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Draining hot water heaters

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

Is it a good idea to drain the hot water heater periodically? If so, how often?

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

It's not only a good idea but also recommended by the manufacturers; also test the temperature Pressure Relief valve once a month, I don't remember how often is recommended to drain the tank, but i would do it at least every 6 months, 3 if you have the time. The sediments that will deposit on the bottom of the tank will reduce it's efficiency and also accelerate deterioration of the tank.

Ps: Why do people call it the "hot" water heater. If it's already hot, why would you want to heat it????

Lynnwood, WA(Zone 7a)

Thanks sev. I asked this question of the maintenance guys at the apartment where I used to live and they said no. They had never heard of it. And they were the "maintainers" of 468 water heaters. How's that sev. Are they "water heaters" then. Or "hot water tanks"? LOL

Duluth, GA(Zone 7b)

For the record, I have never drained mine, the whole process is a pain in the neck.....
Good luck with it !!!

Greenfield, OH(Zone 6a)

It is recommended but not effective with the style of valves on many water heater. Note that if you have softened water than you shouldn't have to drain it.
The cheap valves that come with water heaters can be replaced with a full port ball valve which works much better.
I've replaced hundreds of water heaters and to be honest with you, simply putting a hose on the drain valve and draining the water will not remove that much calcium build-up in the bottom. The best you could do is to turn the water on and flush it through the hose a couple times.
The best way to clean out a water heater is to remove the bottom element (on electric water heaters) after draining and use a wire to drag out the debris. (if its a gas water heater you'll have to do your best to flush it out)
They do make water heaters that are suppose to reduce the collection of debris by creating a kind of "swirl" that keep the solids from settling. I haven't seen much success with these but the may be better than the old style.

Thumbnail by yardener
Missouri City, TX

In addition to draining twice a year, it is a good idea to remove and check the anode rod. They are designed to waste away, so mignt not be much left is never checked and the heater is over 8 years old.

Around here the tanks usually spring a leak in 12-15 years. Have had several replaced. All that sediment at the bottom will cause the unit to weigh as much as 300#.

I replaced one of this monsters myself ONCE! It is cost effective to have it done professionally now - it is in the attic of a two-story house.

Bentonville, AR

I recently removed my water heater. Even after draining the water it still weighed a ton with all the sediment. I definitely made a note to myself... If ever I build a new house tge water heater will be very near a door with close access to driveway for ease of removal. As for draining one periodically I would think that would also depend on the quality of your water. Good luck and enjoy!

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

We replaced a 30 year old water heater with a Rinnai Tankless Water Heater
and are grateful for it every day. Trouble free and the only maintenance is to
flush it annually with a vinegar/water solution to keep it free of buildup from our
very alkaline water. It definitely makes a difference in our utility bill because it
heats water only as needed. Most new construction in our area now includes
tankless water heaters.


Durhamville, NY(Zone 5b)

We have hard sulfur water. We went the route of a tankless water heater 20 years ago and they were nothing but a maintenance headache. The hard water clogged the very small opening in the flow control switch. The flow switch was a magnetic steel ball that rose when the water was turned on, and switched a micro switch on. They also burned out the triacs in them and a circuit board. I got very good at diagnosing them and repairing them. I've done it at least in a bath rob so I could take a shower. I might try one again but the whole experience left a bad taste in my moth and I don't know anyone in my area that uses one. The biggest dollar saving we have realized has been switching from electric to gas. Just my two cents

Albuquerque, NM(Zone 7a)

The technology definitely may have improved since 20 years ago!
I had my doubts but our Rinnai has been trouble-free for four years and the
annual flushing is very simple to do. For us it has been a good investment
as well as a major convenience. Different strokes for different folks! ;-)



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