Flushing Your Hot Water Heater

There are very few appliances in the home that one can easily take for granted as the water heater is. You can easily get it out of your mind, and it might not even be at sight. The fact that it can do its work for years and not need any maintenance makes it even easier to forget about flushing or draining it. However, you still need to maintain it periodically to maximize its efficiency and lifespan.


If you neglect your water heater for too long, it may continue to work for years, but the energy efficiency will reduce, and this will increase your utility bill. Eventually, it could fail as well. So, it’s important that you flush it even if it’s once a year.


It will serve you more if you get a licensed plumber to service your water heater and other similar home appliances. They’ll be able to carry out a full inspection for leaks and rust, test the valves and thermostat, help prevent corrosion by replacing the anode rod, etc. All of these make it serve you better, but you can do a little bit of flushing the water heater by yourself every few months or once a year. Being able to do this by yourself will save you so much money. So, here are the steps that you will take to do this.


1. Turn Off the Thermostat.

You can find the thermostat around the tank bottom of your gas hot water heater. The first step is for you to turn it off. While there’s a possibility that you can get away with just turning the thermostat to “Pilot,” it’s safer for you to turn it off totally. If you’re using an old model, you might have to relight the pilot light once you turn the water heater off.


If your water heater is electric, you need to go to your home’s breaker box. This is what gives the hot water heater power. So, turn it off.


There are water heaters that have the “vacation” mode, which you can use. The main thing is to ensure that the water heater doesn’t come on after you’ve drained all the water because it might damage it.


2. Turn Off the Supply of Cold Water to The Water Heater.

There are homes where you’ll need to completely shut off the main water supply to the whole house for you to do this, especially if you live in an older home. If you use a water softener somewhere between the water and the main supply, there should be a shut-off valve for the supply.


3. Attach A Garden Hose to The Drain Valve of The Tank

You’ll find the tank’s drain valve somewhere around the heater’s bottom for you to attach a garden hose. Make sure that the second opening of the hose leads outside to somewhere safe or to a drain. This is so that the water you drain doesn’t find its way into your home space.


Alternatively, you can do this without dealing with hot water at all. You just have to turn the water heater off and leave it for a long while, maybe overnight, so that the water cools before you start draining it. Also, you can leave the hot water tap to run down on its own before you start anything.


4. Drain The Tank

Once you open the drain valve of the water tank, the water starts to drain. Ensure that the water isn’t flowing around your home space, and watch the number of sediments coming out of it. If the water isn’t flowing after opening the valve, the sediments may have clogged the valve. Open the release for temperature pressure, so the tank pressure drops, and drain the water in the downstream pipe. Then use a vacuum to remove the blockages from the drain valve so that the water can flow.


5. Turn On the Cold Water Supply.

After draining the tank, turn on the cold water supply again. This will rinse out sediments that are left in the tank. Leave it for a while and let the hose continue to drain while you check when the water from the second end of your hose is clear. To be sure, collect some water from the hose’s other end a few minutes after flushing, then close the water supply. Watch the water for a few minutes if the sediments settle or if it’s tinted, then flush again till it’s clear and lacks sediments.


6. Remove The Hose

After removing the hose, suck out sediments from that valve opening with a vacuum. Then turn on the cold water supply again.


7. Reset Your Water Heater Thermostat

At this point, you’re done flushing the heater, so put it back to the preferred setting. Reopen the gas supply valve for the gas water heater, then go through the manufacturer’s recommended process to relight the pilot. After filling the tank, you’ll get hot water from it in a few minutes. The exact time for heating depends on the heater’s efficiency, size, and if it’s electric or natural gas-powered.



You can preserve the efficiency of your hot water heater by servicing it constantly. While you might not be able to do other things without a plumber, you can flush it by yourself by following the above-mentioned steps.