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How to Drain a Water Heater without Drain Valve? in 4 Steps

Writen by Ronald Brown

Fact checked by Natalie Bridges

How to Drain a Water Heater without Drain Valve

Do you get flustered when noticing sediments in your hot water, and knowing you already have a busted drain valve? You can still maintain your unit’s integrity if you know how to drain a water heater without drain valve.

The drain valve allows you to empty your tank in preparation for routine maintenance and cleaning. Sadly, drain valves tend to go bad over time. You can still drain your water heater tank without getting a plumber to fix your broken drain valve. You only need to follow these simple steps to remove water from your tank.

Table of Contents

Things You Need to Drain Water Heater with a Broken Drain Valve


Draining a water heater without a drain valve requires a few items, often depending on the type of drain valve you have.

1. A Large Bucket

A bucket is essential if you do not have a drain on the floor or if your hose is not long enough to reach it. The larger the bucket, the more water you can empty at a time.

2. Self-tapping Serrated Inserts

You need this material if you have a plastic drain valve. Self-tapping serrated inserts allow you to create a strong thread in the plastic, making it easier to remove the drain valve.

3. A Screwdriver

A flat-tipped screwdriver is essential in unscrewing improvised grooves on a brass drain valve. You can also use it to remove the cut plastic of a broken plastic drain valve.

4. A Rug

You will need a rug to soak up the water drippings from the tank. You do not want to flood your floor when draining your water heater.

5. A Funnel

A large-mouthed funnel helps collect and drain from the tank to the drain or the large bucket.

6. Manual Drill and Bit

A handheld non-electric drill with the correct bit is safer to use because you do not have to worry about electric shocks when water drips into your device.

7. Hose Pipe

A long hose pipe is ideal for channeling drained water into the bucket or the floor drain.

8. Hacksaw Blade

You can use this tool to create grooves in a brass drain valve. You can also use it to split a broken plastic drain valve.

Step-by-Step Guide


Step 1: Turn Off Power Supply to the Water Heater

Start by turning off the power supply to your water heater. If you have an electric heater, you have to switch off the circuit breaker that supplies power to your water heater.

If you have a gas water heater, locate your system’s pilot knob and turn it to its pilot setting. Switching your water heater to the pilot prevents igniting the burners while keeping the system running. You can also close the gas supply to your water heater by turning the gas valve off.

Pro Tip: Turn off the power supply to your water heater at least four hours before you start draining the water. It will give ample time for the water in the tank to cool down and make it safer for you to work on your unit.

Step 2: Turn Off Water Supply

Check your water heater tank and look for the cold water supply pipe. You should be able to see a valve along the line near the top of the tank

Some plumbers recommend closing the main water supply valve to the house. You can do this, but only if there’s no one else in your household who may need water while you work on your water heater.

It would also help if you closed the hot water valve.

Pro Tip: Open your water heater tank’s temperature and pressure (T&P) relief valve. You should see this valve on your tank’s top or side. Opening the T&P valve prevents the suction effect that can hinder efficient drainage.

Step 3: Remove the Busted Drain Valve

There are two ways to remove a busted plastic drain valve from your tank. First, you can insert a self-tapping serrated screw through the nipple to block it. Get your screwdriver and unscrew the whole thing.

Second, you can drill a hole through the plastic drain valve using a non-electric drill. A manual drill lets you avoid electric shocks that may occur when water accidentally drips into your device.

Pro Tip: If you have a broken plastic drain valve, you might want to see off small sections of the valve using a hacksaw blade. You can then use a flat-tipped screwdriver to pry the different sections and use long-nosed pliers to remove them.

If your water heater tank has a brass drain valve, you can use a hacksaw blade to cut a cross-shaped groove. Ensure you do not cut all the way through the thread. Insert your screwdriver head into the grooves and turn it counterclockwise and loosen the drain valve.

Step 4: Drain the Water

Place the rug under the drain valve to minimize flooding your floor. Insert your hose pipe through the spout of the funnel. Place one end of the hose in the large bucket and insert the other end into the drain valve to start emptying the tank.

You can also position the other end of the hose in your drain to channel water away from the floor.

Pro Tip: Ask someone to open a hot water faucet in your house to push the air out. If you have a broken water heater drain valve, you might want to replace it right after emptying the tank.


Did you find our easy steps on how to drain a water heater without drain valve helpful? Draining water from your water heater tank lets you remove sediment buildup and extend your system’s service life. By adhering to these simple steps, you can ensure your water heater’s optimum functioning without ever calling for professional help.

If you find these steps beneficial, you might want to share this with friends and relatives. They might want to keep their water heater full functionality without breaking the bank, too. Please share your thoughts with us as well.

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