When was the last time you flushed your water heater? If you’re like most homeowners, your answer is probably either “huh?” or “never.” As a homeowner, you should flush your water heater at least once a year as part of annual home maintenance. The good news is, it’s easy to do.
Why do you have to flush your water heater? Sediment accumulates on the bottom of your water heater over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water. In a gas water heater, these sediment deposits can create hot spots that cause tank damage and failure. In an electric water heater, they can cause the lower heating element to fail. Like cleaning your furnace filters, flushing your water heater will reduce energy use and extend the lifetime of your water heater.
Flushing your water heater is an easy process.
Step One: Turn off gas and electric supply.
If you have a gas water heater, you should find a thermometer toward the bottom of the tank. If you have an electric water heater, you will have to turn off the power supply to your water heater from the breaker box.
Step Two: Allow water heater to cool.
This will allow you to safely flush your water heater without risk of burn.
Step Three: Turn on hot water in sink or tub.
Leaving a flow of water running while you flush your water heater will prevent a vacuum from forming inside the pipes while you drain the tank.
Step Four: Turn off cold water supply to hot water heater.
Step Five: Connect a garden hose to drainage spigot.
You’ll find the drainage spigot located toward the bottom of the water heater. Attach one end of a garden hose to the spigot, making sure that the other end leads into a bucket (unless you want sediment-filled water spilled across your basement floor).
Step Six: Turn spigot on and drain tank.
Let the water drain out of your tank and into the bucket until the water runs clear and you see no remaining signs of sediment. If it’s been several years since you last flushed your water heater, you may need to drain the tank completely to clear it out. In some cases, it may even be necessary for you to refill the tank and drain it again. That’s okay. Keep draining and refilling until the water is no longer brown or discolored.
Step Seven: Flush tank.
Now that your water is running clear, it’s time to flush your water heater. Turn on the cold water spigot and let it run through your tank for a few minutes until water is completely clear and no signs of sediment remains. Turn the spigot back off when you’re done.
Step Eight: Disconnect hose.
When the water runs clear and you see no further signs of sediment, turn off the spigot and disconnect the hose. Dispose of the water in the bucket.
Step Seven: Turn back on the power and water supplies.
You’re all done! That was pretty painless, right? Turn back on your water and power supplies to your water heater and go take a hot, clean shower to celebrate. If you have a gas water heater, be aware that you may need to relight the pilot light.
Now all you have to do is remember to do the whole process again next year!