How To Drain A Waterbed Without A Pump

Methods Of Draining, Moving, And Refilling Or Storing Your Waterbed

May 16, 2019
How To

Estimated reading time: 17 minutes

Table of contents

Four Different Methods For Draining A Waterbed Mattress And Moving Tips

Learn about the four different methods of draining a waterbed prior to moving day. You can use an electric pump, a drain and fill kit, a shop-vac, the gravity method, or a combination of two items.

Methods Of Draining, Moving, And Refilling Or Storing Your Waterbed

Learn all of the methods that you can use to drain a waterbed before you move it. You also have other considerations of the time involved and conditioning the waterbed in advance of the draining or storage of your waterbed if you won’t be setting it back up soon. You need to make certain that you give yourself enough time to drain your waterbed mattress fully before moving it and do it properly so you don’t damage the interior of your mattress.

The Electric Pump Method

Electric waterbed pumps are the fastest method for draining a waterbed mattress. Pumps can be rented or purchased through your dealer. The process takes approximately 50 minutes for a king hard side and about 30 minutes for a king soft side.

The first step in all processes is to unplug your waterbed heater, open the mattress valve and push the air bubble out to “burp” your mattress. This will help to speed up the draining process in all cases, as it forms a better siphon and it protects the electric pump.

Running the pump for more than 60 seconds dry (air running through the head of the pump) will burn up the rubber impeller or worse–burn up the pump. Do not run the electric pump dry! Attach the female end of the garden hose to the outport of the pump. (This will be marked and this is where the water will drain.)

Waterbed Parts & Accessories

See Them Here

Then place the other end of the garden hose outside, in a basement floor drain, toilet, tub, or utility sink. Wherever you place it, be sure that the area can handle the water that will be pumped out without overflowing, puddling up, or flooding around building foundations. Attach the short utility drain hose to the other male in the port of the electric pump. The other end of the short utility hose will attach and thread to the valve of the mattress using the plastic mattress adaptor from your drain and fill kit.

You will need to stay with the pump until it is completely drained and immediately replace the plug and cap to vacuum seal the mattress.

Moving the mattress should only be done when the waterbed mattress is completely vacuum-packed. This will keep your internal wave control system in place so it won’t shift, bunch, or wad up. Only when the mattress is completely flat and vacuum-sealed should you attempt to move it.

Fiber or baffled mattresses should be drained to a point where the mattress looks like a package of freeze-dried food or beef jerky in the shrink-wrap. This vacuum has been created to lock or hold the inner materials into place. (Note never lift one end of the mattress to assist or speed the draining process this will only cause the inner material to shift.) Only once the mattress is drained completely, as instructed, should it be folded or rolled and moved. (Never move a partially drained mattress)

Approximate Drain Times For An Electric Pump

If you have a waterbed mattress with baffles or layers of fiber layers, which are normally free-floating, you need to drain your mattress correctly and the very best draining option is to get an electric pump.

Approximate Draining Time For Hard Side Waterbeds:

  1. California King 50 Minutes
  2. California Queen 40 Minutes
  3. Super Single 30 Minutes

Approximate Draining Time Soft Side Waterbeds:

  1. Eastern King 30 Minutes
  2. Queen 20 Minutes
  3. Full 15 Minutes
  4. Twin 10 Minutes

The Drain And Fill Kit Method

Learn how to drain your waterbed properly using a waterbed drain and fill kit by following these instructions. Draining your waterbed isn’t very hard; however, you must ensure that you take special care while you are draining your bed, or you can ruin the baffling system or end up with a mattress that is very heavy and not totally drained.

Make sure before draining your waterbed mattress that you unplug the heater before draining your waterbed. Actually, the only time that your waterbed heater should ever be turned on is when the bed is filled completely with water.

You first need to remove the cap and plug it into the mattress in order to burp all air bubbles from the waterbed mattress. Then replace the insert plug. Use a drain and fill kit, which is available at any local waterbed store. Remove the faucet aerator and attach the faucet adapter to a sink. Next, attach the Venturi Pump to the faucet adapter.

Turn the bell-shaped bottom piece of the Venturi Pump to the marked drain position. You will then connect the waterbed mattress adapter onto the male end of the garden hose. Remove the plug insert carefully and attach the mattress adapter making sure not to let any air reenter the mattress valve. Make certain that the fitting is tight and submerged into the water.

Garden hose for waterbed draining and filling.

Before starting the draining process, if you know you have a sluggish or slow drain, you could experience an overflow. If this is the case, you may want to play it safe, and attach the Venturi Pump to an outside faucet letting the water drain outdoors. After you have all of your connections in place, turn on the water to full power.

The pressure of the water being forced through the restrictive hole and out the bell housing-shaped fitting creates suction. This suction is called the Venturi effect. The suction is not only important to get out all of the water but, if you have baffled, fiber, or foam inserts to reduce wave motion, it can keep you from ruining a mattress. Let the mattress drain until vacuumed down and completely flat, this will hold the wave control system stationary and in place.


Be sure to use a garden hose that measures 50 feet or less and also make certain that the washers for the garden/utility hose are placed in all of the female connections. (Pump, Garden Hose, and Mattress Adapter.) The components included in a drain and fill kit (Venturi Pump, Mattress Adapter, Faucet Adapter, and Washers) if you have questions or problems, contact a waterbed store.

The Shop-Vac Method

It is possible to drain a waterbed with a shop-vac, however, it is a very labor-intensive project when you consider how much water is in your mattress. The average wood-framed hard-sided waterbed in queen or king size holds approximately 200 gallons of water and a soft side waterbed holds 115 gallons. You might first want to consider the fact that a Shop-Vac is available in many different sizes of the following:

  • 1-4 Gallons
  • 5-8 Gallons
  • 10-14 Gallons
  • 16-25 Gallons
  • 55 Gallons

Could you imagine the number of trips it would take and the work involved to drain a 200-gallon waterbed? For instance, picture a 5-gallon Shop-Vac at 8 pounds per gallon, which is going to weigh around 40 pounds per trip. It will only take 40 trips to keep emptying it.

It’s not exactly a practical thing to use a shop-vac to empty your waterbed mattress, however, many people use one to remove excess water, or water that remains in the mattress that they were unable to get out while draining the mattress. Whatever method you used, you will still have a waterbed mattress that is going to weigh in excess of 100 to 200 pounds.

A wet/dry shop-vac or similar brand can be purchased most anywhere including home improvement stores like Lowe’s, Home Depot, or even Sears and it will extract the remaining 10-20 gallons quickly and effectively. Be sure to replace the plug and the screw cap quickly in order to keep your mattress in a vacuum-sealed state. Achieving such a vacuum will lighten your mattress and make it easier to move and handle.

The Gravity Siphon Method

There are three methods to starting a gravity-fed siphon for both a hard side waterbed and soft side waterbed. First, you will need one or all of the proper attachments to connect your garden hose to the waterbed mattress:

A drain and fill kit includes 1 Venturi pump 1 mattress adapter 1 faucet adapter The kit will also include hose washers for all the female fittings.

All three methods require you to make sure that the waterbed heater has been unplugged and that the mattress has

been burped and bled of any air bubbles before starting any draining process.

Method One – Gravity Siphon Started With Drain And Fill Kit

Follow the drain, fill kit Instructions and turn the faucet on fully. Let the water run until you hear a change in the pitch of the exhausting water from the Venturi pump. While it is running, disconnect the female end of the garden hose attachment from the side of the Venturi pump. Drop the hose to the ground outside or in a drainage area immediately.

If the end of the hose is lower than the bed, the siphon will now start. You will obviously need to make sure that the draining water is going into a tub, basement floor drain, or out a window, or you will have a mess on your hands.

Method Two-Gravity Siphon Started With Only A Mattress Adapter

Connect the female end of the garden hose to a faucet and the mattress attachment from the drain and fill kit to the male end of the hose. Over the sink, carefully flush all air from the hose and then shut off the water. With a towel in your hand, walk to the bed and connect the mattress adapter to the mattress then push the valve in. Go turn on your water and count to 10.

Then shut off the water, disconnect the hose and kink it to shut off the water flow. It is best to drop the end of the hose out of a window carefully. The lower the end of the hose is than the bed gives you a stronger siphon to drain the waterbed quicker because the siphon is stronger due to the gravity of the drop in height.

Method Three-Gravity Siphon Started With An Electric Pump

Follow the electric waterbed pump directions. Once the pump has been primed and the water is flowing, shut off the pump

and again, carefully disconnect the garden hose and drop it out of a window to a lower point than the waterbed.

Many people choose the siphoning method to save on water consumption, electricity, or they just aren’t aware that there are better ways to drain a waterbed. If you have a wave control mattress, siphoning a waterbed mattress can be very tricky. In order to achieve the necessary vacuum required for moving a baffled mattress so you do not ruin it or damage it by bunching or shifting the baffling system, you must achieve a vacuum.

You will need a very large drop around 8 to 10 feet or you will need to finish the vacuum process with a wet/dry shop vac or Venturi pump. Then, replace the cap and plug insert immediately to maintain the vacuum on the mattress. It should look like a package of beef jerky in the shrink-wrap when finished.

More Info On How To Drain A Waterbed Without A Pump

How To Drain A Waterbed Without A Pump

Depending on the manufacturer, size, and style of your waterbed it can weigh up to 2,000 pounds when the bladder is full of water. Therefore, basically, your waterbed must be drained in order to move it to a new location in either your home or when you are preparing to move to a new house. For people who are settled in one home and don’t intend to move much, you may decide not to purchase a waterbed pump or drain and fill kit, as you will rarely use it. Younger people who tend to rent their abodes and move at the end of their lease period may want to invest in a pump for draining their bed.

It is possible to drain your waterbed without a pump by enlisting your garden hose, an inexpensive waterbed hose adapter, and using the earth’s gravitational pull.

Step-By-Step Instructions

Remove all of your bedding, sheets, and the mattress cover off of your waterbed to expose the mattress.

Unplug your waterbed heater if you use one with your bed. The heater is water-cooled and it could be damaged if you don’t disconnect it before draining the bed.

Locate your fill and drain valve at the foot of your bed. Place a towel on the floor underneath it for good measure to catch any water drips. Open the plug and burp all of the air out of the mattress. If you are draining the bed by yourself and don’t have a helper sweep a broom from the head of the bed to the foot to move the air bubbles to the plug.

Immediately after removing all air bubbles through the plug, replace the cap so air is not allowed back into the mattress.

Place your garden hose with the end that connects to the spigot out of a window close to the ground. Aim the opposite end of the hose out of the window and anchor it in place with a heavy chair.

Connect the hose to the outdoor spigot and allow the water to run until you see a steady stream of water coming out without any spurting sounds and then turn the spigot off. This step removes all of the air from the garden hose.

Go back inside and attach the waterbed hose adapter to the hose. Open the mattress valve and quickly attach the adapter to the valve. Go outside and remove the hose from the spigot.

Methods Of Draining, Moving, And Refilling Or Storing Your Waterbed.

The natural gravity will make a siphon out of your hose and drain your waterbed mattress for you. Place a few heavy objects such as books or any other items without sharp edges on each side of the valve to depress the valve lower than the rest of the mattress. This creates a steady flow of water leaving the bed without losing the siphon.

When the bed is empty, remove the garden hose from the drain plug and immediately replace the plug so air cannot enter the mattress. This makes the job of adding water to your mattress easier when you are ready to refill it.

Helpful Hints

If you need to drain a waterbed that resides in a basement, the above method will not work because you most likely will not be able to get a siphon started since the basement is lower than your lawn. In this case, you can use an adapter on a wet-dry vacuum and remove the water from the mattress from the suction of the vacuum. After the canister is full, turn off the vacuum, disconnect it, pour the water out and then reconnect it to remove all the water possible one canister at a time.

How To Properly Store A Waterbed Mattress

You must first drain your waterbed mattress fully and immediately place the cap and plug on the mattress. Don’t allow air to reenter the mattress so it can maintain the vacuum. This is an important step to hold your baffling in place and decrease the chance of your mattress becoming sour due to the reactions of air, water, and bacteria reacting to each other.

We recommend putting a bottle of waterbed conditioner, such as blue magic, in the mattress for several days or more before draining your mattress. It is always a good idea to clean the mattress with a good vinyl cleaner before putting it into storage. STL Beds is cautious about recommending the storage of waterbed mattresses because the vinyl may become brittle with age and crack when you unfold it due to plasticizer migration.

Always store a waterbed mattress in a dry, dark location, and be cautious of places like basements, storage units, or any outbuildings with great temperature contrasts and high humidity. These conditions seem to encourage bacteria growth, mold, and mildew in or on the mattress. If possible, consider a climate-controlled storage unit for the best results.

Oh yes, and another thing you need to be aware of is predators. Varmints and critters, like mice, are notorious for loving to chew on vinyl water mattresses, so try not to store your water mattress in a woodshed, garage, or barn. I have also seen the family cat, I assume after a mouse, walk across mattresses left unboxed or unprotected.

Their claws can leave holes in them as well, so the proper storage area is just as important as the proper storage technique. Wrap and protect your mattress to keep it from being exposed to the elements and the things that can and might damage your waterbed mattress while it is being stored.

Don’t forget your heater. STL Beds recommends storing the heater pad in a flat position. Do not roll it up, especially if it is getting old. It is not unusual to see waterbed heaters fail after being moved and handled, so remember to handle it with care as well.

How To Properly Refill A Waterbed Mattress

Filling the waterbed mattress is simple. Start by putting the mattress into its proper supporting frame. Unfold and remove the cap and plug. This will allow air to enter the mattress making it easier to position. With two people, one at end of the bed frame gently pulls the bottom corners of the mattress into the bottom corners of the cavity.

You will need to repeat this step several times gently pulling width-wise, lengthwise, and diagonally until the bottom corner of the mattress is aligned with the bottom corner of the supporting frame. You can expect to see some wrinkles on the mattress surface. These will disappear as you fill the mattress with water.

Using your faucet attachment from the kit, you can attach your hose to an indoor sink, thus allowing you to mix the water that is being put into the bed. The other end of the hose connects using the mattress adapter and attaches to the valve. Follow the mattress filling instructions. Generally, this is usually level with a safety liner, which is about 1/2 to 3/4 inches below the top of the supporting side rails of the bed.

Your heater should only be turned on when the waterbed is completely filled with liquid. Beds can take several days to warm. Be sure to add a waterbed conditioner and burp occasionally. This will condition the vinyl while increasing the mattress’s life and eliminate odors, reduce noise and increase comfort.

Things To Consider

Make sure to give yourself enough time when moving a waterbed so you can drain it properly and fully to ready it for your big moving day.

If you are having utilities shut off at your old location and turned on at your new location, remember that you will need water and/or electricity to drain your waterbed mattress, depending on the method you use.

This checklist can help you to drain, move, refill or store your waterbed in the correct manner so you can get more life out of your waterbed in general.

Waterbed Drain Kit – Draining Your Waterbed FAQs

  • How Do You Use A Waterbed Drain Kit? – Using a drain and fill kit, which is available at any local waterbed store. Remove the faucet aerator and attach the faucet adapter to a sink. Next, attach the Venturi Pump to the faucet adapter. Turn the bell-shaped bottom piece of the Venturi Pump to the marked drain position.
  • How Long Does It Take To Drain A Waterbed Without A Pump?Without a pump to help move the water, it takes between one and two hours to drain a king-size waterbedThe speed depends on the length and size of the hose, as well as the angle.
  • Do You Have To Change The Water In A Waterbed? – Unless you are moving your water mattress, there is no need to change the water. However, you will need to continue to add waterbed conditioner once every year.

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