Like many other things in your home, your hot water tank also needs a little maintenance in order to continue functioning at its highest potential. When it comes to high-efficiency models, regular maintenance will not only enhance your home’s hot water supply, but can also help you save more on your energy bills. One of the things you can easily do yourself is flush your hot water tank at least once a year (more, if you live in an area with a lot of mineral deposits in the water, or hard water). Because water is stored in your hot water tank, tiny particles of sediment will settle, creating a thin layer at the bottom of the tank. This can affect the quality of your water, increase energy usage, or even damage the machine by clogging valves and filters. Flushing the tank will remove this sediment build-up, and it’s easier to do than you think!
Step 1: Find the Manual
Before you get started, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have the water heater’s original manual handy. If you can’t find the book, or never got it from previous homeowners, try searching online either on the manufacturer’s website or with a quick Google search—enter the name and model number of your water heater, plus the word “manual”— you’ll be surprised at what you can find!
Step 2: Turn Off the Water Intake
This will be different depending on the age of your house and your hot water tank. You may have a cold-water intake valve with a knob near your heater itself—if so, turn it to closed. In an older house, you may need to go outside and turn off the water main itself.
Step 3: Turn Off the Power
This step will also vary depending on the type of water heater you have (gas vs. electric), so now would be a good time to consult the manual for directions on how to do this. In general, though, for a gas-powered water heater, you will need to turn the knob that controls the water temperature to its lowest or “pilot” setting. For an electric heater, it could be as simple as switching off the breaker that powers the device.
Wait at least a few hours before progressing to the next step, in order to let the water in the tank cool down. Remember, your water heater has to keep gallons of hot water handy for household use; be patient and wait for it to cool off before trying to drain anything.
Step 4: Direct the Outflow
Affix a garden hose or similar tubing to the outflow valve at the bottom of your hot water tank and direct it into a basement drain or a safe spot outside. If you choose to drain directly to the outside, make sure the end of the hose is nowhere near your foundations or gardens.
Step 5: Turn On Your Hot Water Faucets
Go around your home and turn on the hot water faucets in as many rooms as you can—at least 2-3 is recommended. This prevents a vacuum from forming inside your water tank, which can slow down the draining process.
Step 6: Open the Valve
Open the water spigot at the bottom of the heater and let the water drain through the hose. Keep an eye on the water coming out of the hose to see what level of sediment remains in the water. If your water doesn’t drain, your valve could be clogged already; in this case, you’ll want to contact a maintenance specialist to help clear the clog.
Step 7: Turn On the Cold Water
When all the tank water has drained, turn the cold water back on to rinse out the inside of the tank and agitate any remaining sediment at the bottom. When the water draining through the hose runs clear, your flush is complete, and you can turn the cold water off again.
Step 8: Turn It Back On
Close the water spigot and disconnect the hose. Once the spigot is closed, you can turn the cold water back on and allow the tank to fill. Turn on the power and, if necessary, relight the gas pilot light. (Again, check that manual!) Keep your hot water taps open until they start running again, as this will stop air from being trapped in the pipes.
If you’re leasing your hot water tank from Simply Green Home Services, good news! This kind of upkeep is covered under our comprehensive lease-to-own agreement that includes both regular and emergency maintenance calls. Interested in upgrading your water heating system? Contact a Simply Green Home Services expert today to get started!