Water Heater Maintenance: Why Won't My Water Heater Drain?

You understand the importance of water heater maintenance and you’re ready to take one of the most important steps - draining the tank. We applaud you for being a top-notch homeowner and staying on top of vital tasks. But, you went to drain the tank only to realize that it just won’t seem to drain! What could be the problem? Find out below!

How to Drain a Water Heater

How To Drain A Water Heater

When everything is working properly, draining a water heater tank is quite the simple process. In most cases, all you need to do is turn off the power to the system, turn on the cold water supply by opening up the valve, hook up a garden hose to carry the water and sediment away from the tank and then open up the drain valve and the pressure relief valve.

Once the tank is empty and clean cold water is running through, the process is virtually over. Close the drain valve back up as well as the pressure relief valve and allow the tank to fill back up. Then relight the pilot light if you have a gas system, or turn on the power if you have an electric system and voila!

Easy enough, right?

How To Unclog A Water Heater Drain Valve

If you’re not so fortunate, and are experiencing issues where the tank won’t drain there’s a good chance the drain valve is clogged or blocked. This usually comes as a result of sediment from inside the tank blocking the valve, or as a result of calcium buildup on or around the drain valve.

So, what can you do to unclog the drain?

There are a number of different approaches you can take, depending on your unique situation:

  • Give It Time: if the clog is very minor, sometimes you just need to wait a little while in order for the pressure from the water and sediment escaping the tank, to clear the clog. In most cases, if the tank isn’t draining properly within an hour, you’ve got a more serious clog on your hands.

  • Use A Coat Hanger: sure, they’re designed to hang clothes, but wire coat hangers are also great tools for dislodging clogs. Open the drain valve and insert the wire into the tank. Move it around a bit in order to loosen any debris or sediment that may have formed around the drain.

  • Back-Flush The Drain: the idea here is to use water to push sediment away from the drain valve so that your tank can drain freely. You’ll need to use a wash machine fill hose which has a female connection on both ends. Close the drain valve and attach one end of the hose — then attach the other end to a nearby sink faucet. Turn the faucet on and open the drain valve allowing water to flow into the tank for about 10 seconds. Then turn off the faucet, close the drain valve, and disconnect the hose. Then proceed with the normal drainage steps.

If this still doesn’t solve the problem, it may require the skill and expertise of a seasoned plumber or you may simply have a faulty drain valve which would need to be replaced. In either scenario, don’t give up! Failure to drain the sediment from thank regularly could lead to some major problems including extra wear and tear on the tank. All of this could lead to the need for a brand new water heater well before you really need to replace the one you’ve got! But don’t worry, we’re here to help!

Your water heater is an important element of your home. When it breaks down, you need repairs fast. At Aztec Plumbing & Drains, we’re proud to offer 24/7 emergency service and same-day service for water heater repairs. We’ll get in and out the very same day you call us. Plus, you won’t be charged a penny extra for a water heater repair or installation done at night, on weekends, or on holidays.