How do I maintain my water heater so it lasts a long time?

Prolong the life of your home’s water heater by making sure to occasionally remove sediment from the tank. This is a maintenance task you can easily complete yourself, saving you money on a plumber, both now and later! These tips and tricks will help you flush out your water heater and keep it in its best condition for years to come.

How do I maintain my water heater so it lasts a long time?

Why do I need to clean my water heater?

Over time — especially if you have hard water — sediment builds up in the bottom of your water heater tank. This buildup adversely affects the water heater’s efficiency and storage capacity, and, left untended, can potentially result in a damaged water heater, which means expensive repairs and possibly replacement costs for you.

How do I clean my water heater?

The easiest way to clean a water heater is to flush out all of the water, and built-up sediment will go with it. Follow these steps to flush out your water heater:

  1. If you have an electric heater, turn off the electricity that’s connected to the heater. This may mean turning off a breaker so you are certain the unit is deactivated. If you do not do this and the heating element comes on while the tank is empty, the element could burn out and require replacing. For gas water heaters, turn the gas dial to the lowest setting/pilot setting.
  2. Find the cold water supply line valve and turn it completely off.
  3. Attach a long garden hose to the drain valve as it will attach in just the same way as you would attach a hose to a spigot outside your home. Run the hose outside (keep away from kids or pets!) or into a large bucket.
  4. Turn on any hot water faucet in your house (the nearest faucet is a good choice).
  5. Open the drain valve (what you’ve attached the hose to) on your water heater and let the water completely drain.
  6. To loosen more sediment, close the drain valve and turn on the cold water valve. The pressure of the cold water rushing in may cause more sediment to dislodge. Repeat steps two through five.
  7. If the water being drained out is still not clear, have the drain valve open while you run the cold water into the tank. Watch the water as it drains, until it runs clear.
  8. Close the drain valve, remove the hose, turn on the cold water supply valve and wait for the water heater to fill.
  9. Open all of the hot water faucets in your house (remember, one of them is already opened, because of step four) to remove air and allow the water to flow through smoothly. The water will be cold because you’ve not yet turned the heat back on in the water tank.
  10. Finally, reverse what you did in step one to turn the heating element back on.

Establish a routine

It’s wise to flush out your water heater to remove sediment at least once a year. Put it on your calendar, and you’ll never forget!

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