How Often Should I Drain My Water Heater?

Though water heater manufacturers may provide specific instructions on how often a water heater should be drained, the rule of thumb is to drain your water heater on an annual basis. 
Generally, the purpose of draining your water heater is to clear out the hard water and sediment that may have built up over it’s use. This build up, of course, poses a threat to lifespan and functionality of your home’s water heater so clearing out these deposits through water heater draining is a good maintenance technique that is relatively simple.
How Do I Drain My Water Heater? 
Step 1: Turn off your Re-circulation pump. 
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‚Äč‚ÄčThis pump simply helps recirculate water in the closed water heater, and turning it off is as easy as unplugging it from the wall. Ensure you hear the pump turn off before moving to the next step.   To the right is an example of what your re-circulation pump may look like. 

Step 2: Turn Your Water Heater Off. 
For gas water heaters, simply change your gas line to it’s ‘pilot’ setting. This will stop the flame from starting while you are working on the water heater. If you are using an electric water heater, unplug it from the wall. 
Step 3: Shut Off Water Supply to The Water Heater
Find the cold water supply pipe leading into your water heater and turn it’s input valve to the ‘Off’ position. This will prevent additional water from entering the water heater as you are draining the system.
Step 4: Connect Hose to Drain Valve
Find the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater tank and securely fasten a hose. 
Step 5: Open the Drain Valve
Before opening the drain valve, ensure your house is leading to somewhere water can be drained. I recommend using a large bucket so you can clearly see the results of your water heater draining. 
Open the valve using the valve opener, which should be on the side of the valve at the bottom of your tank.
Step 6: Let Air Into The Tank
Depending on the structure of your water heater, there are two ways you can introduce water into the tank to begin the draining process.Some water heater tanks have pressure release valves on the outside, allowing you to introduce air into the system easily. 
If you don’t have a pressure release valve, introducing air is as simple as loosening one of the nuts from the pipe entering your system at the top.
Either way, you should hear the water being introduced into the system and water will begin draining. 
Step 7: Let The Tank Drain
Caution: Water Will Be Hot
Give the tank enough time to drain completely, if you’re using a bucket as recommended, this is a good time to monitor the water and ensure it isn’t too dirty. If the water is discolored, it may be a sign it’s time to replace your water heater. 
Step 8: Close The Air Intake
Depending on how what method you used in Step 6, it is know time to close the system and stop air from coming in by closing the pressure release valve or tightening the nuts ontop of your tank.
Step 9: Flush The Tank
Before removing your house, open the valve we closed on Step 3. This will allow water to flow into the tank and push any additional deposits out of the system. After a couple of minutes, it’s not time to close the drain valve and disconnect your hose. 
Note: make sure to double and triple check all connections
Step 10: Open Hot Water Faucets
Before reconnecting your pump we disconnecting in step 1 , open all of the hot water faucets and fixtures in your home and let them flush out for a few minutes. Once flushed, you can now plug in your pump. 
Finally, turn your gas tank from ‘pilot’ to ‘on’, or re-plug your electric tank into the wall. 
At this point, you have successful drained your water heater – improving it’s longevity and functionality until next year. 

Having problems with your water heater?

Fortunately, CRC Plumbing has years of experience in serving Thousand Oaks residents with water heater repair and diagnostics. It’s one of the many services we’re proud to offer. 

We’re happy to help with your troubles, so please feel free to contact us. 

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