Plumbing Tip: Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater
Don’t Forget to Flush Your Water Heater
Water heaters enable the luxury of warm water and hot showers with only the turn of a handle. These typically cylinder-shaped systems are often tucked in the basement corner, made of steel and insulated to retain heat. While water heaters are generally low-maintenance, it is crucial to flush your them regularly.
Flushing Your Water Heater: Why It’s Important
Water heaters hold a large volume of water inside its tank. Overtime, iron sediment settles to the bottom and can stir up whenever the bathtub or washing machine is used, causing an unappealing discoloration of the water. In order to control the buildup of mineral deposits and to optimize the operating efficiency and life of the heater, it is important to to flush this system regularly (source).
When You Should Flush Your Water Heater
Generally, it is recommended that you flush your water heater annually (source); however, the recurrence of your maintenance will depend on your water heater model and your home’s water source. If your water heater is getting older or if you just moved into your home, it’s a good idea to flush your water heater right away to assess its quality. Additionally, if you have a water softener that uses salt, it is necessary to flush your water heater at least once a year or once every six months.
How to Flush Your Water Heater
If you wish to flush your water heater yourself, there are quite a few steps to follow:
- Locate the and disable the main power source of your water heater
An electrical heater will be powered by a breaker or fuse box, whereas a gas heater will use a thermostat.
For a breaker box: disable the circuit that powers your electrical water heater. If you are unsure which branch circuit breaker this is, you may turn off the main circuit breaker. Remember, if you do this, the power in your home will be off throughout this procedure.
For a fuse box: remove the fuse box powering the water heater. This fuse box will have a handle that may be hot, so be careful when pulling it closed.
For a thermostat: turn the setting to “pilot” on the gas heater.
- Turn off the cold water inlet into the water heater
The shut off valve will be located at the top of the tank. If you have a ball valve, this will simply close with a quarter-turn, whereas a gate valve will take more rotations to shut completely.
- Turn on the hot water spigot in your sink
- Attach a garden hose to the tank’s valve
This valve will be located at the bottom of your heater.
- Place the draining end of the hose in a safe location
Because the water dispensed from the hose will be extremely hot, make sure to place the end of your garden hose in a safe location, such as a sink, outdoor drain or driveway.
- With the pressure relief valve open, open the water heater’s drain valve
- Let the water run
After a several minutes, if the water appears clear and has cooled, use a drinking glass to collect the running water. Once the water settles in the glass, look for any remaining sediment.
If the water is still clouded, continue flushing until it is clear. If for some reason the tank empties before the water appears clear, turn your cold water supply on and partially fill the tank to continue flushing.
- Close the drain valve
Disconnect the garden hose, turn off the hot water spigot and turn on the cold water inlet to the tank.
Finally, turn on your water supply to let the tank refill. Reopen the pressure relief valve slowly, closing it once any compressed air has vacated. Close the water heater drain, only turning on the water supply once the hot water starts running; at this point it is safe to turn on the power source again.
Need Some Guidance?
Many opt for professional service when it comes time to flush a water heater. If your schedule is too busy, the process seems overwhelming or if you stumbled upon problems, Moon Valley Plumbing is here to help. Contact us today for assistance!