Draining Electric Water Heater

Problem: Loud sporadic popping sound coming from water heater.

Water heaters need annual maintenance. It should be drain once per year to to flush out sediment. Florida water is Hard Water which means it is full of minerals and it settles down to the bottom of the water heater. The loud popping sound is the thin layer of water heating up from below the mineral deposit layer and steam bubbles popping up through the sediments.

To diagnose and confirm the cause of the noise:

  1. Turn the electric power off to the water heater. The main breaker switch should have label “H.W.H.” or “Hot Water Heater”.
  2. Wait 36 hours for the water in the tank to cool down until there is no more hot water running from your faucet. The popping noise should stop the next day to confirm the cause of the popping sound is from sediments at the bottom of the tank.

To Fix the problem:

  1. You will need to have some materials for the job. Get some old rags to wipe spillage on the ground and paper towels to wipe excess water. Also get plastic trashbag, flashlight, pen and paper.
  2. Determine if Water Heater is electric or gas water heater. Most Florida homes are electric water heaters.
  3. Shut off the electrical power to the water heater from the main breaker switches. It takes 2 days for the water to cool down to avoid risking hot water burn injuries.
  4. Wear heavy duty gloves for protection against accidental hot water burn and water proof shoes.
  5. Connect Hot Water Tank using only Heavy Duty Garden Hose that won’t be damaged by hot water draining from the water heater drain valve. Use Heavy Duty Garden Hose 25 feet or less. The shorter the hose the faster water will flow.
  6. Fully open the drain valve.
  7. Turn on the hot water in kitchen and bathrooms to create air gap in the pipes to force sediment out of the water heater.
  8. Plan A: Test the water supply valve above the water heater to confirm it is working. Turn the valve clockwise to screw the value downward and shut off incoming water to the tank. Make note of the water meter reading. If the water meter moves then it means the tank keeps refilling, it’s time for Plan B to shut off the Main valve.
  9. Plan B: Test the Main Valve to confirm it is working. Make note of the water meter reading. If the water meter moves then it means the tank keeps refilling, you will need to call the water utility shut off the water valve from the street.
  10. Open the T&P valve by flipping it completely over. Do not open the T&P valve until the Cold Water Valve is shutoff by turning it completely Clock-Wise. Otherwise it will flood out to the overflow pipes.
  11. Once the water stops draining, turn the water back on 3 times briefly to flush out the remaining residual. It’s not necessary to drain the tank completely. Draining 5 gallons is enough to flush out the sentiments.
  12. It is now time to clean up. Shut off the drain value and disconnect the water hose. Close the T&P valve. Open the water supply cut-off value by turning it Counter-Clockwise upward to refill the tank. Wait for all the air is out of the kitchen and bathroom pipes. Make sure the water tank if full before turning the power back on to the water heater.

A water heater has an expected life between 8 to 12 years. To determine how old your water heater is:

  1. Rheem puts the manufactured date as the first 4 digits of the serial number MMYY format.
  2. A.O. Smith has it as YYYYMM format.
  3. American Water Heater has it as YYWW format.