Get The Maximum Life From Your Water Heater

You can get nearly 12 years of use from your residential water heater, if you do a little maintenance on it every year. Sediment in the water can accumulate in the steel tank and cause it to rust. In severe cases of rust, the water tank can actually burst. Flushing out your water heater every year prevents the sediment buildup and lets you get the longest life from the unit. If you're a homeowner and enjoy DIY projects on the home, here are the steps to flush out your water heater.

Supplies Needed

  • channel lock pliers
  • garden hose
  • some old rags for cleanup
  • large bucket (optional)

Flushing Out Your Water Heater

  1. If you have an electric water heater, turn the power off to the unit at the circuit breaker box for the house.
  2. If you have a gas water heater, turn the pilot light dial to "Off".
  3. Attach the garden hose to the drain at the bottom of the water heater tank.
  4. If the water heater is at or above ground level, run the hose outside and onto the driveway. This allows the dirty water to flow into the city storm drains and not into your yard.
  5. If the water heater is in the basement, run the end of the hose into a bucket. When the bucket is full, take it outside and dump it into the city storm sewer. Do not run the hose into a drain in your house because the sediment may clog the drain.
  6. Turn off the water supply line running into the top of the water heater.
  7. Turn on one of the hot water faucets in the house. This prevents a vacuum from forming in the plumbing when the water heater tank drains.
  8. Open the drain at the bottom of the water heater and allow the tank to drain completely.
  9. Turn on the water supply at the top of the water heater and allow the fresh water to flush out any remaining sediment in the tank.
  10. When you see no more sediment coming out of the hose, turn off the drain at the bottom of the water heater and shut off the hot water faucet you left on in the house.
  11. Allow the tank to fill up completely.
  12. Disconnect the hose from the drain valve.
  13. Turn the electricity back on or set the gas dial to "Pilot" and relight the gas jets.

Problems You May Encounter

If you experience any of the following issues, you will need the help of one of the local plumbing services to correct the problems.

  • You can't open the drain valve because of corrosion or the drain leaks when you turn it off. The plumber will have to replace the drain valve for you.
  • You hear knocking sounds in the tank as you flush it out. These are large pieces of sediment that have broken apart and are hitting the side of the tank. This may indicate that your water heater is at the end of its life. A plumber can inspect the inside of the steel tank to determine if it is about ready to rust through and needs to be replaced

For plumbing services, contact a company such as Roto-Rooter Sewer & Drain Service.