One of those items that are easiest to overlook is your water heater. It’s tucked away and may function for years without any upkeep. Usually, you only really think about it when something goes wrong.
Water heaters, like other appliances, require routine maintenance to enhance energy efficiency and extend the unit’s lifespan.
A water heater that has been forgotten about may keep hot water running for a few years, but it will progressively raise your electricity costs and finally break completely.
This post will show you how to do this routine maintenance as fast and easily as possible while being comprehensive and without having to totally unplug your water heater.
Though the whole task may take an hour or two, most of this is downtime that allows you to accomplish other things. You most likely have everything you require right at home.
Why You Should Drain Your Water Heater?
The primary reason for draining and flushing a water heater (see also ‘Water Heater Flush – How To Do It Safely & Easily‘) is to avoid or eliminate sediment build-up and filth that can accumulate at the bottom of the tank, reducing efficiency and performance and increasing running expenses.
This is due to the suboptimal circumstances that a tank might be subjected to such as hard water, corrosion, and mineral content, hence constant maintenance is required.
Another cause for draining is the inactivity of the heater – for example, when on vacation – thus if the water heater is exposed to freezing temperatures during the winter, the heater and piping should be fully drained, and the drain valve left open.
The most serious problem that may occur in a home is tank leakage and water damage to the surrounding area, especially if the water heater is situated in the attic, above the living space.
Leaks are typically caused by weak connections, corrosive activity in the tank, or damaged pieces. Draining will decrease or eliminate the risk of leakage and make service and replacement possible without causing more damage.
Signs That You Should Drain Your Water Heater
Lime buildup around your heating components might be the source of your lukewarm water. To get rid of this issue, dump your tank and then add lime descaler or vinegar.
Allow it to remain for 20 to 30 minutes to break up the lime before flushing your tank again. This step may need to be repeated several times if there is a lot of accumulation.
Sludge in your water might be produced by flooding storm drains, clogged sewage lines, or other toxins that seep into your groundwater.
As well as being generally worrying, it may also have a negative impact on the health and cleanliness of your house.
Sludge will almost certainly settle to the bottom of your hot water tank, where it will circulate until you remove it.
Don’t wait until you have a problem to empty your water heater if it has been more than a year. Drain it right away to avoid mechanical issues and to maintain your appliance in good operating order.
How To Drain Your Water Heater
Here is a step-by-step guide that you can follow in order to drain your water heater correctly.
Turn the burner control knob on the pilot if you have a gas hot water heater. Push down a little on the joystick to make it turn.
To validate your choices, look for an indicator on the face below the knob. You’ll be able to realize that the knob is notched.
You’re in the appropriate place if this notch is positioned such that the red pilot button may be pressed down. The principle is the same for contemporary gas water heaters, with a slightly modified knob type.
If you have an electric water tank, flip the breaker at the electrical panel that supplies electricity to it “off.”.
The next thing to do is prepare the hose. You need to let the water tank cool so you don’t have to work with the extremely hot water it now holds.
Turn on the hot water side of your kitchen sink on your way to fetch your hose to expedite this procedure.
Because our burner is turned off, this will assist you get rid of part of that hot water while also replacing it in the tank with cold water. Keep this faucet running since it will help to avoid vacuuming in the lines in a few minutes.
Connect a hose to the drain valve and guide it to the drainage point. This might be a floor drain, sump pump well, a cleanout, or somewhere else that can transport the water to the sewer or street.
Turn off the cold water supply. If you have a valve put in the cold water line just above the tank, you should be able to accomplish this without cutting off the water to the entire home.
If not, find the main water line where it enters the house and turn off the cold water from there. You may want to figure out how to turn off the cold water before you start draining.
Open the tank’s drainage valve. Depending on how long you have to run the hose, you should observe water discharge rather rapidly. If not, there might be a kink in the hose itself.
This is also where having the hot water faucet open comes in handy. After you’ve established that the tank is draining, move on to the next step.
The final thing to do is wait for the tank to drain. It may take a while but make sure that you check on it every now and then until it has fully drained.
The amount of time it takes for all of the water to drain out of the water heater depends on how big the tank is. The average amount of time is between 20 minutes to an hour.
How Often Should You Drain a Water Heater?
As part of the normal, suggested maintenance, the tank should be drained and flushed every six months, or at least once a year.
If this is your first time draining and there is a lot of sediment accumulation in the tank, the drain valve will either not operate or may clog, preventing you from closing it completely, and resulting in some leakage.
Because most water heaters come with low-quality drain valves, if it is difficult to clean or if it breaks, use a hacksaw blade, hammer, and screwdriver to cut and chip off the broken bits and replace it with a ball valve for ease of use and maintenance.
If nothing comes out, the water heater is in perfect working order.
Flushing Your Water Heater
The distinction between emptying and flushing your water heater is determined by the state of your water supply.
When you turn off your water supply, you are merely emptying your water heater. You are flushing it out if you leave the water supply on.
The purpose of draining a water heater tank is to empty the tank.
Flushing, on the other hand, replaces all of the water in the tank with new water, and it is this continual flow of water that washes away the sediment accumulation in your tank.
It’s critical to flush and drain your water heater on a regular basis to assess the health of your tank and the condition of your water as it flows through your home.
To eliminate buildup that has developed over time, you should cleanse your water heater at least once a year. To flush your heater, turn off the heat (gas or electric), connect a hose to the drain valve on your tank, and open it.
Allow the tank to drain for a few minutes before taking frequent samples by draining part of the water from the hose into a bucket. Allow the water to flush if you find flecks of debris in it.
When these frequent samples begin to come out clean, turn off your drain valve and let your tank to refill. Restart your heater and let the tank to warm up.
Other Ways to Improve Your Water Heater Performance
Inspect the pipes that carry hot water from your tank to the rest of your house. Consider covering a considerable length of exposed pipe in foam pipe insulation to maintain heat.
The surroundings around your water heater might have an effect on its performance.
Cooler air temps may be the problem if you are positioned in the basement. Examine for draughts and carry out preventive maintenance, such as caulking or weatherstripping around leaking doors or windows.
Using a water heater insulating blanket or jacket is one of the greatest methods to improve the performance of a water heater and conserve energy.
Because standby heat loss is a primary cause of inefficiency in a water heater, increasing insulation may go a long way toward improving heat retention.
If you have an electric water heater, insulating the tank is quite simple; if you have a gas water heater, you may require expert assistance because it is critical not to cover or misalign vents and pipes.
A dip tube in your tank might be damaged or broken. The tube goes from the top of the tank to the bottom, operating as a vessel to transport cold water to the tank without chilling the current hot water.
A leaking tube reduces the temperature of the water in the tank and is easily changed on most machines.
If none of the previous methods work, the problem might be with the thermostat, pilot light, or heating element if the tank is electric. Call for service to determine whether the water heater should be repaired or replaced.
The key to having a healthy water heater for many years to come lies in the maintenance and repair that you are willing to put into it.
There are many households out there who do not think twice about their water heater until it stops working properly.
However, if you drain and flush it once every six months to a year then you can avoid the headache of a broken water heater and have peace of mind – and it doesn’t even take long!