Why and How to Flush Your Water Heater

Your hot-water tank helps give you hot water to do the dishes, wash your clothing, and take a nice, relaxing hot shower. Water heaters aren't meant to last forever, but you can help lengthen the life of this appliance to keep hot water running through your pipes when you need it. See below for tips and instructions on how to flush your hot-water heater.

Why Flush Your Water Heater

You have small particles in your water, such as calcium and other sediment, that over time can settle at the bottom of your hot-water tank. The bottom of your tank (electric water heaters), has a heating element that heats up the water so you have hot water when you want it. All of that sediment will build up on the bottom of the tank, blocking that element. This can cause hot spots that can eventually damage your water heater and cause it to break down. Flushing your tank and removing the sediment will help lengthen the life of your water heater.

How to Flush Your Water Heater

To start, turn off the gas and electricity going to your water heater. Then turn on a faucet in your home to hot. This will help relieve any pressure inside your water heater. Do this for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then turn off the water valves going to your tank. Next, connect a garden hose to the drain valve and open it up. Drain the water either to a floor drain or outside your house. If you are using a floor drain, be sure to use a screen to help catch the sediment that comes out so it doesn't clog your floor drain. Open up the hot-water faucet again to help drain the water. Keep an eye on the garden hose to be sure the sediment isn't blocking the water from coming out. When the tank is empty, take the garden hose off and turn the water off at the faucet. Then, use a shop vacuum and a piece of tubing to help vacuum out any sediment that may remain in the tank. Once you are finished, close the drain valve, turn the water valves back on, and then turn the gas and electricity back on. 

If you run into a problem with the sediment clogging the drain valve, you may need to replace the valve with a new ball valve. This may be a bit more difficult for some homeowners, so if this is something you are not comfortable doing, contact a water-heater repairman for help.