According to manufacturers recommendations you should drain your water heater annually to keep it working properly. This allows the heater to rid itself of debris and sediment that settles at the bottom of the tank.
To empty your water heater properly follow these steps:
1) Turn off the gas or electricity to the heater. If it’s a gas heater turn the knob to “pilot”. If you have an electric heater turn off the power at the main panel.
2) Shut off the water supply going to the heater. Your heater should have a shut off valve located on the cold water line running to the water heater. Normally it is located just above the heater and is either a round handle (like the picture below) or a lever handle. If it is a round handle turn it clockwise until it stops. If it is a lever handle you will only need to turn it a 1/4 turn so that the handle is pointing away from the piping.
3) If you have access to a floor drain nearby you should hook up a hose to the drain valve located st the bottom of the heater. If you don’t have access to a floor drain you may have to drain it bucket by bucket (like the poor guy in the picture at the top of this post).
4) Before you start to drain the heater you need to open up the hot water side of a faucet located in the house. If you don’t do this step there will be a vacuum present in the line that won’t allow the water to leave the heater.
5) Open up the valve at the bottom of the heater to allow the water to drain out. (do not open the pressure relief valve located at the top of the heater) This is going to take between 20 to 45 minutes depending on the heater. Note: if using a floor drain make sure that it is working properly. The last thing you need is to clean up 40 gallons of hot water.
6) After the heater is finished draining shut off the drain valve. Also shut off the hot water tap that you opened earlier.
7) Turn on the cold water supply to the heater and allow it to fill up.
8) Turn the power or gas supply back on to the heater. The heater will take a while to heat back up again. There may be condensation that forms while heating back up so don’t be too worried if you see water dripping from your heater to start with.
9) Turn on hot water on a faucet in the house. You will have to allow the air to come out of the line before any hot water will come out. It’s going to sound funny and when the water finally comes it will shoot out with a burst but it will return to normal after a few moments.
Note: If you find that after draining your heater, one or more of your faucets aren’t running real smooth or have poor water pressure make sure that the aerator located at the faucets spout isn’t plugged with debris. It should unscrew by hand but if it doesn’t use a crescent wrench with a rubber jar opener to turn it off. Using a jar opener allows you to grip the aerator without damaging the surface of the faucet or aerator.
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