How Often Should You Drain Your Water Heater?

Posted on: 15 June 2016

If you own your own home and have a hot water heater, you may have heard that it's important to periodically drain the unit. Knowing how often to drain your hot water heater and how it should be done will help you maintain the unit and extend its service life.

How often should you drain your water heater?

The length of time that your water heater can go between flushings depends on the mineral content of your water. If your home has soft water, then your water heater may not need to be flushed often at all. If your home has hard water, then your water heater may need to be flushed annually.

How will you know if it's time to drain your water heater?

Your hot water heater will become inefficient when it needs to be drained. This is because the heating elements are in the bottom of your water heater, and the sediment in your tank is also at the bottom. The sediment covers the heating elements, forcing your hot water heater to work harder than necessary to heat your water. When this happens, you may notice that your water heater produces less hot water than it used to, or it may take longer to refill with hot water.

The best way to tell if your water heater needs to be drained is to check the sediment content in the bottom of the heater. You can find out if there's sediment in the bottom of the water heater by doing the following:

  1. Turn off the cold water supply to the heater.
  2. Turn off the power on the heater.
  3. Open up a hot water faucet in your house to relieve the pressure in the hot water tank.
  4. Hook up a hose to the water spigot on the bottom of your hot water tank. Run the other end of the hose to a drain or to a bucket.
  5. Open the spigot at the bottom of the tank so that the water in the bottom of the tank begins to drain into a sewer or a drain. If the tank contains sediment, then the water will be dirty when it runs out of the tank.

At this point, you can continue to drain the tank until the water runs clean. Be careful not to touch the hose or run the water into a container that you'll have to lift, because the water from the heater will be dangerously hot. Once the water is clear, you can stop draining the water tank, close the faucets and the spigot, restore power to the tank and turn back on the cold water supply.

Can you have your tank drained by a professional?

Plumbing professionals do drain hot water heaters if the service is requested. For more information about how to get your hot water heater drained, contact a reputable plumbing professional in your area.

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