A Guide to Maintain and Drain a Water Heater

Most water heater maintenance experts and manuals recommend that you drain your water heater periodically at least twice a year. The reason for periodic draining is to maintain your heater’s potency to deliver optimal water heating conditions. It is recommended to drain water heaters to steer clear of any sediments or buildups collected on the water heater tank.

Thus you can ensure that your water heater works efficiently without bearing the brunt of working under strain, which can result in using more energy and costing more money to run. It’s essential to know how to drain a water heater and schedule periodic water heater maintenance checks from your local plumber to keep your water heaters working in top condition.

Here’s a definitive guide to help you maintain and drain a water heater for maximum efficiency and improved lifespan of the water heater:

How Often Should You Drain Your Water Heater

The frequency and intensity at which sediments tend to build up in your water heater can vary according to the below factors:

  • The mineral content of the incoming water supply
  • The temperature of the hot water you keep
  • Level of hot water usage

These factors can largely determine how much scale builds up in your water heater and how often you need to descale. Your best bet is to contact your local plumbing pros to monitor the buildup in your water heater and suggest the best course of action to schedule periodic water heater flushing.

Signs You Need to Drain Your Water Heater

The vast majority of homeowners often overlook flushing their water heater’s tank periodically. Here are common signs that indicate it’s time to drain your water heater:

Noisy Heater

When you notice your water heaters making popping, crackling or banging sounds, it can be due to scale or sediment buildup. The noises may seem to vanish on their own but could have caused more damage than you can imagine. The layer of scale may have solidified to the extent that water may not penetrate through it. Therefore, if your water heater becomes noisy, immediately act upon how to drain a water heater and take the necessary steps to get rid of the sediments.

Low Heating Potency

If you suddenly notice that your showers are becoming less steamy or shorter, it can be attributed to sediments that form a hard layer. The more sediments, the more difficult the heat transfer process becomes. As a result, you may experience a shortage of hot water. Fortunately, you can get your water heater back to top performance with a simple water heater drain procedure.

Higher Utility Bills

With more sediments and scale buildup in the water heater, it becomes difficult for the heating element to transfer heat to the water. Thus, it results in more energy usage for the heaters to work harder under strain. This can lead to significantly higher utility bills.

Failure of Hot Water Heater

Finally, if you notice that there is no hot water in your faucet, scale buildup can be the culprit. Scale or sediment buildup in your water heater can cause premature failure of electrodes in your electric water heater. In a gas water heater, these sediments tend to block and form a layer between the heat source and the water. As a result, it causes unnecessary strain on the water heaters that eventually gives in. Regular water heater flushes are a smart move compared to the cost of water heater replacement.

How to Drain a Water Heater: Simple Steps

Performing a quick water heater flush is easy with a few essential steps to follow:

  • Get a hose
  • Turn off the power of the heater.
  • Turn off the water going in.
  • Let the tank cool by releasing all water.
  • Connect the hose to the drain valve
  • Turn on a hot water faucet.
  • Turn on the drain valve.
  • Turn the water to the tank back on while the drain is still open to completely flush sediments.
  • Shut the hot water faucet off
  • When the tank is full, turn the water heater back on.

At times you can expect to encounter potential problems when draining a water heater. Probably, the drain valve may not close again completely. Since the drain valve may have been under neglect for a long time (6 months to a year or longer), it can be hard to tackle the valve. It may need to be secured accurately to avoid any leaks or even need an upgrade to a new one.

Especially if you are dealing with an older water heater and unsure how to drain a water heater, it’s recommended to engage an expert plumber who can assist you with periodic water heater draining services.

Vital Maintenance Steps for Hot Water Heater

Apart from performing periodic water heater drains, there are several ways to improve your water heater’s longevity to avoid expensive repairs and replacement. Here are some critical maintenance steps to help your water heater to run efficiently:

Test the TPR Valve

The temperature and pressure relief valve is a prime safety feature that detects excessive pressure buildup or high temperature in the water heater tank. Without a functional TPR valve, your water heater may pose a risk of explosion. Therefore it’s vital to test the valve periodically by water heater service experts.

Adjust Temperature

The US Department of Energy recommends maintaining a temperature setting of 120-degree Fahrenheit for optimal performance. Proper temperature setting helps to mitigate the risk of scalding and reduce the accumulation of sediments. To adjust the temperature, you need to access the water heater’s thermostat panel.

Adding Insulation to the Water Heater and Pipes

Adding an insulation layer to your electric water heater and its pipes can decrease heat loss up to 45% and help you preserve energy. As a result, you can make your water heater more efficient and cheaper to use.

Checking the Anode Rod

The anode rod in the water heater tank helps prevent internal rust and corrosion. A corroded anode rod can further exacerbate deposits or sediment buildup. Therefore, it’s also vital to inspect the water heater’s anode rods periodically by the experts.

After understanding all about how to drain a water heater and the various preventive measures to promote the efficacy of your water heater, rest assured you can enjoy those long hot water showers with the prolonged life span of your home’s water heating system.


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