Hot Water Heater


All hot water heaters will eventually see their last day, but you can put it off for awhile with some regular, simple maintenance.  When you drain a hot water heater you also drain sediment that can form at the bottom of the water heater helping to slow the rusting process which leads to leaking.  Here are some simple steps to follow when you drain the hot water heater.

  • Plan a good time to be without hot water.  Draining a hot water heater takes some planning.  You’re probably not going to have hot water for an hour or two while you’re draining, so plan accordingly.  Thus, the most difficult part of the process, especially when a large family lives in the home.
  • Turn off the heat.  Whether gas, electric, or oil, there should be a dial or switch at the bottom of the hot water heater to turn off the heat.  Consult your owner’s manual for instructions on how to turn off the heat.
  • Shut off the water supply.  After turning off the heat, turn off the water supply to the water heater.  On top of the hot water heater should be two pipes, each with a gate valve.  One pipe is to supply the water heater with water and the other is to take hot water and distribute it throughout the home.  Turn off both valves just to be safe.
  • Drain the water heater.  Somewhere at the bottom of the unit should be a valve and a spigot.  Attach an old piece of garden hose to the spigot long enough to carry the water to the nearest drain.  Turn the valve to the left and water should start coming out of the hose.
  • Turn everything back on.  After all of the water has drained out; close the drain valve, open the supply line and the distribution line, and turn on the heat.  Make sure you read the owner’s manual when turning on the heat.

Now you’re back in business.  Just drain the hot water heater every 3-6 months and you’ll add years to its life.  Anyone who’s ever replaced a water heater, or gone without hot water, knows how valuable that is.

If you’re overdue on draining you may hear the hot water heater gurgling.  This is sediment at the bottom of the hot water heater.  Try to drain the unit and see if that lessens the problem.