Did you know that your tank-style water heater should be drained and cleaned every year? If you don’t, your water heater could become milky.

What exactly is milky? It is not from a cow. Milky water can be defined as water that contains hard water minerals, other sediments and rust. Gross right?

Our Pasadena plumbers have the knowledge and experience to service all types of water heaters. We want to share our knowledge with you so that you can manage your home’s plumbing.

You will find out why tank-style water heaters must be drained. When they should be drained. What equipment you need. And how to do it.

Why you should drain a water heater

Tank-style water heaters require maintenance due to drumroll, please…hardwater. Hardwater is water containing high amounts of calcium and magnesium. Your water heater will be affected by hard water.

  • It eats through and then rusts the metal
  • This reduces its efficiency

A Pasadena plumber or you can drain your tank-type water heater to prevent this from happening. But how can you tell if you have hard water? You have naturally occurring water if you’re in the US. You don’t have to believe what we say. With a water-hardness test, you can quickly test your water.

How to Tell if Your Water Heater Needs Drainage

You should drain your water heater if you see these signs:

  • Warm water – Sodium takes up space that your water needs, so you can get lukewarm more quickly.
  • Popcorn sounds When your water heater makes popping noises, it’s likely that the sediment is heating up. These sounds can sometimes be loud enough to be heard throughout the house.
  • Cloudy water Water that is cloudy may have a lot of sediment.
  • Scale on fixtures –Minerals may build up and block your fixtures.

It’s time to drain the water heater if you have these problems or it’s been more than a year since your last maintenance.

How to drain your water heater

Make sure to allow at least two hours to drain your water heater. Tank-style water heaters can prove difficult to clean due to the lengthy process. It is important to have the right tools to drain your water heater.

Depending on the size and type of water heater, different materials will be required.

For water heaters that are 30-75 gal you will need:

  • Water Bucket – Catch the water
  • Hose-To drain water
  • Channel locks – To loosen your water heater’s bolts
  • Screwdriver To loosen durian valve

To loosen stubborn bolts, you can use channel locks like this.

The above will be required if you have a 80-100 gal water heater

  • Scraper – To dislodge scale buildup
  • To remove scale buildup, and to eliminate water left behind

You are now ready to clean your water heater!

These are the 6 steps to drain a water heater

The next section will cover the six steps to drain your water heater.

  1. Turn off the water heater
    • Turning Off A Gas Water Heater– Look for the pilot knob to turn off your gas water heater. This knob should be turned on. This will prevent the water heater from starting up while you work on it.
    • Turning off an Electric Water Heater. If your electric heater is working, locate the circuit breaker in your house. Turn off your water heater by finding the circuit breaker.
  2. Turn off the water
    • Next, locate the cold water inlet valve. It is an attached valve to your cold-water line. You will need to turn the knob until it touches the ground. This ensures that water is not wasted while cleaning the tank.
    • Before you proceed to the next step, let your tank cool off. Most water heaters are set at 120-140 degrees. However, the Environmental Protection Agency recommends 120 degrees and the Occupational safety and Health Administration recommends that it be 140 degrees. Extreme temperatures can result in third-degree burns.
  3. Get your Hose Hooked
    • Locate your drain valve. This valve should be found near the bottom or your water heater. This valve should be near the bottom of your water heater. Your channel locks will ensure that the hose is secure. Use your screwdriver and then open the drain valve.
  4. Drain your water heater
    • Now, it’s time for you to get down to work. There are two options to drain your water heater.
      • Pressure Relief Valve (Regulator). This valve is located on the side your water heater. The valve can be lifted and air will flow into your water heater. This will let you know that the water heater is working if there are any bubbling sounds or coffee brewing sounds.
      • Water Flex – If your pressure relief valve isn’t working or you don’t have one, your channel locks can be used to remove a water bend from the top of your water heater. These are the flexible pipes.
    • The water heater will begin to drain once it has gotten enough air. It can take up to an hour for it to drain completely.
  5. Your water heater should be cleaned
    • You will need to clean your water heater once it is empty. There are different ways to clean the inside of your water heater depending on how big it is.
      • Small Water Heaters You’ll need to tighten the water flex if it has been loosen. You will then need to turn on the cold inlet valve again. This will flush the water heater, and mix up any remaining sediment. Let the water run for five more minutes.
      • Large water heaters – You can clean your large water heater easier because they have an access plate. This access plate allows for easy access to the interior of your water heater. To remove scale buildup, you can remove the plate using the scraper or shop vac. It will look like cottage cheese. Once the buildup is gone, seal the access plate.
  6. Turn everything around
    • After everything has been cleaned up, you can restore everything to its original state. Run a fixture around your house for approximately five minutes to eliminate any air that is still trapped in your water heater.