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How to Flush a Water Heater – Step by Step Instruction

Depending on the model and source of your water heater, you should always aim to flush it in every one to three years as recommended by experts. Actually, it wouldn’t be a bother to flush it annually, so the job is easy.  For the top performance of your water heater, regular maintenance is vital as it extends its life. Flushing out enables elimination of minerals and sediments that might have built up.

Serious problems can arise in the long term when you don’t flush your water heater as required. The pipes might burst, water pressure can drop, and if the sediments build up more, the tank can shut down entirely. A frequent flush is essential when your water is harder. Hard water contains more residues more than the sediments created by soft water. Here are the steps to follow on how to flush your water heater.

Step 1

Disconnect the power at the electrical panel according to the manufacturer’s instructions. For an electric water heater, turn off the circuit breaker that gives your water heat power. If the power is on while your tank has no water, damage can happen. For gas water heater, set your thermostat to pilot.

Step 2

Secondly, close the water supply valve. It is situated at the top of your tank, close to the water inlet. If you are supposed to use water to do other things, ensure that you first turn off the heat ahead of time. Then, allow the water in the tank to cool after turning off the heating elements. For larger tanks, it will take around two hours to cool off.

Step 3

Now here, open the hot water faucet which is nearby the tub or sink. Let it run as you do other duties during the whole flushing process. Opening the tap helps in preventing the formation of a vacuum in the lines while you are in the process of draining the tank.

Step 4

Here is the fourth step. Connect the drain or garden hose to the water valve or to the drain cock which is situated at the bottom of the heater tank. Ensure that your garden hose is completely threaded on. Run the water to an empty bucket or a drain. You may require portable or a manual pump if the hot water is in the basement. If you are using a bucket, it is recommended not to overfill it, because the hot water can burn you, or can soften plastic buckets which are cheap.

Step 5

Turn on the drain valve using a screwdriver. Allow the water to run out the hose until when it will stop. It might take 20 to 60 minutes depending on the size of your tank. Be keen while opening and closing your drain valve. You might break it or damage it when you force it. Be ready to frequently empty your bucket if you chose to use one.

Step 6

After the water has completely drained from the tank, turn on and close the drain valve three times to stir up and get rid of the lingering sediments at the bottom of the tank. For you to force sediment out the drain valve, you can use compressed air.  Be ready since the water will flow at a higher speed. If you feel that you have problems or you are not sure of what to do, get in contact with a licensed plumber.

Step 7

Now, you should repeat the steps above until when you will see clear water draining from the garden hose. Allow the hot water faucet to be on while you do this. This will enable the water which is blocked in hot water lines to get flushed.

Step 7

When you notice that clear water is now draining from the hose, disconnect it and close the drain valve. Make sure you close tightly but do not force it as you might damage it.

Step 8

Here, open the cold water supply valve. Let the tank get refilled with water till it’s full. Open the hot water tap to remove bubbles. When you see an unobstructed flow of water from the hot water tap, turn it off.

Step 9

Finally, check for leaks from the drain valve which is at the bottom of your tank. If you find out that it is leaking, check if there is sediment blocking the drain.  If you are not able to solve the problem, call a professional. Always make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guide while restarting your water heater.

Reasons to flush your water heater.

Flushing your water heater is essential as it extends your tank’s life. Here are valid reasons on why you should flush your water heater.

Reduces or eliminates noise.

Water heaters can start making crackling, banging and popping sounds due to the interior build-up of scale. The noises can be bothersome if your water heater is near a living space at your house. The best reaction you can make to this is descaling and flushing the tank as soon as you get to hear the noises.

Improvement on the heating speed of the water heater

Does it take longer for your water heater to heat up?  The blame might be on the foreign materials that have settled or built up at the bottom of your tank. The more sediments in your water heater tank, the more difficult it is for the heat transfer process. Get back your water heater with a simple fix which is flushing away the silts.

Allows the equipment to last longer.

The lifespan of most water years is eight to 12 years. If you do not take care of yours, expect it to break down earlier than that time span. A buildup of scale contributes a lot to early failure of your water heater. Comparing the cost of replacing a water heater and maintaining it, flushes are a bargain. When you do a little maintenance, the life of your water heater can be extended by four or more years.

Energy bills lower.

The operational cost of your water heater reduces if you flush it as recommended.  More energy will be consumed when it’s tough for your heating element to transfer heat thus higher utility bills. Besides, you may end up incurring higher costs on repairs, as some parts fall victim to clogging sediments and corrosive scale deposits. Whenever you flush your tank, the faster the heat transfers to your water heater hence less energy used. It’s more likely that you will notice a drop in your energy bills. Generally, flushing your water heater tank is a worthwhile investment.

Ensures or maintains warranty protection.

You will probably be able to maintain your tank if it came with warranty protection. If you keep up with frequent flushing of your water heater, you can claim for any damage that might occur, since the manufacturer honors the warranty. Most of the warranties do not do coverage of scale failure. So you need to have proof that your tank fails for some other reasons.  

Finally, the scale builds up in your water, depends on how much water you use, the level of the mineral content of the incoming water, the extension on which you keep your water hot. You need to follow your manufacturer's guide for the better performance of your water heater.

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