As all homeowners know, keeping up with the maintenance of your home is incredibly important. Not only does taking care of problems before they become big issues save you money in the long run, but it can give you a sense of satisfaction to know you are doing your best to maintain a home that can be lived in for years to come. One such area that is important to keep up with is proper water heater maintenance.

If a water heater is not drained once a year, then over time sediments will build up which can cause the water heater to stop working. This results in cold showers or clothes that do not get properly cleaned. If left undrained long enough it can even damage your water heater and you will have to buy a whole new one. However, you can avoid that happening by following some simple steps to drain your water heater. Read on to find out how!

How Do I Drain My Water Heater?

Though you may be tempted to call in a plumber, draining or flushing your water heater is a fairly easy process that you can do yourself by taking the following steps:

  • First, turn off the heat source for the water heater. For an electric heater, you can turn off the heat source by finding the breaker where the heater is plugged into the wall and flipping it to the off position or completely unplugging it from the wall. For a gas heater, turn the dial that controls the water temperature to the left until it is pointed at “Pilot” or “Vacation.”
  • Turn off the cold-water supply. Locate the supply valve and turn the lever to the left. This should cut the water off.
  • Connect a garden hose to the drain spigot. This spigot is located at the bottom of the heater. Place the garden hose against the spigot and turn the top of the hose to the right until it is securely attached.
  • Turn on a faucet inside the house on the hot side. This will allow air to enter into the system which will enable the water to drain out of the hose.
  • Open the drain valve on the water heater. On many heaters, this valve is located on the spigot where you attached the hose. Take a screwdriver and turn the valve so it is straight up and down instead of horizontally. The valve should be open, and water should start to drain. If it has been a while since you drained your heater then it may take a while to get moving due to sediment build-up.
  • However, if you do not hear any air moving in the tank and the water is still not draining, then you will have to turn on the pressure relief valve by taking the silver piece sticking out and turning it up. This should only be used as a last resort, and because turning on a faucet inside the house did not provide enough air to get things moving. Once turned up, the water should start draining.
  • Allow the tank to drain completely. This should take about 15-20 minutes. Be sure that the water is draining away from an area where kids and pets are, as it is very hot and can cause burns.
  • Flush out the tank. To be sure that you are clearing out any sediment that may not have been moved with the initial flush, turn on the cold-water source for 15-20 seconds, rest, and repeat these steps 3-4 times. You should see sediment coming out of the house. Repeat the flushing until the water runs clear.
  • Turn the cold-water source back on, fill up the tank with cold water, and drain again. This is just an extra way to ensure that the tank is indeed cleaned out thoroughly.
  • Get the hot water tank ready for normal use. Close the drain valve and unscrew the hose from the spigot. Open the cold-water tank and allow the tank to fill up. While you’re refilling, be sure to leave either the faucet or pressure relief valve on. Turn off the relief valve before the water reaches the drain of the valve. Turn the heat source back on, and then turn on the hot water in any sink in the house until it runs smoothly.

You have now successfully drained your water heater.


Home upkeep can feel intimidating and overwhelming sometimes. However, certain tasks are much easier and simpler than you may realize. Simple enough that you can do them yourself and do not have to call in a plumber or another professional to fix an issue. One of those tasks is draining/flushing your water heater.

Make sure your water heater is turned off, then turn off the cold-water supply. Hook up a hose to the spigot at the bottom of the water heater. Have a faucet running (on the hot side) in the house, open the drain valve, and let the water drain until the tank is empty. Flush out the tank with water pressure from the cold water until the water runs clear, then return everything to where it was, and fill the tank back up.


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