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Draining A Hot Water Tank




The hot water tank can be a source of drinking water when the water supply has been cut off. Most tanks hold 30 to 50 gallons of water, under sink models may hold a few gallons. You don't need to drain the tank during a disaster unless the water supply has been cut off and no other source of water is available. Use bottled, stored or water provided locally before draining the tank. If you need water and no other source is available then draining the tank will provide a short term supply, perhaps for several days if used carefully. Below are the steps required, it's a good idea to take a look at your tank before hand. If it isn't clear how to drain it or turn off the heat, get assistance to find out how.



Step 1. Turn Off The Heat



Turn off the heat and allow the water inside to cool for some time before attempting to drain for use. Burns can result from hot water so allow the water to cool before draining.




 Electric Water Heater
If the tank is electric turn off the breakers that power the tank. These should be located in a breaker box near the tank, in the main breaker panel or other box. The Electric breakers are just like light switches, they are either off or on. Turn off the breakers to the hot water tank.

The breakers for the hot water tank are probably joined together like those pictured here in fig. 2, along with breakers for air conditioners and heaters. They may be horizontal in a breaker panel or vertical in a smaller box near the hot water tank. The box may even have a handle on the side that says "Off" at the bottom and "On" at the top. Look at your tank ahead of time and get help if needed so you can turn it off properly.

 Gas Water Heater

The gas hot water heater has a thermostat on the side near the bottom of the tank as seen in fig. 3. Rotate the knob on top of the valve to "Off" before draining most tanks. Look for and follow any instructions on the tank. These knobs usually have the words "Off", "Pilot" and "On" printed around the top of the knob, these words are aligned with a mark, just below the knob, on the thermostat housing. Align the word "Off" with that mark. This should turn the tank off.

Do not turn it back to "On"
If the tank has a pilot light then the pilot will have to be relit before the tank can be used again. There should be lighting instructions on the side of the tank. If not, or if it is to difficult, call a qualified person to relight the tank after water service is restored, the gas company will provide this service if needed, it will be much quicker to learn how to do it yourself or call a plumber.

Step 2. Draining Water From The Tank

The Hot Water Tank is drained through a small faucet or round knob near the bottom of the tank. If the tank has a small faucet (a example can be seen in fig. 5 to the left) in it's side near the bottom then attach the hose there, just as you would attach a hose to any outdoor water faucet. Place the other end of the hose in a clean container and turn the handle counterclockwise.

If there is no faucet then the drain may be a round knob located somewhere near the bottom of the tank. In the center of the knob is the connection for the water hose, screw it onto this connection.

After connected place the hose in a clean container that will hold the water. Turn the outside of the knob in a counterclockwise direction to open the valve. Turn it clockwise to close the valve.

Don't over tighten the valve, it could break.
Opening a hot water faucet valve will make the water flow more freely.


The tank drain valve in fig. 6 is opened by inserting a screw driver into the slot in the center of the drain knob and turning the screw driver counter clockwise.

This tank also has a electronic igniter meaning when being relit no matches aren't needed simply following the instructions on the tank the flame can be easily relit.



Look at your tank and get help if needed now beforehand
 to understand how to get water from your tank
 and shut off electric or gas supply to it.



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