Draining and flushing your water heater is a simple yet essential task and an important part of keeping it in good shape and running smoothly. Not only does it help to extend the life of your water heater, but it also helps to prevent corrosion, mineral buildup, and other problems that can occur. You can see what types of water heaters are recommended by checking out this page on energy.gov.

First, let’s start with the basics—why should you drain your water heater?

The longer your water heater goes without drain and flush maintenance, the more sediment and minerals will accumulate at the bottom of the tank. Eventually, this causes scaling and leads to higher energy bills, and can cause the water heater to overheat, which can be a fire hazard.

Now that you know why it’s important to drain your water heater, let’s talk about the process. What do you need to start?

You’ll need a bucket, garden hose, safety goggles, a pair of gloves, a pair of pliers and a flat head screwdriver handy.

What are the steps to drain the tank?
  • First, turn off the power (or gas) to the water heater and allow the water to cool down to below 120°F. This may take up to a few hours or overnight.
  • Perform a quick flush: place your bucket under the drain valve and then open the drain valve for a few seconds and close it again. The pressure will blow out any sediment build up in the valve and help the tank drain faster. If there’s a lot of sediment, then repeat this a few times. Make sure you are wearing your safety goggles.
  • Now shut off the cold water supply, locate the drain valve at the bottom of the tank. and connect a garden hose to the drain valve. Run the other end to a floor drain or outside.
  • Be sure all but one of the hot water taps in your home are closed-the bathtub closest to the water heater is the best one to keep open. Water may gush out at first, but should quickly slow to a trickle if the water to the water heater has been shut off properly. This helps to relieve the pressure.
Do you open pressure relief valve when draining water heater?

You can either open a tap or open the pressure relief valve usually found at the top of the unit.

What’s next?
  • Make sure the hose is secure and turn the drain valve counterclockwise to open it. You can usually do this by hand, but you might need to use your flat-head screwdriver here.
  • Allow the tank to drain until it’s almost empty.
How long does it take to drain a 40 gallon water heater?

It only takes about 15 to 30 minutes to completely drain a water heater. A typical 40- to 60-gallon residential tank found in most homes will take no more than 15 minutes.

How long does it take to drain a 50 gallon water heater?

This can take 20 to 60 minutes, depending on how big the tank is. Be careful not to damage or break the drain valve when you open and close it. Never force the valve open or closed.

The next step is to flush the tank.

How do you flush the tank?
  • Once the tank is nearly empty, turn the valve clockwise to close it and disconnect the garden hose.
  • After the tank has been drained for about 15 minutes, turn off the drain valve and turn on the cold water supply. This will help to refill the tank and rinse out any remaining sediment. Also shut the pressure relief valve now if you opened it earlier.
  • Now open your hot water tap open in the bathtub (if you didn’t in the earlier steps), and allow water to run through it. This will help flush out any remaining sediment and help prevent it from collecting in the tank. After about 5 minutes, turn the tap off and refill the tank with fresh water.
  • You’ll want to let the tank refill completely before turning the power back on.
What if my water heater still isn’t working properly?

You’ll want to check the anode rod in your water heater. The anode rod helps protect the inside metal parts from corrosion. If it’s heavily corroded, it will need to be replaced.

Flushing your water heater is an important part of maintaining your hot water system. It’s also important to note that you should only drain and flush your water heater once every 6-12 months. By following these steps, you ensure that your water heater will provide you with the hot water you need.

We hope this information has been helpful. If you need some help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Saturday Savers – we’re here to help you get your Saturdays back by doing all of those handyman jobs around your property. Make a list and get a quote here.