Class A Contractor Virginia
Contractor License #2705136393

How to drain your water heater

Drain your water heater like a pro

Water heaters, like many appliances, are simple in concept but a little more complex in applied practice. At their most basic, water heaters are insulated holding tanks designed to make sure your home has enough hot water on hand when called upon. Throughout the course of their lives, water heater tanks will tend to accumulate sediment—a compacted layer of dirt and particulate brought in from your home’s outside water source—which can potentially cut down on the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater.

It’s recommended that homeowners flush their water heaters of sediment at least every two years, possibly more, depending on the mineral and sediment content of your home’s water source. Luckily, draining your water heater to get rid of sediment buildup is fairly simple and doesn’t require professional assistance if you follow a few basic steps:

  • Cut power to the water heater, either by turning off the breaker for electric heaters or setting to “pilot” for gas heaters.
  • Turn the water heater inlet valve to the “off” position in order to prevent refilling during the drain.
  • Attach a length of hose to the drain valve, which will be near the bottom of the tank—most garden hoses will do fine for this procedure. Place the hose’s other end somewhere it can drain safely, like a floor drain or the gutter.
  • Open a hot water tap near the water heater, ideally on the floor above, to allow for quicker and more efficient draining; think of it like taking your finger off the top of a straw filled with liquid.
  • Open the drain valve and allow gravity to do its work. Even if the drained water appears totally clear of sediment, there may still be a layer on the bottom of the tank.
  • Once the tank is nearly drained, re-open the inlet valve. This will allow water to flow into the bottom of the tank, dislodging any sediment buildup on the bottom of the tank and flushing it out through the drain valve.­­­­­
  • Repeat the previous step until drainage runoff appears sediment-free.
  • Close the drain valve and allow the tank to refill before turning the water heater back on. Some tanks need to be totally full in order to avoid damaging the heating element, so it’s important to familiarize yourself with your specific heater’s manufacturer directions and warnings before draining.


Doing a simple flush routine from time to time will not only keep your water heater running efficiently, it will also prolong its life by helping avoid rust and corrosion on the inside of the tank. It’ll also help your water heater run less conspicuously, as sediment can occasionally form into a ball-like shape and make a lot of harmless but annoying noise banging around inside the tank. If you need help with your water heater, simply call our team at Atlantic Green!