When is the last time your water heater was drained? If you can’t remember, chances are it’s due for a drain.
The typical home water heater should be drained once every six months to a year. It prevents the buildup of sediment at the bottom of the water heater tank. While you can take on this home improvement project yourself, calling in a professional might be a better decision.
Read below for everything you need to know about the process and price to drain a water heater.
Why Drain a Water Heater
With all the home improvement projects on your list, you might be wondering why draining the water heater is necessary. This process is mostly preventive. If you wait too long to drain the water heater you could have even more expensive repairs in your future.
If you don’t regularly drain your water heater you could have higher energy costs and less hot water. You might also notice strange sounds coming from the water heater that signal a problem. If you think you have a plumbing or heating emergency, read more here.
In areas with hard water (water with a lot of sediment), it’s even more important to drain your water heater. The sediment collects over time and causes the issues listed above.
Don’t wait – find out how to drain a water heater now.
How to Drain a Water Heater
Draining a water heater can be a time-consuming, potentially messy process. It’s possible to DIY at home, but a professional service can do it easily within an hour or two.
If you want to drain the water heater yourself, the first step is to flush it. During this process, you open the drain valve for a few seconds and then close it. This allows any stubborn sediment in the valve to clear. When the valve clears, the water can drain much faster.
After the flushing process is complete, turn off the water heater. If you’re wondering how to drain a gas water heater, this step will be slightly different. Turn off the gas supply and the water supply while draining the tank.
For an electric water heater, shut off the power to the heater. If you have an electric water heater, it’s most likely wired to your circuit breaker. Locate the water heater circuit from your electric panel and turn it off.
Once the water and power source are off, attach a drain hose to the drain valve. You can use a standard backyard hose for this process. Once the valve opens, the draining process begins. Make sure to have a safe area to drain the water.
To speed up the draining process you can remove the end of the hot water pipe and adjust the position allowing a faster flow of water. Additionally, you can start a hot water tap, like a sink or tub, on the floor above the water heater to decrease the pressure and speed up the flow of water.
Once all the water is out of the water heater, it should be flushed again before refilling. The flushing process takes time but ensures a clean tank free of sediment.
Finally, it’s time to refill the tank. Disconnect the drain hose and shut off the drain valve. If you adjusted the water pipe, secure it back in place. You can then turn the water back on.
The last step in this how to drain a hot water heater guide is to turn the gas or power back on. It may take up to an hour for the hot water to be restored. Once the process is complete, use a sink or tub to test the water’s temperature.
How Much Does a Plumber Charge to Drain a Water Heater?
If the process above seems daunting, consider hiring a professional plumber to do the work for you. They can make sure that everything is done safely and efficiently. Most of all, they can prevent leaks from the drain valve which is very common during the draining process.
The cost to drain a water heater is usually between $150 and $350. However, if you need your water heater drained as part of a bigger job, you’re looking at a higher price.
For example, if the water heater is broken and requires draining as part of the repair it could cost between $500 and $700. And if you need to install a new water heater it will likely cost at least $1,100.
Some plumbers charge by the hour instead of for the job itself. So you are required to pay for any parts in addition to their hourly labor costs.
When Should Water Heater Be Drained
Plumbers can drain water heaters for a number of reasons. If you’re wondering whether your water heater needs to be drained you can look for a few common symptoms.
First, listen for popping or knocking noises coming from the heater. If there is sediment build-up water can get trapped underneath it and when it boils it makes strange noises. If you notice your water is cloudy or discolored, this could be from sediment too. If you suspect there is something wrong with the water, call a plumber right away and don’t consume the water.
And finally, if you have less hot water than normal the sediment could be preventing the water from heating up.
Call the Plumber – It’s Worth It
Now you’re familiar with the process to drain a water heater. So, you have the choice to do it yourself or call in an expert. Having a professional drain a water heater will likely cost less than $300.
If you suspect a larger problem with the water heater, plumbing, or heating elements, you can call a professional for that too. There are 24-hour services available to assist you.
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