Your Home Water Heater
Sediment gathering outside your water heater can cause a number of problems.
Sediment can stick to the heating element and form a white scale. And this scale interferes with heat transfer and reduces the heater’s efficiency. And if enough sediment settles at the bottom of the tank, the drain valve can become clogged- that’s a potential safety hazard. Accumulation of sediment in the bottom of your water heater can be controlled with a simple periodic flushing.
Here’s how to flush your water heater to keep it performing the way it should.
You’ll need a flat blade screwdriver, a garden hose, a knee-high stocking, and a rubber band or wire tie.
First, turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker. For gas heaters, you should turn off the gas supply. Next, fasten a length of garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater. Run the other end of the hose to the nearest floor drain or outside the home. Close the shut-off valve at the cold water inlet line. Open a hot-water faucet somewhere in the house that will relieve the system pressure inside the tank. Now, open the drain valve and allow the water to drain.
Remember the water will be hot, be sure no one is near the drain hose so they don’t get scalding. Now, here’s a helpful tip: first slide a knee-high stocking over the end of the hose. Use a rubber band or a wire tie to hold it in place, then drain the water.
The mesh is fine enough to capture the small particles of scale or sediment that you’re flushing out and still allow the water to drain. The amount of sediment material you capture will help you know how often you’ll need to do future flushings.
If you have a big cup full of sediments, flush more often. If you have only a tablespoon of sediment, you’re on the right schedule. You really only need to drain three to five gallons of water to do a proper flushing. When the water stops, close the drain valve and remove the hose.
Open a hot-water faucet somewhere in the home, then open the shut-off valve at the cold water inlet line. You’ll hear the heater start to fill. When you have a steady stream of water from the open faucet, turn the faucet off, then turn the electric power back on at the circuit breaker. For gas heaters, turn the gas supply back on. Finally, check the drain valve one more time to make sure it’s tightly closed.
Flushing Your Home Water Heater
It’s a good idea to flush your heater every six months. In some areas of the country with hard water may need to be flushed more often. Some areas may even require monthly flushings due to water conditions, thermostat settings and the amount of hot water you use.
Ask your water provider to tell you how hard the water is in your neighbourhood. After a few periodic flushings, you’ll discover the schedule that keeps your water heater happy, healthy and working properly.