One house I own, the water heater drains just fine. Put a hose on the
outlet on the bottom and turn it on. The house is on a lot that is on
a slope, so the gravity helps. But my other house in Florida is
another story. I can't get the WH to drain. What am I doing wrong?
if the heater is older your probably best off top let it be.
go messing around changing valves may cause your elderly heater to
when it gets replaced toss the regular drain valve, and install a
brass ball valve, for easier draining
A pressure fitting can be obtained from an RV supply house
which is usually used to hook an air compressor to the water
system to winter-proff an RV by clearing out the lines. They won't
drain on their own and all the water needs to be taken out.
This technique can be used on a house using the following
1) Turn off the main water line into the house
2) Hook the pressure fitting to any ourside faucet, You
may need a female-female adapter.
3) Hook the air compressor up to the Schrader valve on
the pressure fitting. Any air compressor can be used,
including those little hand portable types that we carry
in our cars. The air volume rate doesn't matter much.
4) Turn on the water heater drain. Now, instead of 4 or 5 psi
forcing the water out, you will have 30-40 psi forcing it
out. If the water does not contain rust or rust particles,
you might as well stop. If the water starts running clear,
you can stop. No further rustandjunk will be coming out.
So, that's how one would use air pressure to speed up the process,
and , possibly, to blast thru a small stoppage at the drain valve.
If nothing comes out the drain valve at all, use the previous
poster's idea of reverse flushing. To do this, turn off the
inlet valve to the water heater and open a hot water tap
somewhere. This will reduce the pressure inside the heater
to zero, and allow the flushing hose to force water into it.
Just think it through. It ain't rocket surgery, but it ain't
Andy in Eureka, Texas
Why does he need to go through all that, when the same or higher
pressure is right there on the drain valve all the time? Typical
residential water pressure is 40-60 PSI. If water won't come out when
the drain valve is open with the supply line turned on, then the valve
Per hallerb's advice, if that's the case, it's probably best to leave
it alone. We don't know the age of the unit, but if it's well into
it's lifespan, trying to replace the valve he could end up buying a
new one now.
Thanks for all the replies.
I opened the drain with a hose on it and nothing. Then I took the hose
off and opened it and nothing. I'll try some of these suggestions.
It's not an old WH. I've just never bothered draining it. It's about
10 YO max. Thanks
It also has one of those levers on it that releases the pressure. I
moved that and water came out the pipe. But that releases water from
the top, not the bottom and the pipe that comes from it is too close
to the floor to put anything under it anyway.
Guess I'll try the simplest thing first..uh.. opening a tap. Not sure
if that makes a diff. But I can see it may. I always have one open in
the other place but that is because I'm winterizing it. This place
doesn't get that kind of weather.
If you opened the drain valve (or tried to and failed) and no water came
out, then it's not going to do any good opening faucets and whatnot:
that valve just isn't open, and you're not going to get a drop to drain
out. So you need to work on getting that valve opened, perhaps
destructively. And then replaced (or the whole water heater replaced).
The fashion in killing has an insouciant, flirty style this spring,
with the flaunting of well-defined muscle, wrapped in flags.
On Sun, 24 Oct 2010 18:32:46 -0700 (PDT), in2dadark
I think someone else said this. Hook an air compressor to your drain
hose, open a hot water faucet, and pump air into the tank. The
backward flow should open any mineral clog. Once it opens, remove air
hose and turn the water back on, and try to flush out the tank UNDER
PRESSURE (water on). Once you get all the crud out, you should be
able to drain it. ALWAYS turn on a hot faucet in the house to let air
into the tank. Otherwise it will take forever to drain. just like
trying to pour gas from a gas can without opening the vent.
I have seen tanks that were so full of crud that you just can not
drain them. That means repalcement. Of course you could remove the
tank and flush it from the top (pipe inlets), but you'll never get all
the crud out.
Opening a tap some where else in the house allows air to come in.
What's the goal, here? If you're trying to remove sediment, then just
put a hose on the lower drain faucet and open the faucet. If you're
trying to empty the tank of water, then opening a faucet lets air in.
You may need to build some kind of adaptor, and use a compressor to
pump air in, to force the water out.
10 years is near or past end of life, i just replaced a 9 year old one
with such a old tank the best badvice is leave it be, till it starts
mess with it now might bring about a leak immediately, and tank will
have to be replaced........
install ball valve on next tank for easy perodic draining
I have a 3-unit property with 3 hot water heaters. When doing plumbing
recently, one of the 3 would not drain. And, just like you, opening the
pressure relief valve did cause water to come out of the top.
This particular water heater had a white plastic drain valve at the bottom.
I tried taking apart the valve (very easy to do) by unscrewing what looks
like a plastic cap that is around the valve stem. When I took that off,
gooey goopey gunk came out of the valve and water gushed out. It was the
valve itself that was clogged up with gunk and causing it not to drain.
Then I just put the valve back together and it worked and drained fine.
If you have a brass valve instead of a plastic one, you can do the same
thing. Unscrew the same part that is around the valve stem. Unscrewing
that allows you to take the valve stem out and if there is gunk in there it
will either clear itself out or you can clear it out.
I had the same thing happen on a new WH that had been installed about
4 months ago, so I knew it wasn't a buildup of gunk. Had to be a
stuck valve. I bought a brass hose cap, drilled a hole for 1/4" copper
tubing, and soldered a 2" piece to the cap. Hose clamped a 6" piece of
rubber tubing over that and screwed it onto the WH drain valve. Turned
off the water to the tank and opened the drain valve and the pressure
relief valve. Applied compressed air to the rubber hose and it popped
loose the stuck washer in the drain valve. Drained the tank and
replaced the crappy plastic valve with a standard metal one.
I know the standard advice is to drain a bit out of the tank every
year to keep sediment from building up and hopefully prolong the life
of the tank. Basically, preventive maintenance.
The risk is every time you open that valve, you get sediment into it,
and the valve may leak.
Nobody I know actually does this, including myself. We all seem to
get the full lifespan out of a tank (provided the anode is correctly
The problem you'll have is when replacement time comes, you can't
drain the tank through the valve. That thing is heavy when full of
water, you don't want to be dragging it out full. <g> I predict a
future question to this list, about 10 years from now. "how do I get
the tank empty so I can carry it up the basement stairs?"
You are so, so right. That's going to be the question, ten years from
The WH, I've replaced. A couple I took off the drain valve with a BIG
hammer, and then the water ran out. One, I drilled several holes with
long drill bit. Right through the shell, fiberglas, and through the
tank. I figured since it was going into the trash, I dadn't have to
worry about damaging the tank.
I think my WH is GE brand. When it leaked (just short of the end of
warranty). They authorized the purchase price (about $200) towards the
new tank (about $400). I took it, but didn't really feel warm and
fuzzy about the matter. I'd have preferred a swap out at no cost to
me. Preferred or not, I took their terms. Having hot water is a good
thing, I think.
you cut the lines and push the dead tank over after first opening TP
this gives you the T&P valve to drain and both inputs and
of course normally the tank begins leaking requiring replacement.
in which case shut off water to ntak and open valves. the leak will
automatically drain the tank at no extra chargew:)"
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