How to Flush your Water Heater

Flashlight on Water Heater

Of all the chores that homeowners need to do, flushing the water heater is one that many people overlook. Do you know how to drain and flush your water heater? It’s not very hard, but it does need to be done annually to prevent mineral buildup and help your water heater last longer. Note: some people recommend doing this every six months in areas with hard water, and if you live in the San Jose area, that probably applies to you. Here are some easy steps if you’re ready to give it a shot.

  • First, turn off the cold water supply to your water heater. The valve for this is typically near the top of the hot water heater.
  • Turn off the power to the hot water heater. The way you’ll do this varies based on the type of water heater you have. If it’s electric, you’ll need to turn the power off at the circuit box. If you have a gas water heater, turn the thermostat on the tank to off and close the gas valve to the tank.
  • Connect a garden hose to the water heater’s drain valve. The valve is a water spigot on the bottom of the water heater. Attach a hose and direct it outside or into a bucket. If you direct it outside, make sure it’s directed far enough away from your foundation.
  • Turn on your hot water taps. If you don’t want to turn them all on, open one on the main floor, or on a higher floor than your water tank. Turning them on all will help your water tank drain more quickly, though.
  • Open the drain valve on the water heater. Keep it open until all of the water has run out of the tank. Depending on the size of your tank, this can take between 20 and 60 minutes. Never force the valve open or closed because this can damage it. While the tank is draining, look at the water that’s coming out so that you can get an idea of how much sediment was in the tank.
  • Turn the cold water valve back on. This is the “flush hot water heater” part of the process. Rinse the tank by allowing cold water to run through the tank and out of the hose until the water is clear.
  • Clean out the drain valve. You can open and close it a few times to get rid of the sediment, used compressed air to push the remaining sediment back into the tank, or use a shop vac to suck it out.
  • Close the valve and refill the tank. Turn on the cold water valve and refill the tank with water. When it’s full, your hot water taps should start flowing. If the water flowing from them seems discolored, don’t worry- it’s just a little bit of additional sediment working its way out. Let them run until the water is clear and then turn them off.
  • Turn the heater back on. Either turn back on the power or the gas. Check to make sure your drain valve isn’t leaking, and you’re good to go!

You can certainly flush the hot water heater yourself, but if you’d rather not, you can call on the professional plumbing contractors at Mike Counsil Plumbing and Rooter to provide stellar plumbing service with a smile. Since 1994, we’ve served San Jose, California, and the South Bay Area, building a reputation on excellent service and a 100 percent satisfaction rate. Our family-owned and -operated company is committed to exceeding our clients’ expectations, and our staff is kept up to date on all the latest advances in the industry. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, we’re available to take care of plumbing issues that can’t wait. Call 408.705.4820 or contact us through our website to learn more.

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