain in the ground or a driveway. A bucket can also be used if necessary, but be careful not to burn yourself on the hot water while working.

Open the hot water bottle

Open the hot water faucet closest to the water heater, preferably on the upper floor. Drain the hot water quickly while removing your finger from the end of the straw.

Open the drain valve

Open the drain valve to allow the water to drain from the tank. Be careful now because the water is hot. Once all the water has been drained from the tank, turn on the cold water supply to the tank for a short time. This will remove any remaining sediment.

Repeat this process until the water is clear. Dave Moody has seen some severe cases of sediment buildup. In some cases, sediment can block the opening of the drain valve and impede the flow of water. In these cases, it is best to seek professional help.”

Close the valve, fill the tank and restart the water heater

Close the drain valve, remove the hose and turn on the cold water supply. The tank will be full. Return to the hot water faucet you just turned on. If cold water comes out of the faucet, close the faucet. Reopen the gas valve from the ignition position or turn the tank back on. Always make sure that no water comes out of the opening after closing the valve.


Some tanks must be completely filled to avoid damage to the gas burner or heating element. Always read and follow all instructions and warnings provided by your hot water heater manufacturer.

Why do I need to drain my water heater?

Did you know that sediment builds up at the bottom of the water heater? Yes, that’s right, and it causes clogs and decreases the performance of the hot water heater. Draining the water can also remove sediment. This is called tank cleaning.

Minerals such as calcium and magnesium combine to form sediment, which settles to the bottom of the water heater. Unfortunately, the sediment accumulates and reduces the efficiency of the system.

The water temperature becomes inconsistent, energy costs increase, and the hot water supply is further limited. You may even have maintenance issues that require a plumber. Don’t ignore every sound you hear coming from your tank. It could mean you need to flush, or it could mean something more problematic or expensive.

read more about best tankless gas water heaters.

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