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Getting The Most From Your Water Heater

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With a little care, you should get from six to twelve years from your home water heater. An annual inspection by a water heater repair company will make sure that the thermostat, heating elements and safety valve are all working optimally. In between inspections, you can flush the water tank to prevent build up of mineral deposits that can cause the tank to rust. This is an easy project that takes some simple tools and a couple of hours of your time. Make the maintenance of your water heater a routine part of your homeowner responsibilities and get the most life from it.

Tools You Will Need

  • garden hose
  • channel lock pliers
  • bucket (optional)
  • old rags for cleanup

Flushing Out the Water Heater Step-by-Step

  1. Turn the power off to your water heater at the circuit box for your house.
  2. Connect one end of the garden hose to the drain at the bottom of the water heater.
  3. If the water heater is at ground level, place the other end of the hose outside on the driveway where the sediment from the water heater won't hurt your yard.
  4. If the water heater is in your basement, you'll have to run the hose into a bucket.
  5. Turn off the water supply to the water heater with the valve at the top of the tank.
  6. Turn on one of the hot water faucets in the house so a vacuum doesn't develop and stop the tank from draining.
  7. Open the drain at the bottom of the water heater to begin draining the tank.
  8. If using a bucket, shut off the drain when it's full and empty it outside. Don't put the water down a household drain or you might clog it up with the sediment.
  9. Allow the water tank to drain completely.
  10. Turn on the water supply at the top of the tank to flush out any remaining sediment.
  11. Continue until the water coming out of the hose looks clear.
  12. Close the drain on the bottom of the water heater.
  13. Disconnect the garden hose from the drain.
  14. Turn off the hot water faucet that you left on in the house.
  15. Allow the water tank to fill completely with fresh water.
  16. Turn the power on to the water heater at the circuit box for the house.

Problems You May Encounter

If you experience any of the following problems, you'll need a plumber from the water heater repair company to help.

  • The drain valve is rusted shut and you can't open it.
  • The drain leaks after you've shut it off.
  • If you hear banging inside of the tank as you flush it, large pieces of hardened sediment have broken away from the tank and are hitting the sides. This likely means that your water heater is reaching its final stages and needs to be replaced before the steel water tank rusts through.  

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