Flushing a Water Heater

As a Plumber in Upland, I’ve seen my fair share of water heater problems, many of which were premature and could have been delayed had the water heater been flushed out on an annual basis.  Not only will maintaining your water heater ensure that it operates safely, it will also increase the longevity as well.  As I’m sure you’re aware, a properly installed water heater that is annually maintained equals many hot showers and a happy home.


Let’s talk a little bit about the effects of hard water.  When water is heated in your tank, the minerals begin to come out of solution.  The primary result is the formation of mineral sands on the bottom of the tank (or as a seasoned plumber would describe it, ‘jellied mineral scum’).  This is one reason why hot water isn’t desirable for cooking or drinking.  In fact, if your tank was see-through, you might not be too excited about showering in it either!  The build-up on the bottom of your tank causes two major problems.  First, it increases the rate of corrosion in the tank, and secondly, it drastically reduces the efficiency because the heat has to pass through such a thick layer of sediment before it gets to the water.  This, in turn, causes more stress on your tank due to excess heat.

Once the safety check is complete (see article entitled “Water Heater Safety”), it’s time to add a few more years to your water heater by flushing it out every 6 months – 1 year.  Every water heater comes from the factory with a drain valve located near the base of the tank.  Simply connect your garden hose and roll it out to the street (away from plants or driveway areas that might stain).  Open up the valve and flush the sediment out for 3 to 5 minutes.  Unfortunately, a factory drain valve has a rather small drain.  It’s only about a ¼” in diameter, which isn’t enough to flush all the sediment out.  As your Upland plumber, I recommend installing a full ¾” ball valve tank drain, which will ensure a complete flush out every time.  A note of warning: If your tank drain is plastic, it’s better not to touch it.  Because plastic exposed to heat for prolonged periods of time becomes brittle, attempting to open the drain valve could leave you standing in a pool of hot water.  Instead, call your plumber!  At Green Hippo Plumbing we are equipped with the right tools to replace even the most brittle plastic tank drains.

Well that wasn’t too hard, with a little bit of work you can keep your water heater up and running and your family safe and sound.  How’s that for peace of mind! Plumbers do protect the health of the nation, but we like to keep you in hot water too. Most people don’t think about their water heater until they get a cold shower, but if you devote a few precious minutes every year you’ll have the payoff of longevity in the end.

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