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How Long Does It Take To Drain A Water Heater

By December 13, 2022Water heater
Standard hot water heater.

One of the many items that homeowners do not look into is whether or not the water heater should be drained. Often homeowners forget that a water heater should be drained. Proper home maintenance should have a checklist so that homeowners do not forget. Draining a water heater is not something most homeowners care about. How long does it take to drain a water heater? In most cases, it will take about 15 minutes to properly drain a water heater.

Let’s take a look below at what is involved with draining a water heater.

Why Do I Need To Drain My Water Heater

Believe it or not, there are a few reasons why draining your water heater is important. Let’s take a look at what those reasons might be.

  • Sediment – you want to drain your water heater so that sediment does not have the capability of building up and clogging your tank.
  • Fresh water – flushing the water heater tank allows you to remove all minerals like calcium and magnesium. These minerals will create sediment that settles at the bottom. The tank will become clogged and corrode a lot faster if this occurs. Also, you get some fresh water into the tank.
Knowing what to do will allow you to properly drain your water heater in a timely manner.

What Are The Steps To Draining My Water Heater

Knowing how to drain your water heater is the first step in the process. Just like with any project, you will want to know the steps for success. Let’s take a look at what those steps are.

  1. Turn off the cold water valve – you will find this located at the top of the tank.
  2. Turn off the power – if it’s an electric water heater then you will flip the breaker switch off. If it is a gas-powered water heater you will turn the gas valve to the lowest temperature setting and into the pilot position.
  3. Connect a garden hose – there is a spigot at the bottom of your water heater. Connect your garden hose to the spigot and run your hose out of the garage or towards the basement drain.
  4. Open your hot water faucet in the kitchen – typically any hot water tap in the main area of the house when opened will create pressure to force the water out of the tank.
  5. Open the hot water drain valve – this will push the water out of the garden hose. Typically, a tank will take 20 to 60 minutes to drain depending on the sediment buildup. Be sure to open and close the drain valve carefully. You don’t want to damage it.
  6. Turn the cold water valve 3 times – doing this will mix the sediment that has settled and push it out of the garden hose.
  7. Getting rid of all sediment – open and close the drain valve three times to make sure all sediment is out.
  8. Continue until clear water – repeat all of the steps until you see clear water coming out of the garden hose.
  9. Close the tank drain valve – once you see clear water coming out, close the tank drain valve.
  10. Turn on the cold water valve – opening the cold water valve at the top of the tank allows for your tank to refill. Once it is full you will see a steady flow of water from the hot water tap. You can now turn off the tap.
  11. Turn the power back on – if you have an electric water heater, flip the breaker switch back to the on position. If you have a gas-powered water heater turn the gas valve back to the on position.
  12. Disconnect your garden hose – disconnect the garden hose and make sure the valve is closed.

How Long Should It Take

Typically, a water heater should only take about 30 minutes to completely drain. A standard 40 to 60-gallon residential tank should not take more than 15 minutes. Also, the longer times are typically due to sediment buildup or they are just bigger tanks.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you know how long it takes to drain your water heater you can begin to understand how the rest of the water heater works. For example, how to test a water heater thermostat is a good thing to know. You might just need to replace it and save money by doing so.

Next, be sure to read up on some great maintenance ideas for your water heater. There are a few things in addition to draining the water heater that you will need to complete the proper maintenance of your water heater.

Lastly, if you do not maintain your water heater properly, there is a possibility that it could explode. This is typically due to a pressure buildup from a failed piece of equipment. Make sure that you maintain your water heater to avoid any potential explosion.

Hire a professional if you don't know how to drain a water heater.

When Do I Call A Professional

If you aren’t sure how to properly drain your water heater it is a great idea to call a local professionally licensed master plumber. Consequently, you should never take on a project that you aren’t sure about getting done. Too many things could go wrong or break. Additionally, call on your local home inspection team. They can inspect your water heater and plumbing system during a full home inspection. Also, they can refer a reputable master plumber.


Being a brave homeowner who takes on any project is a great trait to have. However, if you don’t completely understand the working parts and pieces of your plumbing system, you could end up doing more damage than good. Reach out to your local home inspection team for a complete assessment and inspection of your plumbing system. Call on All Coast Home Inspections for a water heater and home inspection in Houston, TX.

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