Water heaters are one of the hardest working appliances in our homes.  Unlike other appliances that we use every day, water heaters are often forgotten about when it comes to routine maintenance which is a big mistake many homeowners make.  Similar to other systems and appliances throughout your home, water heaters require regular maintenance in order to maintain their efficiency and increase their lifespan.   When you fail to care for a water heater properly you may notice a decrease in the number of gallons of hot water that are produced, increased utility bills, and eventually a physical deterioration of the unit.

One way to maintain your water heater as well as your homes plumbing system is to have an annual inspection performed by a local plumber. The master & licensed plumbers of Horton Plumbing perform full water heater inspections checking the unit for rust, corrosion, leaks, and other problems.  They are also able to test the valves and thermostat, replace the anode rod, and flush the tank if needed.  It is a good idea to flush the hot water heater tank bi-annually, especially when the mineral content in your water is high.  Most homeowners can save themselves a little bit of money by learning how to flush out their own water heaters.

Why Is Draining My Water Heater Important?

The lime and sediment within your water heater tank varies a great deal based on the minerals in your water.  If the water supply to your home has heavy iron, lime, or other sediment flushing out the water heater twice a year as part of your home maintenance plan can help increase the longevity of the tank as well as its overall efficiency.  Without these bi-annual cleaning the minerals and sediment will accumulate leading to calcification and a decrease in the number of gallons of hot water the water heater will produce on an hourly basis. Flushing the tank regularly can help.  Without flushing the tank sediment is allowed to settle creating a buildup which in natural gas water heaters will cause the water to heat unevenly and in electric heaters will cause burn out in the lower heating element.  Clogged drain valves are a common issue in electric and gas water heaters when sediment settles.

When Should I Flush Out My Hot Water Heater? 

The local plumbers of Horton Plumbing recommend that you perform a flush on your water heater twice a year, once as part of your annual plumbing preventative maintenance visit and once again six months later.   If the mineral count of your homes water is high you may want to flush the water tank out more often.

What Should I Know Before Draining My Water Heater? 

Flushing a water heater is not a complicated process but if done incorrectly you could end up with problems down the road.  Before you drain your water heater it is important to read over the owner’s manual.  Gas water heaters must have the gas to the water heater turned off prior to draining it.  Some water heaters must be manually relit where as others rely on a self-ignitor.  All of this information can be found in the original owners manually or online using the make and model number.   

Draining Your Homes Water Heater in 9 Simple Steps

(Be sure to review the specifications for your exact water heater)

Step 1: Turn off the water supply to the water heater

Step 2: Turn the water heater thermostat off, down, or on vacation mode

Step 3: Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank

Step 4: Open the hot water faucets throughout the home

Step 5: Open the tanks drain valve and let the tank drain (keep an eye out for sediment)

Step 6: Once the tank is drained run the cold water throughout the home to rinse out the sediment in the tank

Step 7: Disconnect the hose from the drain valve. Close the drain valve and turn cold water supply back on.

Step 8: Leave the hot water faucets open until water flows out.

Step 9: Reset the thermostat on the water heater, reopen gas valve, and relight pilot

For all of your water heater needs call the experts at Horton Plumbing – 734.455.3332. Our local plumbers offer a wide variety of services including:

  • Installation of Michigan made Bradford White water heaters
  • Water heater fume pipe conversion from 3” to 4”
  • Thermocoupler replacement
  • Pilot light ignition
  • Replacement of anode rod