Fundamentals of Water Heaters

water heatersYou rely on your water heater pretty much every day, to provide you with hot water, whether you are taking a shower, working in the kitchen, doing laundry, or running the dishwasher. Many of the modern conveniences in our homes work in tandem with the hot water heater, so it is important to take care of it. Imagine life if your water heater goes out? Not a fun day for anyone. One way you can help your water heater to do its job well is to flush it out occasionally. Here is the why and how on the importance of flushing your water heater.

Basic Tips to be Aware of Regarding Your Water Heater

  • Cleanliness – the water coming into your home is not as clean as you might like to imagine. Dirt, sediment, and minerals are all traveling into your home through the water supply, and they too go through the water heater. Magnesium and calcium build up are commonly found in water. While these aren’t bad for you, an excessive amount creates a build up. They can mix with dirt or other particles and create sediment, which settles at the bottom of your water heater. So while minerals aren’t bad, the things that they get stuck to can be.
  • Heating Efficiency – The sediment at the bottom of the tank can act as an insulator. Many water heaters operate by heating the bottom of the tank – the hot water then rises, circulating in cool water and the whole tank heats more evenly. However, too much sediment will block the heat and prevent the water from heating efficiently. So in the end you use more energy to heat the water, raising your energy bill. 
  • When to Flush – most technicians recommend flushing your water heater once a year. If you use a lot of hot water, such as a large family who takes a lot of showers and does a lot of laundry, you may want to consider flushing twice a year instead. More water into the tank means more sediment build up. Some tell-tale signs that it is time to flush are: 
    • Unpredictable, fluctuating temperature when running the shower or sink – scalding or freezing is not the way to relax in the shower
    • Increase in your energy bill, for no obvious reason – more energy used to heat water
    • Inconsistent water pressure – no one wants to wash their hair under a trickle of water
    • White build up around shower and faucet heads – build up can also disrupt water pressure

How to Flush Your Water Heater

How to Flush – it’s not too difficult to flush out your water heater. You will need a hose, a wrench, a water pump, and a large bucket and a smaller bucket. 

  • To begin, shut off the gas or electric to stop your water heater from heating up.
  • Connect the hose securely to the drain valve of the water heater.
  • Place the other end of the hose into the bucket, or into a storm drain (make sure the hose is not going to move and spray water into unwanted areas).
  • Turn the drain valve to open and let the water flow. While the water is flowing, open the temperature and pressure relief valve.
  • After a few minutes, use a separate bucket to collect a sample. Check the bottom for sediment. If you see anything, continue to let the tank drain.
  • Once the sample comes out clear, close the valve and the tank will refill itself.
  • Return the temperature and pressure relief valve to the closed position.
  • Turn the gas or electric back on and your water should heat back up in no time.

Flushing your water tank yourself can be done, but if you do not have a water pump (if your heater is located in the basement), or if you just aren’t comfortable, give Drain Wizard a call today to set up an appointment. We can take care of it so you don’t have to worry about it. Our highly trained team has years of experience and we are there for you for all your plumbing needs, big or small.

Check out this Consumer Reports article to get some other tips and ideas on which water heater is right for you.

Don’t wait until you’re taking a lukewarm shower or have sprung a leak to call us, schedule an appointment today!

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