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Maintaining Your Water Heater For A Longer Life

You can expect to get from six to twelve years of service from your water heater. This depends more on the quality of water in your area than usage. If your water contains heavy minerals that leave deposits in the water heater tank, you may only get a few years out of the water heater before the tank rusts through and starts leaking. Flushing the sediment out of the water heater tank every year will prolong its life. Here are the steps to flush your own water heater to get the most service from it.

Materials You'll Need to Do a Water Heater Flush

  • garden hose
  • large bucket
  • channel lock pliers
  • old rags for cleanup

Steps for Flushing the Water Tank

Prep

  1. Turn the electricity off to the water heater if it is electric. If it is a gas water heater, set the control to "Pilot."
  2. Attach the hose to the drain at the bottom of the water heater.
  3. If the water heater is at ground level or above, run the hose outside and place the end on the driveway, where the sediment coming out won't mess up your yard.
  4. If the water heater is below ground, such as in the basement, put the end of the hose in the bucket.
  5. Turn off the water to the water heater at the water pipe coming into the top of the unit.
  6. Open a hot water faucet in a sink somewhere in the house. This prevents a vacuum from forming in the water line, which stops the water tank from draining.

Drain and Flush

  1. Open the drain on the bottom of the water heater to start it draining.
  2. If using the bucket, turn the drain off when the bucket is nearly full and empty the bucket. Put the hose back in the bucket and open the drain again.
  3. Allow the water tank to drain completely.
  4. Turn on the water at the pipe going into the top of the tank to fill and flush the tank with fresh water.
  5. Allow the tank to flush out until you see no signs of sediment.
  6. When the water coming out of the tank is clear, close the drain at the bottom of the tank.

Finish

  1. Turn off the hot water faucet that you left open earlier.
  2. Allow the water heater to fill completely.
  3. Turn the electricity on or set the thermostat to "On" for a gas unit.

Problems You May Encounter

While this is an easy DIY project for most homeowners, you may experience one of the following issues that requires the assistance of a plumber, like those at Brother's Plumbing.

  • The drain on the water heater won't open because of rust or corrosion.
  • The drain leaks once you've closed it after flushing the tank.

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