The WHY, WHEN, and HOW to Flush Your Water Heater

Posted On: December 19, 2019

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A water heater is one of those things that most people take for granted until the hot water goes out. Many water heaters can run for years without any issues and they will rarely cross your mind. When they do break, it becomes a major headache. Like most appliances, water heaters require periodic maintenance to avoid costly repairs, high water bills, and a shorter life span. Here is the WHY, WHEN, and HOW of flushing your water heater so you can keep hot water flowing for years to come!

Why Flush a Water Heater?

The main reason to flush your water heater is that sediment from your water collects in the water heater and settles at the bottom of the tank. People who have hard water will experience this even more. Two common elements found in hard water are calcium and magnesium. These elements can bind together and form a white, sticky substance called scale. Scale can clog pipes and line the inside of your water heater, which can make it much more difficult for your heater to operate efficiently or maintain normal water pressure.

When to Flush a Water Heater?

Most water heaters should be flushed once a year to maintain efficient performance. One thing to consider is the amount of mineral deposits in your water. While homes with lower mineral deposits should be fine with flushing just once a year or less frequently, those with extremely hard water may require the water heater to be flushed more than once a year.

How to Tell if Your Water Heater Needs to Be Flushed?
Here are a couple of ways to tell if it’s time to flush out your water heater:

  • Sediment in hot water – If it has been a long time since your system was flushed, sediment can actually be seen in the water coming out of your faucet.
  • Noisy water heater – As sediment builds up in your water heater, it settles at the bottom and results in your heat struggling to heat the water. Sometimes water beneath the built-up sediment boils and causes the sediment to rattle as your water heater works to heat up the water. Too much sediment in the bottom of your tank is usually the prime culprit for a noisy system.
  • Taking a long time to heat up – If your water is taking longer than usual to heat up, it may be that the sediment in your water tank has settled at the bottom, making it harder for the heat element to work and heat up the water.
  • Water pressure decreases – Especially with hard water, pipes can be blocked or narrowed by water deposits, which will result in decreased water pressure.

How to Actually Flush a Water Heater
While most people call a plumber to flush their water heater, you can do it yourself if you’re feeling adventurous and are willing! First, you need to turn off the water heater and water supply to the tank. Next, you should attach a hose to the drain valve on your tank and drain all of the water. This process should remove most of the sediment and minerals in the water tank. Then turn off the faucet, remove the hose, and turn the water supply back on to fill the tank back up with clean water. Once the tank has refilled, turn the water heater back on. Many plumbers will go a step further and check other components on the heater and communicate any other potential problems.

If you have additional questions on flushing your water heater or want to schedule a plumber to come out and service your water heater, give Short Pump Heating & Air a call. We also offer tankless water heaters, for those who want to avoid this type of maintenance and gain some efficiency!

Short Pump Heating & Air offers a wide variety of plumbing services – call us today at (804) 364-9040 if you need assistance with your next plumbing repair! 

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