Draining a Whirlpool hot water heater can extend its life and allow it to work more efficiently. It's not a difficult process, but it does require patience and an understanding of the appliance's controls.
Drain the Hot Water First
To be safe, follow the directions on the water heater label. The gas control valve should be in the off position. Turn on the hot water at a sink close to the location of the water heater and let it run until the water is cool to the touch. Draining the hot water from the home's lines will reduce the risk of scalding. Use a pair of work gloves to get a good grip on the valves if they are stubborn.
If you want to reserve the water for the garden or otherwise save the water from going down the drain, put a small bucket under the faucet. Be prepared to change the bucket, as this process can take up to 10 minutes to complete. When the water from the faucet runs cool to the touch, turn off the faucet.
Drain Water From the Heater
At the heater, turn the cold-water supply at the top of the Whirlpool water heater to the off position. Use a ladder to comfortably reach the valve rather than stretching over the fixture. At the base of the Whirlpool water heater is a drain valve with threads. Connect a garden hose to this outlet. Put the end of the garden hose in the street pointed toward a drain or in a large 5-gallon work bucket to collect the water.
Depending on the model of water heater you have, either open the drain valve by turning the handle or use a flathead screwdriver. The water heater can collect sediment at the bottom, particularly in older appliances. The sediment can clog the drain valve. If no water is flowing from the open valve or the appliance is slow in draining, a professional may be needed to safely remove the rest of the water in the heater.
After the Tank Is Drained
Flush the tank until the water runs clear from the appliance. Close the drain valve before removing the garden hose from the water heater. There may be air trapped in the tank, which can cause faucets to sputter. To remove the trapped air, turn the cold-water supply valve back on.
Unscrew the aerator at the spout of the faucet closest to the water heater. Allow it to run. After about three minutes, turn off the water. All of the air should be removed, and the faucet should run clear with no sputtering. Turn off the faucet and replace the aerator.
Fire Up the Water Heater
Check that the gas supply is turned to the on position and light the water heater. Once the pilot light is lit, the status light on the Whirlpool water heater should blink to indicate that it is up and running.
The tank will be filled with cold water. Condensation is normal for water heaters that have recently been drained and refired. Check the temperature and set it at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Allow the water tank to fill and heat up before expecting a warm bath or hot shower.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.