Tips for Maintaining Your Water Heater


    Your water heater may be one of the appliances in your home you take for granted — until it stops working and you wind up in a chilly shower. Here are some maintenance tips to consider when it comes to your home water heater.

    Why Do It?

    A water heater needs to be properly drained as part of its regular maintenance. Draining helps ensure the long life of your water heater by flushing out minerals and other debris that may cause it to malfunction, says DIY Network. If you do not properly maintain your water heater, it may cease to function altogether or result in cold bursts of water when least expected.

    How Often?

    Professional recommendations vary. says to drain your water heater once a year, while Angie’s List suggests draining more frequently depending on how hard the water is in your area. Remember, always check your owner’s manual to see what the manufacturer suggests.

    DIY Draining

    Once you’ve located your water heater and read over your owner’s manual, the DIY Network suggests the following steps on how to drain it. Don’t forget, if you’re uncomfortable performing this type of maintenance on your water heater, make sure to call a plumber and schedule a professional draining.

    1. Shut off the water supply to your water heater. Look at the top of the water heater. You’ll see a water pipe and a water shutoff valve going into the heater. Turn this valve to shut off the water to the tank.

    2. Turn off the power to the water heater. If your heater is electric, shut the power off from the circuit breaker box. The correct fuse should be labeled as belonging to the water heater. It’s important to know that if you fail to shut off the power to your electric water heater, you risk burning out the element. If it’s a gas-powered water heater, shut off the gas by turning the valve on the gas supply line that runs to the tank.

    3. Give the water some time to cool off. The water in your water heater is extremely hot. To help prevent injury, it’s a good idea to let your water heater sit overnight to allow the water within the tank some time to cool before you drain it.

    4. Attach a hose to the drain valve. Once your water heater has cooled down,place one end of the hose into a floor drain or, if it will reach, directly outside. Attach the other end onto the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater.

    5. Turn on the hot water tap. To help alleviate pressure, open on a hot water tap, like a sink faucet, nearest to your water heater.

    6. Open the drain valve. Once you open this valve, the water will begin to flow out of the tank. Be patient; draining the water heater can take up to 30 minutes depending on how full and dirty the water heater is.

    7. Turn the water back on to flush the tank with fresh, clean water. With the drain valve still open, turn the water back on to eliminate any remaining sediment on the bottom of the tank. Once the water runs clear, turn the water valve off.

    8. Refill the tank. Remove the hose from the drain valve. Turn the water back on and start refilling the tank. Once the tank is full, turn the power to the water heater back on.

    Something as simple as draining your water heater annually may help you and your family enjoy hot water in your home for years to come.

    This article highlights examples of precautions you can consider to help maintain your personal property. Please recognize that a particular precaution may not be appropriate or effective in every circumstance and that taking preventive measures cannot guarantee any outcome. We encourage you to use your own good judgment about what’s appropriate and always consider safety.

    Digital Content Project Manager

    Jen produces home, renters, condo and financial content for The Allstate Blog.