How to flush hot water heater properly and what are the benefits. Why is flushing important for your heater? Step-by-step instructions with a video. See how to use vinegar and chlorine to clean and remove deposits.
Low water pressure, flow, efficiency, and performance, or even worse, shorter heater life, occur due to the sediment build-up inside the heater's tank. The lime-scale buildup is the number one reason why the manufacturers and experts recommend flushing and that it should be done regularly - at least once a year.
Flushing a water heater is an easy DIY project that doesn't require any special skills or tools.
You don't have to be an electrician or gas technician to flush the hot water heater. Just use the recommended tools, follow the guide and be careful when dealing with the hot water due to scalding.
Flushing a water heater should be done as recommended by the manufacturers. Sediment deposits at the bottom of the heater's tank are the problem as they will affect the regular operation and increase the heating costs.
This is especially important for gas heaters, as deposits can form between the heat source (combustion chamber and gas burner) and water, creating something like insulation, so less heat is transferred to the water.
Also, sediments can create hot spots that can damage the tank and cause the elements to fail or leak. You might even see the residues coming out of the tap.
Electric units will have deposits on the heating elements, which will reduce the heat transfer, produce a popping or rumbling sound, and eventually die.
If you haven’t flushed a tank for a long time and planning to drain water using the drain valve, you might get a surprise.
Once you open the drain valve, the debris could clog the valve and prevent it from closing. This will force you to replace the element as it would be tough to perform maintenance and service. If the plastic valve was used, you might have to break it into pieces to remove it. Replace it with the durable brass-type valve.
Most of the newer models, either from Rheem, AO Smith, or Bradford White manufacturers, utilize self-cleaning systems to reduce the risk of the buildup, but still, regular flushing is recommended.
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Sometimes it is needed to flush the hot water heater several times. You will see white particles coming out through the drain valve or even brown water during the flushing... this is normal. Flush the hot water heater often, at least once or twice a year, or based on the incoming water quality.
If the water heater is heavily covered with the deposits while flushing, the drain valve might get clogged and not close fully, leading to leaks. This might require you to replace the element, especially if it is made of plastic. The new brass drain valve is stronger and can last longer.
Flushing a water heater with chlorine is the procedure we use to eliminate bacteria found in water heating systems. What indicates that there are bacteria, is the rotten egg odor and discolored water.
Here is the procedure for chlorination:
If you live in the area where water is very hard you might have to flush it more often. Installing a water softener is a good idea to prevent mineral buildup. At the same time, a deliming solution, such as phosphoric acid at a food-grade level, will dissolve the sediments so they can be flushed away from the heater.
You can also flush the tank if hot water is discolored or contains chlorine odor after the chlorination procedure, which was used to eliminate various bacteria accumulated in the heater.
As it can be seen, water heater flushing is not a big deal, and it is beneficial. This is a DIY project and doesn't require any special skills. So don't worry, it doesn't have any downsides, just the benefits.