How to Drain and Preserve Your Hot Water Tank

A Guide on How to Drain and Preserve Your Hot Water Tank

hot water tank maintenance

Taking care of your hot water tank is essential to prevent sediment build-up. This will definately reduce efficiency and cause damage to the tank. Enjoying a hot shower is a daily treat. Therefore, Flushing your hot water tank annually is a crucial step in preventing such issues. Learn how to wash and clean your hot water tank properly for long-lasting performance and optimal functionality.


Step 1: Disconnect the power supply.

A water heater’s principal function is to heat a large amount of water using either gas or electricity. To prevent damage during flushing, turn off the fuel source.

  • For gas water heaters, locate the thermostat on the exterior with a red knob, typically where the gas pipe enters. Note the temperature setting, then turn it to the lowest setting, often marked as ‘Pilot.’
  • For electric water heaters, switch off the electricity from the breaker box. Identify the branch breaker assigned to the water heater and turn it off. If unsure, switch off the main power for the entire home.
  • If dealing with a fuse box, remove the fuse assigned to the water heater. If uncertain, turn off the power for the entire home. Use a flashlight for visibility.

Tip: Turn off the water heater the night before to cool the water, reducing the risk of burns and allowing alternative water use.

Step 2: Close the Water Supply Valve

With the heat off, hot water production ceases. For safety, open a nearby faucet to drain hot water into the sink, replacing it with cold water.

  • Once most hot water is replaced with cold, close the water supply valve located where the cold water pipe enters the tank.

Tip: Gas or propane supply valves do not need to be turned off. Lowering the thermostat ensures the water heater remains inactive.

Step 3: Connect a Garden Hose to the Drain Valve.

Locate the drain valve at the base of the water heater, resembling a hose bib. Connect a garden hose using channel locks, extending the hose to a safe draining area.

  • Ensure the hose end is in a secure location that won’t be damaged by the draining water’s force, temperature, or volume.
  • To protect yourself from hot water and any splashes, wrap a towel across the drain valve and hose connection.

By following these steps, you’ll maintain your water heater’s efficiency and prevent sediment-related issues, ensuring a prolonged appliance life.

Step 4: Open the Drain Valve to Begin Draining

Securely attach a garden hose to the drain valve and place the other end in an appropriate drainage location. Open the drain valve to initiate the water drainage. For improved flow, carefully open the pressure relief valve at the top. Place a bucket beneath the discharge pipe to catch any water that may fall to the floor.


  • If the water wasn’t allowed to cool or if most of the hot water wasn’t replaced with cold water before draining, the water and air inside were boiling. Exercise extreme caution to avoid contact with water or steam. It’s advisable to wear gloves and a face shield to minimize burn risks.
  • Take care not to strain the drain valve, especially if it’s old. Excessive force could lead to valve breakage, causing a forceful spray of scalding water. If the drain valve proves problematic, it’s best left to a professional plumber or water heater technician.

Step 5: Test the Water for Sediment

The objective is to clear sediment from the tank bottom. After 10 to 20 minutes of draining:

  1. Fill a bucket halfway with water.
  2. Allow it to sit undisturbed for 60 seconds, then check for water clarity and sediment at the bottom.
  3. If the water is cloudy or sediment is present, continue draining and retest in 10-minute intervals until the water is clear.

Step 6: Turn off the drain valve and disconnect the garden hose.

Once the water is clear with no sediment, close the drain valve and remove the garden hose. Keep the hose end directed upwards until outside or over a drain. Close neither the pressure relief valve nor the hot water valve in the adjacent sink or bathtub. These should remain open to release air from the line.

Step 7: Open the Water Supply Valve

With the hot water valve in the nearby sink or bathtub still open, open the water supply valve to fill the tank. Air in the top of the tank will gradually exit through the available faucet and pressure relief valve as it serves. Wait until water flows with full pressure from the open faucet before turning on the electricity or resetting the thermostat.

Final Steps:

  • Close the open faucet and pressure relief valve.
  • Wait 20 to 30 minutes before testing the water temperature at the nearest tap.

How To Tell If Your Water Heater Needs Flushing

If you’ve noticed lukewarm or cold water flowing from your faucets, consider flushing your water heater. Keep an eye out for unexpected debris or brown sludge in your water, as these could be indicators that a water heater flush is necessary. Detecting these signs early on is crucial for timely maintenance.

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What Happens If My Tank Fails To Drain?

If your tank is draining slowly or not at all, try opening the temperature/pressure relief (TPR) valve near the tank’s top. This lever, usually movable up or down and is connected to a pipe running down to the tank’s base. Opening the TPR valve might release a potential vacuum hindering water drainage. If sediment is blocking the drain valve, seeking assistance from a Licensed hot water tank installer is the recommended course of action.

How Often Should You Flush Your Water Heater?

hot water tank maintenance

Regular flushing is essential, even if you aren’t facing apparent issues. Aim to flush your water heater every six months to once a year to prevent potential problems. If signs of trouble arise before the annual mark, washing more frequently is a proactive measure that won’t harm your system and ensure optimal performance and safeguards the longevity of your water heating system.


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Early Warning Signs Your Water Heater Might Fail

The Importance of Regular Flushing for Water Heater Longevity

Most hot water tanks boast a sizable holding tank to ensure a steady hot water supply. Over time, minerals from the water and sediment from municipal water lines settle at the tank’s bottom. This sediment buildup can impede the water heater’s efficiency, risking premature failure. While hot water tanks typically last 10–12 years, neglecting annual sediment drainage can significantly reduce their lifespan.

Essential Advice for Hot Water Tank Maintenance

Are you living in Abbotsford and it’s been several years since you last flushed your hot water tank? It’s might be wise to enlist the services of a Licensed hot water tank installer in Abbotsford for the task. The risk of triggering leaks is very high. Therefore, sediment build-up over the years could have created small cracks in the tank’s bottom. Although the existing sediment is plugging these cracks, draining and flushing the tank might remove the residue “seal” and expose the leaks.

Now, this isn’t to discourage you from draining your tank. It does not imply that you will undoubtedly encounter leaks if it hasn’t been flushed for years. By bringing in a Licensed hot water tank installer from our team, you have the right professional to handle any unforeseen leaks.

When to Seek Professional Hot Water Tank Services

hot water tank service

If you’re confident in your abilities, equipped with the right tools, and have the time, handling your water heater’s flushing might be doable. However, if you’d rather not invest the time or want assurance that it’s done correctly, turning to professionals is a wise choice.

Look no further than our professionals! for all your water heater needs. Knowledge HVAC & Refrigeration Ltd possess the expertise to manage everything, from routine flushing and general hot water tank maintenance to necessary repairs and replacements. For more details on hot water tank services, contact Knowledge HVAC & Refrigeration Ltd at +1-778-522-5669 and consult with one of our hot water tank installers in Abbottsford.