Draining A Hot Water Heater

hot water systemTaking it upon yourself to install a hot water heater can be a very intimidating task, considering the fact that you’re working with both live electricity and gas lines. Both can be scary, I’ll admit, but let’s talk about how you can minimize the risk and save a ton of money in the process. In this article, I’d like to talk about the steps of draining a water heater so it can be removed.

Let’s talk expenses first. Having a professional repair or replace a system can run you a hefty tab. We’re talking anywhere from the national average of about $400 for repair, all the way up to over $1,000, depending on the type of system, not to mention the brand too. If you’re into saving cheddar like I am, take the time to bookmark this article and come back to it when the timing is right (or wrong, especially if you don’t have any hot water).

How To Drain The Old Heater

Yes, it’s true…we have to drain the old piece of crap that gave up on us, much like our 8th grade Spanish instructor did after trying to make us understand sentence structure.. This is a must do scenario because the last thing you’ll want to do is lug your old unit up and down stairs and through doorways while water is slushing around in the tank.

You’re going to need a garden hose (long enough to run from the unit to a bathtub or shower drain. I’d also recommend grabbing an old towel for the stank water you’re likely to encounter, as well as 1.) vice grips, and 2.) a flathead screwdriver.

1.) If you own a gas water heater…

Make sure you turn the burner dial to the pilot position. Just keep an eye on the indicator above or below the dial to make sure it’s right.

If you have an electric unit…

Flip the breaker that powers the heater into the off position at the breaker panel.

2.) Turn off the cold water coming into the unit

You may have to shut off the water main to the whole house. However, you could be lucky and have a valve that’s positioned on the inlet pipe, and all you have to do is turn that into the off position.

3.) Grab the hose

Please be certain that you’ve given water in the tank enough time to cool off so you don’t burn yourself. You can speed up this process by turning ON the hot water knob of a sink. Let it run for 20 minutes. After that, hook your hose up to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank, and run the hose down to the sump pump well, shower or bathtub where it can drain out.

4.) Open her up!

Open the drain valve at the bottom of the tank where you’ve attached the hose. You should see and hear the water begin to discharge out of the tank and through the hose. This is another reason we left the hot water on at the sink – it will help drain the tank faster.

5.) Be patient

That’s all. You just have to sit and wait for the tank to drain itself out. Once you’ve done the draining, you can move on to replacing anode rods and other routine maintenance. Even if you have a professional hot water heater plumber coming out to the house to repair or replace the old unit, having it drained already can save you money because this is a step they won’t have to perform when they arrive.