Flushing the hot water heater is something you should do yearly to get rid of mineral buildup. By flushing out the unit prolongs the life of your tank and reduces heat-related callbacks.
Before starting make sure that there isn’t anyone using any hot water in the building, then drain all of the water from the tank using a hose connected to an outside faucet.
Steps to flush an electric hot water :
Open up the TPR valve(temperature and pressure relief)
This is found on top of the housing & let some steam escape. This will relieve any excess pressure that may have built up during use.
Then open drain plug at bottom of heater, so cooled liquid can be released. Let it drain completely. Refill with clean water.
Close temperature and pressure relief valve.
Open cold water inlet at bottom of the tank, then open hot water outlet to get the air out of the lines. Close both valves.
Turn on the cold water inlet, This will allow new incoming water to flow through the heater. Open diverter valve which is located on top of the unit, so you can adjust temperature & open drain plug so heated water can exit the tank. Let it heat up for 20 minutes or so before turning off the diverter valve & draining again if needed.
Close drain plug & open cold water inlet again to remove air from the system.
Turn up a hot water outlet which will leave you with a completely flushed unit.
If your heater is old there may be some sediment build-up inside the tank. You may need to clean it more frequently or use a soft brush to loosen things up.
Flushing the water heater once a year is the best way to get rid of all of that hard water which leaves mineral spots everywhere. Your glass shower doors would clean themselves, if only they were electric. 🙂
Don’t forget this little tip for future reference, also tell others who own/manage an apartment building, since your tenants will love you for this! Especially on those cold winter mornings when it takes forever for the water to get hot.
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Why do I need to flush my water heater?
Hard water is caused by too many dissolved minerals in the water. When you replace your water heater, you are replacing those old sediments along with the tank.
Over time more minerals build up inside of your heater, which can reduce efficiency & shorten the lifespan of the heating element or burner assembly.
If you continue to use hard water, it will only get worse. Eventually leaving calcium deposits on fixtures and tiles.
A new water heater can be expensive so flushing out an existing one is a better option than spending hundreds of dollars on something new when there’s nothing wrong with your current unit besides some mineral buildup. You’d be surprised at how good it works after being flushed!
An electric hot water heater heats the cold water flowing through it until it becomes hot.
The cold water enters the bottom of your unit and flows upwards while the hot water exits at the top. This is how it gets its name, by heating “water” from a cold state to a hot one.
How to Tell if Your Water Heater Has Sediment Build-Up
Sediment build-up occurs when hard water is heated inside your hot water heating tank. The minerals found in the groundwater remain behind as the water heater heats up and changes state.
This can be seen if you look at the bottom of your heater where the cold water enters, also known as “the sediment trap”.
Sediment build-up will look like a thick slimy film or mud residue on the walls of this small chamber, which prevents new incoming cold water from being heated properly.
If this is not resolved it can cause more problems such as corrosion on heating elements & burner assembly, faulty temperature, and pressure relief valves wasted energy.
On older units, it could even cut off the gas supply to pilot light due to clogged jets.
Why is it important to flush the hot water heater?
If you have a glass shower door, then you have noticed that they don’t seem to clean themselves very well.
The mineral buildup from hard water leaves white spots on everything, including your car.
When soft water evaporates, all minerals remain behind leaving things spotty and dull looking.
The sediment inside of the tank heats up over time which causes minerals to release and mix with water turning it into a sludge-like substance.
Eventually building up until there’s no more room left and the tank needs to be drained and flushed out. This can happen before or after your new unit is installed but it must be done for things to run smoothly after replacement.
Q: What do I need to flush my water heater?
You will want a garden hose that is long enough to reach from the closest cold water source, most likely the exterior faucet on your house near the water meter, all the way up to where you would like to drain it. Make sure you have a few buckets available and don’t forget about safety goggles in case of splashback!
Q: Is there any special paperwork or permits needed for flushing?
No not at all. Any licensed plumber can come out and drain your unit for a reasonable price but if you’re doing it yourself then all you need is a wrench which most people already own.
If you want to hire a plumber to do the work for you they can go onto your property and drain it as long as you give them written permission beforehand.
Q: How much does flushing cost?
On average it should be anywhere from $50-150 but local rates may apply so check with your local contractor before making an appointment. However, Pricing will vary depending on how difficult it is to reach the water heater and what type of unit you have.
Q: What happens if I don’t flush my water heater?
If you choose not to flush your current water heater then expect things such as discolored (rusty) sinks, tubs, toilets, and other fixtures throughout your house along with high heating bills caused by increased energy consumption.
Flushing your water heater is the best thing to do if you want to start using your glass shower doors again.
Q: Is there any reason I shouldn’t flush my water heater?
Yes, having no money or time is the only thing that should keep you from flushing your current setup. It will cost anywhere between $50-150 but it’s well worth the price knowing how much it saves in the long run.
If you have neither then at least consider getting quotes before deciding since everything can add up quickly over time. Flushing your tank is like an investment into updating your showering experience & lowering utility bills!
There isn’t anything bad about doing this which is why it’s recommended to get done at least every 3-5 years depending on the age of your current unit.