Is It Too Late To Drain My Water Heater? Let’s Find Out

When was the last time you drained your water heater? If you can’t remember, you should keep reading. It’s not unusual for folks to go years without proper maintenance only to end up with a burst heater. Don’t be one of them.

Now, you might ask, “is it too late to drain my water heater?” That’s a good question, and it has several answers depending on your scenario. But it’s certainly never too early to flush the system.

Let’s get into when, how, and why to drain your water heater to ensure hot water and a safe home.

Is It Too Late To Drain My Water Heater

Your water heater takes water from the main supply of your house and heats it. Over time, minerals and sediments build up inside. The main culprits are lime and iron. These sediments slow down the heater and make it work inefficiently.

Ideally, you should drain your heater at least once a year. However, we all tend to forget things like these; it’s natural. You don’t need to drain water heater monthly. But if you avoid doing it long enough, you’ll start seeing symptoms of an unhealthy heater.

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Signs When You Should Drain

There’re a few signs you’ll notice and that’ll let you know when you should drain the water heater.

Lukewarm Water

You’ll know you need to start draining water heater when water stops getting hot enough. Lime build-up causes disturbances in performance. So, when there’s too much lime in the tank, you get lukewarm water instead of warm.

Sludgy Water

Another sign you need to flush water heater is when there’s sludge coming out. Sludge comes out of the faucets when the water gets contaminated with bacteria and minerals from the sewer pipes.

Boiling Noises

The scariest symptom you need to look out for is when the tank is making boiling noises. These noises mean it’s about to burst any minute. Do not try to fix it on your own; call a plumber.

It’s important to note that if you haven’t drained your heater in years, it might be a wise idea not to do it at all. If you do, it might leak.

Draining The Water

Now that we know when to do a water heater flush, let’s look into how to do it.

  1. Do a quick flush: First of all, flush the heater once to get the water flowing.
  2. Turn the heater off: This step is essential. Do not try draining old hot water heater while it’s turned on.
  3. Open the drain valve completely: The valve should be open all the way, letting out all of the water in the tank. Wait till the water drips out.
  4. Flush again with water: Now flush the tank with water again. This step will wash out sediments. Repeat the step until the water runs clear and the tank is visibly clean.
  5. Close the valve and refill the tank: Make sure the valve is properly closed before refilling it with water.
  6. Relight the heater: Finally, run the heater for a quick check if it’s running well.
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Benefits of Draining Water Heater

If you drain your water heater at regular intervals, the lime stops building up inside. As a result, the corrosion slows down too. You’ll notice the pipes running more freely and the water getting hot as quickly as it should.

The benefits of draining go hand in hand with the risks of not draining. Slow heating, corrosion, leaks, sludge, and explosion are just some of the unfavorable outcomes you wouldn’t want to see.

A Helpful Tutorial You May Need!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What happens if the water heater is not drained?

If you don’t drain your water heater for long periods (i.e., years), it’ll lose its ability to heat water properly, put out dirty water, and it may even burst.

Should I flush a 15 year old water heater?

While you should regularly drain your water heater, 15 years is too late. Don’t drain the heater after so many years because it may cause leaks and safety hazards.

Is it worth it to drain the water heater?

Absolutely. Draining your heater keeps the water hot and the heater working properly. And not draining depreciates the heater’s life cycle quicker.


You were wondering, “is it too late to drain my water heater?” We came up with our handy guide to help you understand when, why, and how to drain the heater (as well as when not to). Make sure you maintain all safety precautions while working on your water heater.

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