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Old 03-25-2015, 07:11 AM
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Lost In Space
Posts: 7,806
How to Drain a Waterbed

Apparently I have a leak in a soft, waveless waterbed...most likely a burst bladder. (This was discovered overnight, and diagnosis had to wait until morning.) From past experience, way back, I'd say it's a safe bet. Anyway, I can't remember how we drained it. I know we rented a pump for the siphon trick will not work with our water pressure. Seems to me there is a special waterbed pump? ...for not all pumps are created equal. I also seem to recall it was a small, inline pump - meaning the inlet and outlet are in a straight line relative to each other. OTOH, I seem to recall the pump was hard to prime and/or start the flow going.

I was hoping others could share their experiences? DOs and DON'Ts? Thx!

Last edited by Jinx; 03-25-2015 at 07:12 AM.
Old 03-25-2015, 08:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: F.O.S.O.N.E.
Posts: 19,903
You shouldn't need a pump. A special nozzle (you probably have the one you filled it with) and a garden hose long enough to reach outside, or to a low drain like a shower, and you're good.

Set it up, start the siphon, and wait about two hours. With a little help at the end, rolling up one end to force more water out, you can get all but the last few gallons. The siphon on the sealed bag provides plenty of suction.

ETA: make sure to maintain a good seal on the nozzle. An air leak will screw it all up. Start the siphon by laying on the bed (the more the merrier).

It works best if the nozzle is the highest point... run the hose among the floor to the lowest drain point you can find, even if it's a ways away.

Did this many times. Miss the old bag.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 03-25-2015 at 08:54 AM.
Old 03-25-2015, 09:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: San Francisco, CA
Posts: 2,176
  1. Throw/drop an angry cat(s) on bed.
  2. Record for YouTube
  3. Profit!
Old 03-25-2015, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Ottawa
Posts: 22,738
You need a nozzle at the other end to connect to a tap. With the tap running, the water gets sucked out of the bed using the Venturi effect. You shouldn't require much water pressure to make this happen.
Old 03-25-2015, 09:53 AM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: North of the River
Posts: 2,607
As stated, the siphon doesn't depend on your water pressure.

Here's what I did back in the day -

Hook the garden hose up to your fill attachment, run the hose through the bedroom window, put a couple of bricks around nozzle on the bed (to ensure it stays out of any air bubble), start the hose, once water is going into the bed, turn it off, disconnect from the water source and wait.
Old 03-25-2015, 10:03 AM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: F.O.S.O.N.E.
Posts: 19,903
Yeah, tap siphons are an E-Z solution that wastes water and doesn't speed up the process much; pumps are what the pros used to get the job done faster (especially in an emergency).

The passive-siphon method works just fine and needs nothing more specialized than the connector nozzle that's required for pretty much any option short of emptying the mattress onto the floor.
Old 03-25-2015, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: Hoboken
Posts: 1,202
Originally Posted by Leaffan View Post
You need a nozzle at the other end to connect to a tap.
The one time that I did it, we didn't even need a nozzle on the other end.

Hook one end of hose to bed.
Take other end to a lower area outside (easy for me on the 2nd floor). Near a drain is preferable.
Lie on the bed to force water through the hose. Siphon effect will begin, and empty bed.
Agree that effort is needed at the end to force the last bits out.
Old 03-25-2015, 10:49 AM
Join Date: Apr 1999
Location: F.O.S.O.N.E.
Posts: 19,903
Originally Posted by mcgato View Post
Agree that effort is needed at the end to force the last bits out.
Only a bit, by rolling up the far end of the mattress or (for thicker padded ones) folding it or putting a few heavy books on it. More than once I had the siphon suck the mattress into a vacu-sealed bag. It's all in getting a tight seal at the fill neck. A little salad oil or the like will help get a tight seal and make it easy to remove the nozzle. DON'T use vaseline, as it can degrade certain kinds of rubber and plastic. KY jelly would probably work fine, and I'd wager most waterbed owners have some nearby.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 03-25-2015 at 10:51 AM.
Old 03-25-2015, 10:50 AM
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Orlando
Posts: 3,927
I have had a water bed for over 25 years. I also have a waveless which means it is stuffed with fibers. My best advice is "always" use a pump. It is faster and really gets the bed empty. Nothing beats a pump. I have one I bought at home depot for about $30 maybe 12 years ago.
Old 03-25-2015, 11:36 AM
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Western Pennsylvania
Posts: 27,390
If you want to use a pump, drill pump attachments are cheap and easy.
Old 03-25-2015, 01:21 PM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 5,131
gah! I hated draining my mom's waveless. All that foam seemed to prevent proper draining, even with a pump. And then it seemed the foam was saturated and didn't drain, so the mattress weighed a ton even drained. Ended up cutting it apart to get it out. What a mess!

Good luck!
Old 03-25-2015, 01:31 PM
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Great White North
Posts: 4,017
Wow! I'm I the only one who had to check the OP post date to make sure this wasn't a zombie?
Old 03-26-2015, 02:57 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Denver
Posts: 7,318
It's been a really, really long time since I had to drain a waterbed that was on the floor in the basement, but yes, you can rent pumps. I think, actually, I rented one from UHaul.
Old 03-26-2015, 10:05 AM
Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Durham, NC
Posts: 4,086
Originally Posted by kayaker View Post
And they suck [edit: no pun intended!] I've never had one last long before destroying itself. No doubt someone makes a good one somewhere, but I've never seen it. The kind I got were typical hardware store ones. But it probably would work long enough for a waterbed.

I'm waiting to hear from the OP why a siphon wouldn't work. If the bed is in a basement with no drain, then that'd be a problem (in more ways than one!) Otherwise, siphon is the way to go.

If you're on a second floor and can run the hose down to ground level, you can get serious suction going (far more than any cheap pump) and drain it fast and thoroughly. It only takes a 33 foot drop to get the equivalent of the vacuum of space (0 PSI)! In this case, gravity is your friend.

Last edited by Learjeff; 03-26-2015 at 10:06 AM.
Old 03-28-2015, 09:14 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: omaha, ne
Posts: 2,893
I drained mine down for the last time yesterday. Our new bedroom furniture will be delivered today.

I just used a garden hose with the fill attachment at the bed end. At the siphon end, I have a 1/2" npt to garden hose adapter that I screwed to the shower head pipe. I ran enough water to fill the hose and then disconnect it and dropped it into the tub.

It was slow, but I had to get the rest of the old furniture out of the room anyway.
Old 03-28-2015, 04:22 PM
Charter Member
Join Date: Jan 2001
Location: Mid Atlantic, USA
Posts: 8,908
You can run a hose out the window from the below-grade waterbed in the bottom level apartment, and go out in the lawn and whirl the hose around over your head to create a sort of a centrifugal pump. In fact you can also try kneeling and squatting and sitting and various other postures so you can still whirl the hose around but have it less far above the bed. Repeat for several hours.

Actually, I've done this, and change my recommendation: do NOT run the hose out the window, etc etc.
Old 03-30-2015, 02:57 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Exoburb, FL
Posts: 1,014
Funny story (slight hijack)...

Back when I was independent enough (i.e. single) to still own a waterbed I had some difficulty getting the siphon to work, despite being on the 2nd floor with the hose running out the balcony and all the way down. Asked my housemate for assistance at the "receiving" end...his sucking on the hose was no help, at least until I simultaneously flopped down on the bed. Needless to say, he got quite a mouthful
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