How to drain a water heater

Attempt at your own risk – if you are uncomfortable with this type of stuff, hire someone! Because if you flood your house that’s on you, dude!

Without further ado, there are four general steps you need to do to get a water heater drained right-quick.

  • Turn off the burner and gas supply (or electricity).
  • Turn off the water.
  • Connect your hose.
  • Open the drain valve and let ‘er rip.

Doesn’t seem all that hard – but pictures always help me so I prepared some photos for this tutorial.
The photo below points out the basic areas with which you need to familiarize yourself to drain a water heater.

1. Turn off the burner:
Do this by setting your thermostat dial to ‘Pilot’ as shown:

2. Turn off the gas supply (or cut power if electric):
Next, turn off the gas supply to the heater – the photo below shows the gas ON because I am a dope and forgot to take a detail photo of mine in the off position when I last drained it. Perpendicular = off.
(Please don’t skip this step…no one enjoys gettin’ blowed up. No, for serious though!)

3. Turn off the water:
Now you can turn off the water coming into your heater. Locate your water shutoff valve by following the cold water line coming out of your heater. You can see below that mine happens to be color coded red/blue and embossed with the hot/cold labels.

Turn valve so that it’s perpendicular to the water line. Now it’s off. The photo below shows the water supply turned off. If you have a round valve you will need to turn it clockwise.

Skurrrrt! Pause here for a dummy-check and make sure you have completed all of the prior steps. [burner dial = pilot/off, gas supply toggle = off (perpendicular), water supply toggle = off (perpendicular)]

4. Connect your hose:
Screw your hose onto the drain valve and make sure its good and tight. Don’t open that valve yet!

Run the other end of the hose to where it is AWAY from people – especially kids or pets. If you can’t find a good place, have someone hang out by other end of the hose while it’s draining to ensure no curious kiddos get too close. It will be SUPER HOT! (Like me…ha ha – kidding.)

Now return to the heater and open the drain valve (where you attached your hose). Then open the pressure release valve, located toward the top of your heater. Mine is shown below, in the closed position. Eureka! Now your heater is draining. Go you!

Once the hose stops draining – you are all done! (If you are draining to remove sediment you may want to allow some cold water back in to wash out the last bits.)

Once you are ready, reverse the steps to fill that baby back up: Close valve and disconnect hose. Turn water back on to let the tank fill back up. Turn gas on (or electric breaker). Light the pilot.

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❤ Roni

9 thoughts on “How to drain a water heater

  1. Nice one. Good to know perpendicular seems to be “Off” almost everywhere – at least in US and Germany 😉
    Do you also use counter-clockwise threads for gas installations in the US? Prevents connecting water to gas and vice versa – really, really usefull. Really.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ha! Yeah, my house is on a slab so the utilities are upstairs in the attic. You probably have a easy to reach drain though. It was a strange site for my neighbors walking their dogs at 6 am – seeing me fussing with a 100ft garden hose on a staircase through my open door. Always entertainment ’round here!


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