Your water heater is one of the more expensive appliances in your home. It can last around 12 years, says the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors. To get the most from your water heater, an annual inspection by a plumbing company, and a thorough flushing out of the water tank will help. Here is how you can flush out your own water heater and improve the chances that you'll get that full 12 years.
Water Heater Anatomy
Your water heater is essentially a large pressure cooker. Cold water enters a steel tank and is heated by electric coils or gas flames, depending on where your unit is gas or electric. As the water heats up, pressure builds in the tank. A thermostat keeps the temperature within a safe range inside the water heater. Should there be a malfunction and the pressure rises too much, a pressure relief valve on the top or side of the tank releases the excess pressure.
The Problem with Sediment
Water has a varying amount of minerals in it, depending on the part of the country you live in. These minerals settle in the holding tank and collect on the bottom. Over time, the layer of sediment can become thick and impact the operation of the water heater resulting in:
You can combat the effects of these mineral deposits by flushing out the water tank.
Flushing Out The Water Heater
1. Turn the power off to an electric water heater at the circuit box, or set the control to "Pilot" on a gas model.
2. Locate the drain on the bottom of the unit and connect a garden hose to it.
3. Run the other end of the hose outside, if you're above ground level, or into a large bucket, if in the basement.
4. Turn the water off to the tank with the shutoff on top of the unit.
5. Turn on a faucet in the house to prevent a vacuum from forming in the plumbing as the tank drains.
6. Open the drain on the water heater and allow the tank to empty.
7. When the water flow stops, turn the water back on to the water heater and allow it to flow out the drain until you can no longer see signs of sediment.
8. When the water being flushed out of the drain is clear, turn off the water to the tank.
9. Close the water heater drain and remove the hose. Shut off the water faucet that you opened in the house. Turn the water back on to the water heater and allow the tank to completely fill.
10. After the tank is full, turn the electricity back on or set the gas control to "On".
While this is an easy procedure, should you encounter any problems, contact a plumber to complete the maintenance. Some of the issues you may encounter include:
The plumber may have to clean or replace the drain valve for it to work properly. They can also test the pressure relief valve and thermostat to make sure those components are working optimally. Talk with a plumbing company like Parkey's Heating, Air Conditioning & Plumbing for help if you run into trouble.
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