Most people don’t give a second thought to their water heaters. They turn on the faucet or the shower and expect hot water to come out within a minute or two. However, water heaters need a periodic maintenance task called flushing. Regularly flushing your water heater can help prevent problems and costly repairs and extend the appliance’s life.
Why Your Water Tank Needs Periodic Flushing
Flushing helps clean the system of mineral buildup and other debris. Illinois has hard water, so the water that comes into your home has a high concentration of calcium, magnesium, iron and other minerals. Hard water can lead to a buildup of sediment, which settles at the tank’s bottom. This sediment can block the water heater’s pressure relief valve and reduce the appliance’s efficiency. It also can compromise the heater’s safety. And bacteria can build up in the tank, degrading the quality of the water you use.
Benefits of Water Heater Flushing
Regularly flushing your water heater does more than remove sediment from the tank. You’ll realize these primary benefits through periodic cleaning.
Mineral deposits can drastically decrease the system’s ability to heat water. As deposits accumulate, your system will have to work harder and harder to heat the water. Suddenly, you’ll have no hot water for the shower or dishwasher one day because the heating element is worn out. Accumulated debris will lead to longer waiting times for hot water to appear because of a more difficult heat transfer process. Water will also turn cold faster.
Improved Energy Efficiency
With high energy prices, many homeowners are concerned about energy efficiency. A water heater that must work harder uses more energy. If it’s working harder than it has to, you’ll spend more on utility bills. Regular flushing will maintain its efficiency and keep your energy costs to a minimum.
Avoid Rust and Property Damage
Draining your water heater can help prevent the tank from rusting. Excessive rust can ultimately erode the tank. Pressure and relief valves can also rust when they don’t work properly.In extreme circumstances, your tank might explode. Regular flushing can help prevent extensive damage to your home if such problems occur.
Avoid Foul Odors
Do you remember the accumulated bacteria we talked about earlier? Stagnant water in the tank, along with bacteria, can lead to unpleasant odors coming from the water heater. Those smells will only increase if flushing doesn’t occur.
How to Flush a Water Heater
When considering how to flush your water heater, you may feel intimidated. After all, it’s not a topic regularly covered in school. You’re not the first homeowner unaware of this job’s importance. Flushing a water heater is not a task for someone with few handyperson skills, even if you regularly perform other home maintenance tasks.
Accidentally burning yourself with the tank’s hot water before the water has cooled is the most significant danger of the draining process. Anyone draining a tank should work only with cold water by shutting off the heater and giving it enough time to cool. Flooding can also occur if you overestimate the capacity of the draining location. This problem can also occur if the water coming from the hose has high pressure or if the heater leaks at the connection of the drain valve and the hose.
Before beginning, assess where the water will drain, and then collect towels to soak up any spilled water, along with a hose long enough to reach your drain area and a bucket. Once everything is ready, you can follow these steps.
1. Turn Off the Water Heater Thermostat
For gas-powered units, look for an “Off” button toward the bottom of the heater. If you have an electric appliance, shut off power at the electrical panel or breaker box.
2. Turn off the Gas Supply
This critical step only applies to gas heaters. You should find an “Off” button leading to the pipe to the thermostat.
3. Turn Off the Cold Water Supply
Locate a switch or valve near the top of the unit that controls the cold water flow, and turn it off. For some connections, the valve may be part of your home’s plumbing just before the unit’s water intake.
4. Let the Water Cool
You don’t have to let the water cool completely, but allow enough time so that you won’t suffer burns if water splashes on you. Some people let the water cool overnight or throughout the day, but if you are in a hurry, you can open a faucet before turning off the cold water supply and let the hot water run out until it turns cold. However, if you do this, you’ll also waste a significant amount of water.
5. Connect the Drainage Spigot
Use your garden hose for this step. Place one end of the hose wherever you want to drain the water. Put it in a secure place, which can be outside or into a bathtub, utility sink or large bucket. Ensure that the drainage location is at or below the height of the water heater drain valve. Connect the other end to the heater’s drainage fixture, and secure it.
6. Open the Valve and Drain
Depending on the size of your tank and how much sediment is located within it, the tank may take a while to drain, so you need to be patient. Keep an eye on the quality of the draining water. Let the tank continue to drain until the water runs clear. Every 10 to 15 minutes, drain the water into a bucket, and allow it to settle. If sediment is still present, continue the process. Stay close while draining so that you can detect leaks, notice any strange sounds or realize that you have too much sediment to flush the tank without the help of professional plumbers like those at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.
You’re finally ready to flush. Turn on the cold water supply again, and let the water run through the hose. This step will accomplish a final flushing of the tank. Once it is clear, you will have finished the flushing process.
8. Allow the Tank to Refill
Close the drain valve, and remove the garden hose. Turn on the cold water supply, and let the tank fill. Keep a faucet open and running at full pressure until you see no hesitation in water flow, and then turn it off. When you have accomplished this, you can turn on the heater again.
Let TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing Flush Your Water Heater
Removing all the sediment may be difficult if you haven’t flushed your water heater in years. At TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing, we have a $49 special that will make quick and thorough work of draining your water heater, improving its efficiency and extending its life.
We also offer an entire range of plumbing, sewer line and drain services, along with heating and cooling maintenance, repair and installation. We are your one-stop shop for your home’s vital systems.
Contact our team at TR Miller Heating, Cooling & Plumbing today to schedule water heater flushing or any of our other services in Plainfield, IL, and nearby areas.