Hot water tanks

How to Flush a Hot Water Heater

Flushing out your hot water heater is a great way to keep your home in good shape. Build-up impacts your water’s clarity, smell, and taste so by clearing out solids, sand, silt, and other sediment, you prevent damage to plumbing and keep your water clean.

A bi-yearly flush keeps your water heater working efficiently for a greater life span and saves you money in the process– take it from the experts here at CJ Plumbing & Heating. Stay on top of your plumbing maintenance with our easy-to-follow DIY guide on properly draining a water heater.

What Is the Build-Up Made Of, You Ask?

The cause of all this trouble is a mix of naturally occurring material called sediment. This gloppy mix of deposits and minerals is full of calcium and magnesium, hardening with time and damaging your plumbing systems and appliances.

a yellow gloved hand removes sediment from a water tank

A good flush will take care of these, but remember: if you live in a hard-water area, you’ll have to deal with hard deposits called lime scales. Pro tip: Flush more often (between 3-4 times a year) in order to maintain the health and longevity of your water heater.

Note: This project will take a few hours, so make sure everyone in your household is prepared before you get started. That means no hot water for showers, dishwashing, or doing laundry.

1. Turn Off the Water Heater

Locate your water heater – they tend to be in the garage, basement, crawlspace, attic, or closet. If you live in an older house or building, you may need to turn off the water at the main supply line. Once located, switch off the power. Some have a “vacation” mode you can switch on easily.

It’s important to ensure the water heater doesn’t turn on after draining the water since this can cause damage to the tank. Take an extra step of precaution and close the gas supply valve, too.

2. Let Tank Water Cool

After you’ve shut off the heater, let the water in your tank cool for a couple hours before getting started. Don’t skip this step! Avoid getting burned or harming your surrounding plants and wildlife.

3. Drain Prep

Find the hot water heater tank’s drain valve and connect a garden hose to the valve. Have the other end of the hose in a safe area outside your home, far from your crawl spaces and garden, etc. 

Double- check that the hose is securely attached. Otherwise, you may find yourself needing to repair a water leak down the line. You can also use a large strainer to catch the sediment during draining for proper garbage disposal.

4. Turn Off the Cold Water Valve

Remember that in order to fully drain the water tank, you’ll need to keep water from coming in. Letting it run will also run up your water bill, so make sure to double-check the valve is off.

5. Turn on Hot Water Faucets in Your Home

Open hot water faucets around your home to make sure vacuums don’t form in your pipes. Doing this will help drain the water from the tank faster, speeding up the process.

6. Drain the Tank

Using the correct screwdriver, slowly turn the valve, watching for any leaks in the hose.  Allow enough time for the tank to drain completely & turn the drain valve off.

7. Set the Tank Back Up

Remove the hose, turn the cold water valve back on and power the water heater back up.

Check your faucets to make sure the water has returned to a normal flow before turning them back off (your hot water should be back within 30 minutes.) And you’re done!

We hope this guide has been helpful & are excited to share more tips with you in our next blog.

Keep Your Water Heater Running Smoothly with CJ Plumbing & Heating

CJ Plumbing & Heating has been proudly serving the Northern Chicago area for over 30 years. We are A+ BBB accredited, COVID-19 compliant, and voted Best Plumbers in Evanston 2021 by Expertise.

Whether it’s a residence, hotel, university, restaurant, or commercial space, our licensed and insured Chicago plumbers have the state-of-the-art technology and expertise to handle all of your water heater needs – standard, hot, or tankless.

Remove any guesswork from your next plumbing scare. 

Call (847) 491-9828 or request a free quote online today!