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How to Drain a Water Heater Without Drain Valve? Only 4 Steps

Fact checked by Stephen Conklin

With the advent of modern technology, gone are the days that you had to endure the teeth-chattering cold of a morning shower. Today, thanks to the water heaters, you can now enjoy the water at your ideal temperature.

How to drain a water heater without drain valve

Like most household equipment, a water heater requires proper care and maintenance. Have you noticed your heater emitting strange noises or just being slow or defective lately? This could often be a sign that your heater needs to be flushed out. But what if your drain valve isn’t working?

There is no need to worry because this tutorial will teach you the dos and don’ts how to drain a water heater without drain valve! And yes, you can do this even if you’re completely clueless about handyman stuff.

Table of Contents

What You Will Need to Follow This Tutorial

●     Bucket or container

This will be the receiver of the water that you’ll be draining out from the heater tank, so make sure that it has the right capacity for the water volume inside the tank. If you don’t have a single large container, it’s okay to use multiple buckets. Preferably, your container would be easy to transport to where you’ll be disposing or storing the collected water.

●     Hose pipe

You can use a garden hose for this requirement. A hose pipe will be used to connect to the tank outlet to let the water out into the bucket or container you prepared.

●     Adjustable Wrench

This will help you loosen your drain valve when removing it.

●     Manual drill / Hacksaw blade / Serrated Insert

These tools will let you make an opening for draining in case of a defective drain valve. It depends, however, on the material your drain valve is made of.

A serrated insert can be used for plastic drain valves, while a hacksaw blade is suitable for brass or metal valves. If none of this works, you can use a manual drill.

●     Screwdriver

In case you use a hacksaw blade for your valve, you’ll need a large screwdriver to finish the job.

●     Rug (optional)

Your debacle may cause some spills so a rug can be handy to keep things from going messy.

Step-By-Step Instructions


Step 1: Turn off The Water Heater

Since you’ll be flushing out a water heater, you’d want to avoid the danger of burning yourself from the hot water from the tank. So, you’ll have to turn off the heater’s power supply either through the circuit breaker or gas line depending on the kind of water heater you have.

I would also recommend letting the water cool down for a while before proceeding. Moreover, you can open a hot water faucet to reduce the hot water and check the temperature.

Step 2: Switch off The Water Source And Open Faucets

Once you’ve deemed that the water in the tank is cool enough for you to work on the heater, turn off the cold water source. Open a hot water tap to let in air and relieve pressure in the system.

Step 3: Take off The Faulty Drain Valve

For a brass valve, you can use an adjustable wrench to remove the valve. If this does not work, use a hacksaw blade to make a cross cut which you can then use a screwdriver to unscrew.

For plastic drain valves, use a serrated insert on the nipple to unscrew. If you have a manual drill, you can opt to create a hole on the drain valve.

Pro tip: DO NOT use electric drills when working with equipment that involves water to avoid electrocution.

Step 4: Attach Hose Pipe And Let The Water Drain

Once you’ve successfully made an opening to let the water out, attach your garden hose or any hose pipe and make sure the other end goes to a drain or your prepared container. You may place a rug underneath the valve to catch any spills. Let the water completely drain.

In case no water comes out, this may mean your drain is clogged due to the build up of sediments. To fix this, attach the other end of the hose pipe to a nearby faucet. Open the faucet and let the backwash remove the clog.


And that’s it with this tutorial! Was this easy to follow and effective? Did you have any problems while going through the procedure on how to drain a water heater without drain valve? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

To save maintenance costs as well as time. I recommend that you look at the top water heaters list, which includes propane tankless water heaters, power vent water heaters, and water heaters for hard water.

In my experience, being able to solve household mishaps is even more rewarding if I do it on my own. So what are you waiting for? Share your adulting win with your family and friends. You’re welcome for the bragging rights!

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