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Draining My Hot Water Tank To Save Money

Draining Hot Water Tanks To Save Money

Hot Water Tank

Okay I confess, I’ve never drained my hot water tank at all. I’ve lived in my house over 11 years, but I just didn’t pay attention to such details. The problem is that sediment settles at the bottom of the tank, and over time this sediment make the bottom of the tank thicker. This in turn means that the flame at the bottom of the take becomes less effective at heating the water because of the thickness. 

While I don’t advise this task for just anyone, I did successfully clean out my tank today. This can be a dangerous task, so you don’t want to be drinking and/or take the task lightly! In fact, I don’t know if I’d really recommend doing this to many friends, just because of the risks involved if keep your wits about you! 

Steps to Drain My Hot Water Tank:

  1. Turn off the water to the water tank.
  2. Turn off the main gas to the water tank.
  3. Turn off the gas at the gauge that controls the flame to the water tank.
  4. Attach a hose to the release facet, and put the end of the hose in a drain (I put my half a foot into it).
  5. Put a bucket underneath the pressure release valve and tube.
  6. Release any access air via the pressure release valve.
  7. Open the facet so that the water drains.
  8. Go upstairs and turn on the heat facet (nothing should come out, and air should go down to speed up the draining of the tank process).
  9. Fully draining the tank may take 1/2 hour, the time really depends on the size of your tank.
  10. After the water stops flowing, close the facet and carefully take off the hose so that water doesn’t go everywhere.
  11. Turn the water back on
  12. Close the facet upstairs
  13. Turn the main gas valve back on.
  14. Make sure you don’t smell gas near the pilot light.
  15. Next light the pilot light that way that your water tank recommends.  Once my tank, I had to remove the sheet metal panel, turn the dial to where it says pilot light and push down and hold it while I lit the pilot light stem.
  16. Next I slid the shield back on and went over everything one last time just to make sure I didn’t miss anything.

So how does this activity save me money?

  • Draining the tank may prolong the life of the tank itself, and this will save me money!
  • Removing the sediment means I can turn the hot water heater to a lower setting, and that will save me money too.

This is a great task to get out of the way for the new year.  While not very exciting, it’s still important. 

Update:  I opened up the hot facets upstairs at all exit points to make sure that all the sediment is out of the system too


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25 Responses to Draining My Hot Water Tank To Save Money

  1. Sounds like quite a job! We have an electric water tank, and I seem to recall that it has a device inside to stir the sediment. But…. I could be wrong …. but it sounds good, doesn’t it??

    • Interesting, I guess if it’s constantly moving, there won’t be much minerals and sediment that gets pushed through the water system.

      Sounds like a good solution, my hot water heater doesn’t have that option.

    • Thanks 🙂

      My wife said that the shower doesn’t get as hot as it use to. I take short showers and ones where the water is just warm, so I didn’t notice that it wasn’t as hot as it use to be.

  2. Congratulations on taking on such a monumental task. I know it is important thing to do, but I think we would have to hire it out (unless you want to drive to Michigan to take care of it for us.)

    Great post MR!

    • That might be the wiser route to take, I was very nervous when I relight the tank back up! I can say that I was definitely sniffing for a gas smell before I started the pilot light on the tank!

    • I think it would depend on how much sediment you see coming out when you drain it. We got a lot of sediment that came out so I’ll be doing the same task next year.

      If the sediment wasn’t too bad, I probably would put it doing the task to every other year…

    • I never thought of it either until a few years ago. Even then I didn’t do that task until this year. Better late than never!

  3. Thanks for the information. One of my husband’s resolutions is to become more of a DIYer. This sounds like a great item to put on the “Honey-do” list! 🙂

    • You’re quite welcome 🙂

      I’ve done DIY stuff in the past, I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to do this one! It’s relatively easy, but tell your husband to be careful anyways, since you are dealing with natural gas…

  4. Thanks for the reminder to get our water heater serviced!

    When we were buying our house our home inspector told us to listen to our water heater. If there’s a weird sound (like a rattling, I think) that means there’s a sediment build up and we would have to drain it.

    I haven’t listened to our water heater but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a lot of build up. My shower never seems to get very hot and we run out of hot water pretty quickly. However, for us, it’s probably something best left to a pro.

    Sigh… home maintenance is way more intense, and expensive, then I naively thought.

  5. Interesting DIY task. I can imagine how that could save some money, since it’s such a dicey task.

    Wondering how long it took you to do this, and how much you think it might cost to get done from a service provider?

    • Oh, I’d estimate about 1 hour.

      But part of that time (1/2 hour) was letting the tank drain, and during that time I went upstairs and did other things.

      It probably saved me at least $100…

  6. …and for electric water heaters it’s very important to replace the ‘Anode’ rod about every 5-7 years.

    Otherwise the metal shell of the heater will corrode, leak, and require complete replacement of the water heater.

    That Anode is designed to corrode instead of the heater shell — you’ll notice a lot of greyish sediment when you drain the heater… from that disintegrating anode rod.