Find out how to use a water heater drain valve for fast and easy draining. See how to replace a water heater drain valve and drain a tank with a clogged valve. Learn how to fix problems such as leaking, unit not working, and sediment buildup.
Two types of drain valves are mostly found on tank-type gas and electric water heaters, made of plastic and brass.
The recommendation is to buy a water heater equipped with the brass drain valve as they are stronger and more durable, while the plastic drain valves are easy to damage, especially around the threads making them more likely to leak. If the water heater has a built-in plastic valve, you might want to replace it with a brass valve.
Some plumbers suggest using the ball valves as these are better and bigger for successful and fast draining and provide hassle-free maintenance.
Some manufacturers, such as AO Smith, utilize a reliable tamper-resistant brass drain valve with the standard size of 3/4" in almost every water heater.
There are several reasons why to drain a water heater:
Before you drain a water heater, make sure that the water inside the tank is not hot. The best will be if you turn the unit off for a few hours and, after that, perform the following.
Note that when filling the heater with water again, make sure that the drain valve is closed. It is recommended that the water heater is drained and flushed every 6 months or once a year.
The valve is designed to be installed at a certain height from the bottom of the tank, so there will always be some water left even if you try to drain the unit thoroughly. Water left at the bottom of the tank will contain most of the harmful and corrosive particles, which can again clog the drain valve. This is why the recommendation is to flush the whole system and remove those deposits.
Replacing a drain valve on electric and gas heaters is very easy, and it doesn't require any special tools or skills. It is important to have the water inside the tank cooled so it doesn't produce any burns. To replace the part, you can either fully or partially drain the water from the tank. The reasons for replacing the valve might be leaking, clogged, or a broken valve.
All heaters have a drain plug at the bottom of the unit. Such a location allows you to perform routine maintenance and drain the tank easily. However, there are problems: the valve might be damaged or leaking.
If there is a missing drain valve, it may be difficult to get the sediment deposits out of the bottom of the tank. If the valve is damaged, it may not be able to operate. If it is leaking, then there is a problem that has to be fixed.
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When the water heater drain valve is clogged, it is easy to recognize that nothing comes out, water flows sporadically, or trickles instead of a steady stream.
The main reason for blocking the stop mechanism within the valve is the sediment buildup. As the water gets warmer and eventually hot, mineral deposits will start extracting at the bottom of the tank. If there is no regular maintenance, sediment buildup can develop heavily, clogging up the drain valve and affecting the performance and efficiency significantly.
There are a few methods that can be used to fix this problem:
Keep in mind that all these drain valve problems could be prevented from happening by performing the regular maintenance.