Water Heater Maintenance

If you own a home, you probably have a water heater.


Unless it is one of the tankless types, your heater consists of a tank with an inlet, an outlet, and some sort of heating method (gas or electric).  These tanks act as sediment bowls for the home.  Incoming water sets in them and the suspended particles settle out.  The number one killer of electric water heaters is this sediment.  It accumulates to the point that it comes in contact with the lower heating element, overheating the element and killing it.


Periodically, the tank should be flushed to eliminate this sediment.  If your tank is older than 10 years old or has rust showing on the base or top and has not been flushed before, you may not want to flush the tank as the sediments may be plugging pin-hole leaks.

Flushing a water heater is a fairly straightforward process:

  1. Connect a hose to the lower drain.
  2. String the hose out to a safe place to drain it. The sediments may not be good for planting beds or grass.
  3. Turn the drain valve on and run until clear.
  4. Shut off the drain valve.
  5. Disconnect and remove the hoes.
  6. Repeat every 6 months.


Some valves require a large screwdriver to open (like the picture above).  Other have a standard knob like the hose bibs on your home.


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