How to Flush Your Water Heater

Time: 1 hour

Your hot water heater is a crucial piece of your home's infrastructure. Without it, you'd face icy showers and less-than-sparkling dishes and laundry. Over time, minerals can accumulate in your water heater's storage tank, and this can reduce its effectiveness. Drain your water heater at least once a year to keep it in good shape. Follow these tips to flush your water heater properly–it's easier than you think.

What's in it for you?

  • Cleaner water
  • Lower electric bill
  • Longer water heater life

How to Flush Your Water Heater:

  1. Turn off your water heater. First, turn off the gas or electricity to your water heater for safety. Turn down the thermostat to the "off" position, if there is one. To help cool the water inside the tank, turn on the faucet in your kitchen to run the hot water for 10 minutes. After that waiting period, turn off the water entry valve at the top of the tank–but keep the hot water running at the tap the whole time you drain your tank,
    creating a vacuum in your pipes.
  2. Attach a drainage hose. Near the bottom of your hot water heater is a drainage
    spigot. Screw a garden hose to the outlet, making sure your hose is long enough to reach the floor drain in your basement. Place an old colander or sieve over the drain to catch sediment. If you don't have a floor drain, place the hose end in a large bucket–you may want to have several standing by.
  3. Drain the tank. Once your hose is in place, open the drainage spigot and allow the warm water to exit. Let it run until you don't see any more sediment collecting. If your water tank is very dirty, you may need to drain the whole thing.
  4. Flush the tank. Turn the cold water valve at the top of the tank back on. This will allow fresh water to run straight through your tank and out the drain, forcing out any additional sediment. Continue until your water runs clean and clear.
  5. Turn your tank back on. Turn off the drainage spigot and disconnect the drainage hose. You can also turn off your hot water tap in the kitchen as your hot water tank refills itself. Restore power to the water heater and set your thermostat at the desired temperature. Finally, clean up your equipment and throw sediment away.
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