Flush Water Heater


Flush Your Water Heater

Each year thousands of gallons of cold water enters your hot water heater - carrying tiny amounts of sand, rust and dissolved minerals (sediment). You need to flush this sediment once per year, to improve the efficiency of your hot water heater, thus saving you money and extending the life of the water heater. This is a very simple process that anyone can do. If your hot water heater just doesn't heat the water like the old days, or you hear popping sounds from your water heater, you may not need an expensive water heater repair, just a simple water heater flush.

Before we take you through the steps, here's a few additional suggestions to save money on your hot water.

flush water heater

Turn down the Temperature

Your hot water heater is likely set between 115 F and 150 F. Experts on home energy use suggest a setting between 110 F & 120 F.

Wrap Water Heater with a Blanket

Available from your local hardware store and easy to install, a water heater blanket is usually a very good idea. On gas water heaters, make sure you leave room at the bottom for fresh air to get in and feed the fire, and keep the blanket away from the flue at the top. The top of the heater also needs fresh air to help the exhaust leave the home.

Wash Clothes in Cold Water

Most of the cost of washing clothes, is used to heat the water. Use a cold water detergent and wash on the cold cycle.

Low Flow Shower Heads

Replacing an older shower head with a low flow head, can reduce your water consumption in the shower by half. Big benefit for very low cost.


How to Flush your Water Heater

  1. First, turn off the power to the water heater. For an electric heater, turn off the electricity at the breaker box or at a nearby fuse box or cut-off box. For a gas burner water heater, turn the gas setting on the water heater to pilot, or turn it off completely. Whether gas or electric, consult your water heater manual for instructions and follow them.
  2. Second, turn off the cold water supply. now open a hot water tap somewhere in the house. This will allow air into the tank so it can drain.
  3. Now attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the base of the tank and run it outside or to a nearby floor drain, if there is one. Water doesn't drain uphill. If your hot water tank is in the basement and you don't have an in floor drain, you may need to drain the tank using a one or two gallon pail. Be careful - the water is hot and can burn you.
  4. When the tank is empty, open the cold water valve at the top, to flush the tank. You may need to pulse the water on and off, to get more of the sediment and scale out of the tank.
  5. Once only crystal clear water is flushing out of the tank, you can remove the drain hose, turn the cold water back on. Let the tank fill, before closing the hot water tap that you opened earlier. Only AFTER the tank is full, should you turn on the electricity of pilot/gas. If you turn on an electric water heater that is not full, you will likely burn out a heating element. Follow the instructions in your water heater manual for this process.

To maintain a new water heater or one that has been recently flushed, drain the sediment at least once a year. For your yearly flush, there is no need to turn off the water heater or the cold water supply. Simply attach a hose to the drain valve, then open the valve and remove a couple quarts of water. When the water comes out clear, you're done. This will only take a minute or two.


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