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How to Flush Your Water Heater

Do you want to make the most out of your hot water heater? Making sure it continues to last for many additional years is a lot simpler than you might think. When it comes to maintaining this appliance, there’s one thing you should do: flush your water heater once a year. Flushing removes sediment buildup in the bottom of the tank, ensuring cleaner water and more efficient heating, which saves you money.

Flushing a water heater is simple, and on this blog, our Charlotte plumbers will explain how you can do it right in your own home using a few tools which you probably already have lying around.

What you need:

  • A typical garden hose (though you may want to make sure it’s leak-free and long enough to reach outside
  • A bucket to serve as a reservoir.
  • A water pump (if your water heater is located in your basement)
  • A wrench (if required to turn valves on your heater on and off)

Preparing to flush your water heater

Setup for the job is fairly simple. The first thing you want to do is shut off your heating to your tank. If you have a gas-style heater turn the thermostat down to the “pilot” setting, or turn the gas off completely. If you have an electric heater, simply shut it off at the thermostat. Next, shut off the cold water to your tank as well, usually found at a tap located near the top of the tank. Inside your home, turn on one of your hot water taps, either in a bathtub or sink, which eliminates vacuums in your hot water lines. Then, with your bucket is sitting beneath your pressure release valve’s drain pipe on your tank, open the pressure release valve. Be careful, water will come out of the valve and it will be hot.

Then comes the longest part of the job: waiting for the water to cool. This may seem like a waste, but trust us, you’re not going to want to try to empty a tank full of hot water. You could and more than likely will burn yourself if you try, so it isn’t worth the risk. Once the water has cooled, connect your garden hose to your water heater’s drain spigot, usually easily found at the bottom of the tank (it usually has threads on it that look like the hose will screw onto it easily). Make sure the other end of your hose either empties into a bucket or to a drain outside your home.

That’s it. You’re ready to to begin flushing your water heater.

The Flushing Process

Open the drain spigot and water should quickly come pouring out of your garden hose either outside or into your bucket. At first, this water will likely be brown-ish colored and cloudy. This is because this first bit of water coming out is more than likely full of sediment that has accumulated at the bottom of your tank. Continue to allow the water heater to drain until the water appears to be coming out clean and clear. If you haven’t drained your tank in some time, this may take a while, and you may have to drain most of your tank to achieve this level of clarity.

Once you’re getting clear water, open the cold water valve leading to your water heater and let it run for a few minutes. Then use your bucket to collect some of the clear-looking water. If you look in the bottom and notice small bits of sediment, allow the water to continue to flush through the tank for a few more minutes. Then re-check the water. When the water coming out of your hose is clear and sediment free, your water heater is flushed out and good to go.

Shut off your drainage spigot and allow the hose to clear, close your pressure relief valve, and turn off the hot water tap in your home that you had originally turned on to eliminate vacuums. The cold water from the tank’s main feed will begin to fill the tank. Once it’s full, open the pressure relief valve one more time to let out any trapped air in the tank, then shut it again. Turn your thermostat back to your desired temperature and you should be good to go! In about half an hour or so, you should have hot water coming through your taps again. That's it - you've successfully flushed your water heater!

If you’re having a problem with your water heater, call Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Charlotte by dialing (704) 842-9508 and get it repaired today!