How to Drain a Water Heater Without a Drain

Do you ever find yourself in an unexpected situation without the right tools to deal with it? Many of us have experienced it: that moment when we need a tool or technique, yet none are readily available. If you’ve ever tried and failed to drain a water heater without a drain valve, then this article is for you!

How to Drain a Water Heater Without a Drain

Here, I’ll share some straightforward methods on how to drain a water heater without a drain to help get your water heater drained efficiently and safely—even if you don’t have access to all the necessary components. So read on, get informed, and familiarize yourself with these useful tips so the next time an emergency strikes, you’ll be ready!

Is It Possible to Drain Water Without a Drain?

Yes, it is possible to drain water without a drain. All you need is a garden hose and an empty bucket. The process starts by turning off the power supply to your water heater and then preventing any further flow of hot water from the tank. You can do this by shutting off both cold and hot water pipes leading into the tank. It is easy to locate these valves by following the water pipes up and into the water heater.

Needed Tools

  • Garden hose
  • Empty bucket
  • Flat head screwdriver

10 Steps on How to Drain a Water Heater Without a Drain

Step 1: Turn Off the Power

Make sure the power is off. You can do this by either unplugging the power cord from your water heater or turning off the breaker that controls it. If you don’t, you may get shocked when you touch the appliance.

Step 2: Shut Off the Incoming Water Supply

You’ll need to shut off the cold and hot water pipes leading into your water heater. Doing this will prevent any more hot water from entering your tank. Shutting off the cold water valve usually requires a flathead screwdriver.

Step 3: Attach Garden Hose to Drain Valve

Now, attach one end of your garden hose to the drain valve located on the side or bottom of your water heater. Make sure that this connection is secure and won’t leak. Attaching a garden hose to the drain valve will help you siphon and direct out all the hot water from your tank.

Step 4: Place the Other End of the Garden Hose in an Empty Bucket

Now, place the other end of your garden hose inside your empty bucket. This will catch all the water that is drained from the tank. Make sure that this connection is secure and won’t leak, either.

Garden Hose Inside Your Empty Bucket

Step 5: Open Drain Valve and Let Water Flow

Open up the drain valve and let the water flow. You can also open up the hot water valve to help speed up the process if you’d like. The water should start flowing out of the hose and into the bucket.

Step 6: Keep an Eye on How Much Water Is Draining Out

Keep an eye on how much water is draining out of your tank, and make sure that it doesn’t overflow from the bucket. The tank should be empty when the flow of water stops.

Step 7: Close the Drain Valve

Once all of the water has drained out, close the drain valve and make sure that it’s tight. Close the hot water valve as well. The drain valve should now be completely closed. Otherwise, you may have a water leak in the future.

Step 8: Turn On Hot and Cold Water Valves

Turn on the hot and cold water valves again so that your tank can refill with fresh water. Once it’s full, turn off the valves again. The valves may need a little extra tightening to make sure they’re secure.

Step 9: Turn On Power Supply

Finally, you can turn the power supply back on and start using your water heater again. The supply should be on long enough for the top element to heat up but not so long that you burn out the bottom one.

Step 10: Check For Leaks

Afterward, it’s a good idea to check all of the connections you made during this process and make sure there are no leaks. If everything looks OK, your water heater should be good to go!

Check All of the Connections

Following these 10 steps, you can easily drain a water heater without a drain valve. It could take some time, but it’s definitely worth the effort when you need access to hot water and don’t have a drain valve available. Just make sure that all of your connections are secure and that you follow all the safety precautions to avoid any accidents.

8 Safety Measures to Take

  1. Make sure to wear safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands. Protective wear will help to reduce the risk of injury due to hot water splashing or contact with sharp edges.
  2. Shut off the electricity to the water heater and gas supply, if applicable, at both the main breaker box and near the heater itself. Be sure that all power sources are completely disabled before proceeding with any other steps.
  3. Place a bucket below the spigot to catch any draining water. The bucket will need to be large enough to hold the volume of water that you expect to drain.
  4. Loosen the spigot with an adjustable wrench and remove it from the tank if necessary. If there is no spigot, then you will need to cut a hole into the side of your tank using a power saw or hammer and chisel.
  5. Open the pressure-relief valve on the side of the tank in order to release any built-up pressure. Make sure that your bucket is positioned correctly to catch any water that is released.
  6. Insert a garden hose into the hole you made in the side of the tank, or directly into the spigot if one is already installed. Make sure the end of the hose is positioned in a place that will be able to catch all of the draining water.
  7. Slowly open the drain valve on the side of the tank and allow it to drain completely, making sure to watch for any potential leaks or drips.
  8. When you have finished draining, turn off the drain valve and replace the spigot if necessary. Tighten the connection with an adjustable wrench and then turn on the power sources to restore the electricity and gas supply if applicable. Finally, check for any drips or leaks that may have occurred during draining before you move on.
Insert a Garden Hose Into the Hole

These safety measures should be taken every time water is drained from a water heater, as it can be dangerous and lead to serious injury if done improperly. Make sure to take all of these steps into consideration for the best possible outcome. With these safety tips in mind, draining a water heater without a drain should be a safe and successful task.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Will It Cost?

The cost of draining a water heater without a drain will vary depending on the size of your heater and any additional parts or supplies that may be necessary. Generally speaking, you should expect to pay anywhere from $50-$200 for the entire process. 

The cost may also be higher if you hire a professional to do the work. The particles of sediment that may be released during draining can also cause damage to other parts of the heater, so it is important to factor in any potential repair costs as well.

How Long Will It Take?

The time it takes to drain a water heater without a drain will depend on the size of the tank and how much water needs to be drained. Generally speaking, it should not take more than a few hours. 

If you are having a professional do the work for you, then the process may take even less time. Don’t stress, with the right safety measures and a bit of patience, draining a water heater without a drain should be relatively straightforward.

It Depend on the Size of the Tank

How Often Should I Drain My Water Heater?

It is recommended that you drain your water heater at least once every two years to keep it running efficiently and safely. Doing so will help to reduce the buildup of sediment and minerals, as well as prevent corrosion or any other potential damage. 

Additionally, draining your water heater often will help to keep it running optimally and may even save you money in the long run by reducing energy costs. Remember to always follow all safety precautions when draining any water heater.


Draining a water heater without a drain may seem intimidating and impossible; however, by following the above-outlined steps, you can easily accomplish it. As previously mentioned, draining your water heater is a great way to maintain its functionality and increase its longevity. If done correctly and routinely, your water system should remain in excellent condition.

Additionally, doing the job yourself will save you both time and money as opposed to hiring a technician. Of course, it’s important to understand that this process is not suitable for every situation. If you believe the safest option for draining your water heater would be seeking professional help, make sure to contact an experienced plumber or HVAC technician.

With the right guidance on how to drain a water heater without a drain knowledge, you can ensure that the job is completed safely and efficiently – no matter what kind of equipment you have available!

Angela Ervin

Angela Ervin

Angela is the executive editor of DIY quickly. She began her career as an interior designer before applying her strategic and creative passion to lifestyle and home. She has close to 15 years of experience in creative writing and online content strategy for housekeeping, home decorations as well as other niche efforts. She loves her job and has the privilege of working with an extraordinary team. She lives with her husband, two sons, and daughter in Petersburg. When she's not busy working she spent time with her family.

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