How Often Should You Drain Your Water Heater?

How Often Should You Drain Your Water Heater

Your home is a place where you try to fix things like an expert. Dealing with your water heater is one such area where you have to become the ‘know-it all’. The right time to drain your water heater and the right way to do it should be the first two lessons in your ‘water heater book’!

A water heater is recommended to be drained once every year. This is to be done to ensure that the water heater is devoid of any sediment that builds up at the bottom of the machine. To do it successfully without an expert’s help, one needs to know the proper steps to do it.

So let’s see more about this. Shall we?

Why should I drain my water heater?

You might have faced the problem of your water heater not working to its best; the water not hot enough; the heating not stable etc. Then do not fail to check the inside of your heater.

You will find that the base of the heater is filled with sediments. Yes, that is right! The natural minerals in water over time get accumulated at the base creating a block.

What are all the problems caused by sediment build-up in your water heater?

      • Long time for water to heat
      • Increased energy consumption
      • Lessens life span of the water heater
      • The efficiency of the machine reduces
      • Can make the mechanism erratic leading to noise

The sediment build-up depends on factors such as :

      • Hardness of water
      • The efficiency of the cleaning system (if there is one).
      • Water type

Sediments will look like sand particles and with time they can take up considerable space in your water heater. At times, along with minerals, particles of limescale can also be part of the build-up.

Limescale is the white coating that occurs on pipes, mostly old ones. When it disintegrates (into tiny particles) it can stick onto surfaces, eventually rusting and affecting the area.

See also: Should I Replace My Water Heater Before It Fails?

What are the steps to drain my water heater?

To drain a water heater is not that complicated. By following the steps the task can be a piece of cake:

Step 1: Shut off the water supply

The primary step is to shut off the water supply to the heater. As you are planning to drain the already existing water there is no point in letting more water into the same. To turn off the water, just turn the valve located above the heater.

Step 2: Shut down the power

It is important to shut down the power while you do any kind of maintenance involving electrical devices. Make sure you shut down the power supply to your water heater before getting into the core part of the process.

Step 3: Let the water cool

As the water inside the heater stays hot almost all the time, you will have to ensure that the water is cooled before you let it out. Better keep the temperature normal for instances like this.

Step 4: Attach a hose

To safely and neatly drain the tank, attach a hose to the bottom valve of the heater with the other end directly into the floor drain so that the water will be disposed of neatly along with the sediments in it.

Step 5: Turn on a hot water pipe

Turning on a hot water pipe should be the next step. Go for the nearest pipes as this lets the pressure down inside the pipework, making the draining process faster.

Step 6: Open the drain valve

Open the valve that lets the water out. Drain the heater completely. It would be better if you run the spigots inside the heater. They are set for the purpose of sediment removal. Proper cleaning can be ensured along with their help. 

Step 8: Turn the water supply on

Lastly, turn on the water supply to ensure that the entire tank is flushed. New water getting into the heater can flush any other particles left behind, thereby ensuring that the task is fully done.

Observe the color of the water that is drained and ensure that it is clear. Once you are satisfied with what you see, close the drain valve.

Step 9: Turn the water heater on

Turn the cold water valve at the top and let it fill the tank. Once it fills the tank you can turn on the water supply to the heater and it is now in a brand new condition!

When not to drain your water heater?

Beware! You shall not go for this task if you are not completely aware of the procedure or have doubts regarding it. 

Ensure that you are comfortable with draining the tank by yourself. When you are doing it for the first time, make sure that there is someone to help you with the task. As you get involved with elements such as water and electricity, an extra hand would not be so much to ask for.

If you are not feeling at ease or lack confidence, you should take the assistance of an expert. Plumbers and electricians can easily do the job without complications. 

If the flushing is not done yearly, the sediments tend to harden up and get inside the surface of the heater through rusting. In this case, the situation can get a little complicated as the holes created through rusting get filled with sediments and when you flush them out, leakage of water can be a problem.

Imagine, hot water leaking from your water heater. Therefore, always be prompt with cleaning, observe the heat tanker and understand the condition of it and decide whether to go for flushing or replace the whole machine.

Can I remove sediment build-up in my water heater any other way?

Apart from the normal way of flushing the sediments out, you can go for other viable methods too. 

1.) Self-Cleaning System: Certain manufactures of water heaters provide cleaning systems to prevent any sediment build-up in the water heater. Specially designed for this purpose the systems ensure that no particles get accumulated while the water heater is working in its full mode.

In addition to this, they improve the energy efficiency and reduced upkeep expenses required for the water heaters. Mechanisms differ based on the technology adopted by the companies. Some examples of such cleaning systems include:

2.) Hydrojet Total Performance System by Bradford White – it works by fighting the sediments build up as and when it tends to occur, thereby not giving a chance for any kind of disturbance to the machine extending the lifespan of the same.

3.) Evergreen Self-Cleaning System by Rheem- The high pressure spiraling technology used in this is strong enough to flush out any particles that are there inside the heater.

4.) DynaClean by AO Smith – This self-cleaning mechanism makes use of dip tubes that create turbulence inside the heater with cold water promising a thorough clean.

5.) Vinegar flush: Vinegar is considered to be an excellent agent for sediment removal. With the unique properties of vinegar, the extra effort to remove the sediments in other methods can be avoided.

All you need to do is to pour your household cider vinegar into the tank and let it stay with the water for almost 6 hours. For electric heaters, take the parts out and pour vinegar on them.

With time, the sediments will easily come off. Wash the parts and set them back. For the former flush the water the normal way.

To conclude

There is often a tendency to get too involved with the procedure that you end up making mistakes. For water heaters, flushing them need not be a hectic task if you are aware of each step and learn to do them with practice.

Remember this comes only once a year and if needed, spending some bugs for an expert hand is not a bad decision.

Hope by now you know what to do the next time you find your water heater blocked!

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