Flushing water heater tank--questions about maintenance

I bought and installed a 40 gallon water heater tank last summer and the drain valve is some kind of a cheap plastic knob that won't turn easily and if it did it might shoot hot water out 90 degrees and miss the catch bucket. (My old tank was easy to draw 4-5 gallons a month.) I asked the salesman about the drain faucet and he said all the models they sold have the same kind of drain valve. Anyone give me the proper procedure for flushing the tank? Will this make any difference in the long run? Should I turn off the gas, allow the tank to cool and hook up a hose leading to the outside? TIA
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Phisherman wrote:

You should replace that plastic POS with a quarter turn brass ball valve. I do that to all my water heater installations. They are usually a 3/4 pipe thread - drain the tank, unscrew the plastic valve (while you can, if you wait another year you may be SOL), screw in a short nipple, valve, then hose fitting. When it comes time to flush the tank, hook up a hose and open the valve. When you're done, put a cap on the end of the hose fitting, just in case someone hits the valve handle. Or you can remove the handle and put it on top of the heater for when its needed.
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You may wish to mention thread sealants, he might not be familiar with that concept.
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