Flushing Your Hot Water Heater
Have you flushed your hot water heater lately? Did you know such a thing should or could even be done? Heater manufacturers and service professionals alike recommend to flush your heater’s system periodically to keep it running at maximum efficiency, with the highest reliability, for many years to come.
Before jumping into the step-by-step instructions on how to flush your water heater, there are a few bits of information that are helpful to know about why it is such a necessary maintenance step for proper care and longevity of your heating system:
Sediment build-up from sand, gravel, well or ground-water grit, and other deposits that inevitably contaminate municipal water mains, is expected to some degree but easily alleviated with regular flushes.
How often flushing is required will depend on the quality of water in your area. Higher mineral and chemical content requires a greater frequency of flushing.
Neglected build-up may result in reduced tank capacity, loud or odd noises emitting from the heater, clogged drain valves, or (as previously stated) a decrease in overall efficiency.
Heater flushing can be a messy procedure. It is recommended to read through the instructions below first before you start servicing your water heater. Doing so should help to accurately plan, minimising the mess and increasing the ease of the process as much as possible.
Flush It Away, Step by Step!
For gas water heaters, first verify the gas valve is set to PILOT. This will prevent burners from turning on while your heater is being serviced.
For electric water heaters, verify the circuit breaker connected to the heating system is in the OFF position to ensure your safety and protect the heater from overheating.
Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located at the tank’s bottom. As this will be used for discharging hot, sometimes scalding, water, you will want to make certain the designated area is safe and clear of others, especially pets and children.
Close the shut-off valve for the cold water inlet.
Release the temperature and pressure relief valve located at the top of the tank by lifting the lever and leaving it in the OPEN position.
Open the drain valve connected to the garden hose. Water should start discharging from the tank, through the hose, to the designated discharge area.
If sediment appears to be clogged in the valve, it may be able to be ‘power flushed’ out by closing the relief valve and turning the cold inlet back on.
Sediment may harden into larger coagulates that may prove more difficult to break up. If needed, let the system cool before detaching the garden hose and using an elongated tool—such as a long-stemmed screwdriver—to break up clogs.
Once the hose runs completely clear, you have successfully flushed out all the gunk!
Close the drain valve located at the tank’s bottom and detach the garden hose.
If still open, close the relief valve and turn the cold water inlet back on.
Open a hot water tap, letting it run until there are no more air bubbles emitted.
Turn your heater back on. If using a gas heater, also re-light the pilot light, as needed.