Did you know you need to perform annual maintenance on your hot water heater? Most people forget about their hot water heater—until that day they get blasted with freezing cold water in the shower! If you want to extend the life of your hot water heater, you’ll want to drain it every year and replace the anode rod every three years.
How Do I Drain My Hot Water Heater?
If you’re not handy, you will probably want to have a plumber come out and drain your hot water heater for you, but if you are handy, you can do it yourself. Follow these instructions:
Turn Off The Power And Water Supply
If you’ve got a gas hot water heater, you’ll want to adjust the thermostat setting to “pilot”. If you’ve got an electric hot water heater, you’ll want to turn off the power by using the breaker box. Then turn off the water supply.
Set Up The Hose
Look near the thermostat; you should see a drain valve there. Hook up a hose to the drain valve and make sure you have the hose set up to drain in an appropriate place, like your driveway or yard. Make sure you think ahead about where that water is going to go, and keep in mind that water will be hot.
Drain The Hot Water Tank
Go inside the house and turn on the hot water in a sink faucet (this will protect the lines from being damaged by a vacuum as the water drains). Now go back to your hot water heater and open up the drain valve. The hot water from the heater should drain out through the hose.
Flush Any Remaining Sediment Out Of The Hot Water Tank
Now turn back on the water supply and watch the sediment flush out through the hose. When you no longer see sediment, turn off the water supply and wait for the water flow to trickle and eventually stop.
Close the drain valve, making sure it is tightly sealed. Then remove the hose, coil it up, put it away, and be sure to open up the water supply valve. (Don’t delay – the heating element can explode if left on without water in the tank.) Shut off the hot water faucet that you had opened inside your sink. Turn on the power source to the hot water heater once you’re pretty sure the tank is completely full.
Run A Test
Once the water had heated up again, test the pressure-release valve (follow the instructions on the owner’s manual). If it isn't working properly, you'll need to have a plumber come out and install a new one.
Disclaimer: Make sure you read the manufacturer’s instructions before draining your hot water heater yourself as your hot water heater may require special precautions or steps to be taken. If in doubt, have a professional plumber tackle the job for you. You should always have a professional plumber replace the anode rod – this is not a job for an amateur.
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