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How to Drain a Water Heater Fast? – Only 4 Steps

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

how to drain a water heater fast

If your water heater drains slowly, chances are the sediments impede the water flow. Although the excessive sediment build-up is the mastermind of this irking problem, other factors may slow down the draining procedure. For your information, those include tank capacity, water pressure, drain hose size, and clogged drain valve.

So, how to drain a water heater fast? It’s actually a fairly easy job. You just need to turn off your unit and prepare the necessary tools. Don’t overwhelm yourself with the procedures as I will share straightforward tips and tricks to drain a hot water heater quickly. Let’s get started!

Table of Contents

What Will You Need in This Tutorial


You don’t have to be intimidated by the so-called “tools”. Just prepare these basic multi-purpose supplies, and then you’re all set! :

1. Drain Hose

You have to prepare a hose with a threaded connector compatible with the drain valve. Also, you might also need to secure a rubber gasket to avoid leakage while draining.

The rule of thumb is that the longer the hose, the weaker the flow rate; The length of the hose should be enough to reach the drain area.

Furthermore, the hose’s internal diameter also plays a crucial part in draining the electric water heater. It determines the amount of water the hose can carry, which means that the larger the size, the more water it can expel.

Ideally, prepare at least a 3 to 4-foot section of garden hose to drain the water heater faster.

For instance, a ½ inch hose can transport 9 gallons of water per minute. In comparison, a ⅝ hose can deliver approximately 17 gallons per minute. Normally, any garden hose would work but considering these elements will help drain your unit quickly and efficiently.

2. Water Heater Drain Pump

A high-quality water pump is essential to drain electric water heater easily. Suppose your unit is located in the basement. In that case, you might need a transfer pump to boost water pressure and discharge water effectively from the tank.

Moreover, you will need two lengths of hose for the pump. One connects from the tank to the pump and another for routing the water from the basement to the sewer outside your home.

You don’t always need a pump if your water heater sits above the ground, but if you have issues with city water pressure, a pump will be handy to drain the tank faster.

3. Flat-head screwdriver

A flat-head screwdriver is handy to open the drain valve of your water heater if it doesn’t have a knob (traditional style).

4. 5-gallon Bucket

A household bucket serves as a drainage source that will accommodate the water captured by the drain hose from the tank. You will also use the bucket to test the safety valve.

5. Dry Cloth/Towels

Of course, it is always necessary to have standby pieces of cleaning cloth to help you clean up any unwanted water spillage on the floor when draining.

Step-by-Step Instruction


Many DIY tips and tricks are lurking on the internet about how you can drain your water heater faster. Still, they do not always tell you how you can do the process quickly and accurately.

You do not need to worry about it anymore! Here are the inexpensive yet comprehensive procedures you can do by yourself at home :

Stage 1: TPR Valve Inspection

Check if the temperature and pressure relief valve is working properly.

  • First, locate the valve. You can spot it somewhere near the top or side of your water heater tank; It features a lifting lever at the top.
  • Once you find it, position the bucket underneath and raise the lever partially.
  • You don’t have to fully open it since you need to observe a few drops of water from the drain tube. Once you hear a gurgling sound and notice a small amount of water coming out, flip the lever back to the “OFF” position.

Pro Tip: If the valve isn’t working (leaking and chattering), it is best to seek help from a professional. The valve itself is installed on the threaded inlet of your tank for safety reasons. Therefore, you can’t just remove or replace it without prior experience in plumbing repairs.

Stage 2: Water Heater Draining Preparation

Turn off the main power supply of your water heater.

The first and most important thing you need to do in every maintenance is to ensure that your water heater is off. Go to the electric panel of your home and find the dedicated circuit breaker for your water heater, and flick it off.

For gas units, look for the thermostat dial (usually red or black) at the bottom of the tank. Twist it from “pilot” to “off” position.

Pro Tip: I recommend wearing safety rubber gloves and shock-resistant shoes before touching the circuit breaker for electrical safety.

Cut off the cold water supply from your water heater.

You can find the cold water valve on the top right corner of your water heater; This valve may be in the form of a lever or a circular handle.

If you see a lever, turn it 90 degrees to open the water; For the circular valve, rotate it clockwise to close it completely.

Pro Tip: Allow your water heater tank to cool down for about an hour as a safety precaution to prevent scalding incidents while draining water.

Open the nearest hot water faucet to alleviate the pressure.

It will prevent vacuum conditions from leading to the back-siphonage of your water heater.

Mount the hoses to the water pump.

Depending on the type of your transfer pump, you may have a combination of elbows and fittings to couple with your drain valve. Follow the instructions written in the user manual to assemble the parts. In case, A valve is unavailable, you can learn more about this guide about how to drain a water heater without a drain valve for more details.

Once it’s done, connect the first hose (shorter) from the pump to the water heater, then the second hose (longer) from the pump, and run the other end into the large bucket (if you don’t have a drain pan or floor drain).

Pro Tip: You may use an adjustable spanner to tighten the connections.

Stage 3: Draining Water Tank Efficiently

Activate the drain valve of your heater tank.

The drain valve may look like a spigot with a gate or ball knob found at the bottom of the tank. But some older models don’t have a handle, so grab your flat-head screwdriver and open it up.

As the bucket brims, switch off the drain valve to discard the water.

Pro Tip: To determine the flow rate gushing out of the tank, monitor how much time it takes for the bucket to be full. For instance, if the large bucket fills up with 5 gallons of water in 5 minutes, then the water flow rate is 1 GPM.

Flush the tank after draining.

Generally, it can take up to 20-60 minutes to drain a tank, depending on its size. Once the tank is empty, flush it with a few gallons of water by opening the cold water valve. Turn off the valve and the hot water faucet once the water outflow runs clear and sediment-free.

Pro Tip: Open and close the cold water valve 3 times to mix the water with sediments. Do the same trick with the drain valve to help you eliminate the build-up fast.

Stage 4: Refilling The Tank

Shut off the drain valve and disconnect the hoses.

When the tank water is drained completely, close the drain valve and remove the hoses. Use a dry cleaning cloth and clean any water spillage in the room.

Turn the cold water supply and the power supply back on.

Turn on the circuit breaker of your electric water heater and reignite the pilot light for the gas unit. Finally, open the cold water supply to refill the tank. It may take about an hour if you have a large tank.

Pro Tip: Open the hot faucet when you think the tank is full; you should have a steady flow of water if it is. Close it right after you see a decent flow.


Draining a water heater tank can be a daunting task for homeowners because of how long the whole process can take. But after learning how to drain a water heater fast, you unlocked a DIY skill that will help you save time and service fees.

We should always drain and flush our water heater units periodically to ensure they are working in their top condition. I hope this guide helps you understand how to clean your hydronic system efficiently. Don’t hesitate to hit me up in the comment section if you have any questions!

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