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Flushing Your Water Heater: The Why, When, And How

Water heaters will last around 10 to 12 years, but they can begin to work less efficiently and are more likely to fail without proper maintenance. One way to keep your water heater well-maintained is to flush it out once or twice a year. Flushing out your tank helps to remove any sediment that builds up over time. Fortunately, performing this task isn’t too complicated, and it’s well worth the effort.

What Are the Main Benefits of Flushing Out Your Water Heater?
Sediment can eventually settle near the bottom of your water heater. Over time, this causes your water heater to operate less efficiently due to the sediment creating a thick barrier between the water and the heating element. This also makes it more difficult to heat the water, which costs you more money and puts additional strain on your water heater.

Not taking the extra time to flush your water heater can also result in costly repairs. For example, sediment can eventually break off and cause a blockage inside the tank. Too much sediment can even cause hot spots within the tank, which will cause it to warp. Flushing your water heater once or twice a year can help you avoid these costly repairs.

Here is an overview of how to flush out your water heater.

Turn Off Water Heater
The first step in flushing your water heater is to turn off the power switch if it’s electric or turn the thermostat to the “pilot” option if it’s a gas heater. It’s also important to make sure no one is taking a shower, washing clothes, or using the dishwasher while you are performing this task.

Turn Off Cold Water Valve
The next step is to turn off the cold water valve. Doing this step is essential, or you will be unable to drain your water heater. Letting the water cool inside your tank is also important, as it may take a couple of hours for a larger tank.

Attach a Hose to the Drain Valve
Once the water cools down, you can attach a hose to the drain valve that’s located on the side of your water heater. Making sure the hose is securely connected to the thread is key to preventing any leaks while you are draining the tank.

Place The Other End of the Hose in a Bucket
Afterward, you will need to place the other part of the hose inside a heat-proof bucket. It’s also important to have several large buckets nearby to make it easier to drain your water heater without having to constantly empty the same bucket over and over again.

Turn On a Couple of Faucets
Turning on one or two faucets is also recommended in removing the vacuum within your plumbing system while you drain your water heater tank. All you need to do is turn on the “hot” setting faucet and leave it on, as you won’t notice a lot of water coming from the faucet due to the cold water valve being shut off.

Begin Draining Your Water Heater
You will likely need to use a flathead screwdriver to open the drain valve. Once it’s opened, you will notice that the sediment will begin to drain through the hose and into your bucket. Typically, this process can take anywhere from 20 to 60 minutes, as it primarily depends on the size of your tank.

Finish Up the Process
Once the sediment is removed from the water heater, it’s time to turn off the drain valve, and you will need to take off the hose. You will switch the cold water valve back on and make sure the water heater is on to activate the heating element. It’s recommended to leave your taps on until they reach a normal flow. Once complete, you will need to wait around 30 minutes to make sure your water heater is working normally.

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