Flushing Your Water Heater Helps Avoid Costly Repairs
Updated: Oct 26
Flushing your water heater regularly can help prevent costly repairs in the future.
Amount of Time Needed: Approximately 30 Minutes
Skill Level: Beginner
Why is this Needed: Over time, sediment buildup within your water heater can lead to an inefficient unit by blocking the heating element. When the heating element is blocked, the water heater works harder and can decrease the longevity of the unit. If you think of your water heater as a small investment, you will want to get the most of your investment as possible.
Tools and Equipment Needed: Garden Hose, Flat-head screwdriver
Disclaimer: Always consult your owner’s manual or any supporting documents to verify steps and determine how often to flush your water heater. If you have any questions or concerns, please call Hoffman Plumbing at (775) 882-4533.
Most people don't think about their water heater until it breaks. And by then, it's usually too late. Over time, sediment buildup within your water heater can lead to an inefficient unit by blocking the heating element. When the heating element is blocked, the water heater works harder and can decrease the longevity of the unit. So if you think of your water heater as a small investment, you will want to get the most out of your investment as possible.
To avoid costly repairs down the line, it is important to flush your water heater every year. This simple maintenance task only takes a few minutes and can be done without having to call a professional.
Step 1. Turn Off the Power to your Water Heater
This step is critical! If you don't turn off the power, you could electrocute yourself. Locate the breaker box and flip the switch that corresponds to your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, you'll need to turn the knob to "pilot" mode.
Step 2. Attach a Hose to the Drain Valve
Once the power is off, attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the unit. You must use a hose that can reach an outdoor drain or sink because there will be a lot of water coming out of the valve. Ensure a tight connection to avoid water leaking from the connection between the spigot and the hose.
Lay out and extend your garden hose. You will want to place the end of your hose in an area for the hot water to drain into. Appropriate areas for this drainage are gravel, down your driveway, or into the street gutter.
Pro-Tip: If possible, avoid having the hot water drain into areas with grass, flower beds, or any landscaped vegetation as the hot water may damage your plants, shrubs, flowers, and trees.
Step 3. Open up the Drain Valve
Slowly open up the drain valve and let the Sediment-filled Hot Water flush out into your chosen receptacle. Depending on how much sediment has built up, this could take a while. The water will be hot, please exercise caution to avoid injury and patient to let it all flush out.
Gate-Valve: Twist the handle counter-clockwise multiple times.
Screwdriver Handle: Insert a flat-head screwdriver into the slot and twist counter-clockwise multiple times.
Ball-Valve: Move the handle into the ‘on’ position, the handle will be aligned in the same direction as the pipe.
To flush your water heater, you will allow water to flow for 5 minutes, followed by 5 minutes of non-flow. This cycle of 5 minutes flowing, and 5 minutes non-flowing will be performed 3 times.
Step 4. Close up Shop
After the last cycle of water flowing for 5 minutes, all of the water has been flushed out, close up the drain valve and turn on the power (or gas). You may need to wait 5-10 minutes for hot water to start flowing again from your faucets. And that's it! You've successfully flushed your water heater and can rest easy knowing that costly repairs are one less thing you have to worry about next year!
Prevent Costly Repairs
By flushing your water heater every year, you can avoid costly repairs and extend its lifespan. While it may seem like a daunting task, flushing your water heater is quite easy and only takes a few minutes. So next time you're thinking about putting off this simple maintenance task, remember how much money it could save you in the long run!
If you're wondering if it's time to invest in a new water heater or have a professional repair your old one, or if you have other questions, check out our library of Water Heater FAQs or call your local Hoffman Plumbing office at (775) 882-4533.