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Written on: March 30, 2020

Preventing sediment build-up in your water heater storage tank

water heater sediment build-up north pennsylvaniaKeeping your electric or propane water heater functioning properly is important under normal circumstances, but with many of us spending a LOT of time at home these COVID-19 days, its ability to pump out gallons of hot water for your sinks, showers, and appliances is vital.

One of the keys to keeping your storage-type water heater running reliably well is to prevent a build-up of sediment, which forms from minerals in your water supply. When sediment (which looks like sand or small gravel) gathers inside your water heater, it can lead to several problems: for one thing, if it sticks to the heating element, it can form a white “scale” that reduces heat transfer and efficiency. For another, it can clog the tank’s drain valve, which can be a safety hazard.

The good news is that the accumulation of sediment at the bottom of your water heater can be controlled with simple, periodic flushing. Here’s how to flush a water heater to keep it performing the way it was designed to.

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Flushing your water heater storage tank

What you’ll need:

Steps to flushing your tank:

  1. Turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker; if you have a propane gas water heater, you will also need to turn off the gas supply.
  2. Fasten a length of garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater. If you can’t locate the drain value, consult your water heater’s owner’s manual.
  3. Run the other end of the hose to the nearest floor drain, or outside your house. 
  4. Close the shut-off valve at the water inlet line or main water supply. 
  5. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house to relieve system pressure inside the tank. 
  6. Slide a knee-high stocking over the drain end of the garden hose to capture sediment and scale as the water heater drains; use the rubber band or wire tie to hold it in place. If you capture a lot of sediment, you’ll need to flush your water heater more often.
  7. Using your screwdriver, open the drain valve (the other side of the Y connector where you attached the hose). Use caution: the water that will flow into your floor drain or outside your home will be hot enough to scald.
  8. Drain about three to five gallons of water, which should be enough to capture the needed sediment. 
  9. When you’re done, close the drain valve with your screwdriver and remove the hose. 
  10. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the home, then open the shut-off valve at the water inlet line or main water supply. You’ll hear the water heater start to fill. When you have a steady stream of water at the faucet, turn it off. 
  11. Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker. For propane gas water heaters, turn the gas supply back on.

If you need a propane water heater repair or propane water heater replacement in our Montgomery or Bucks County service area, we’re here to help – contact us today for service. And remember: at Clyde S. Walton, your safety and comfort are always our priority. Please see our Covid-19 Service Update Page to learn more about how we are working to keep our crews and your home comfort systems working through this challenging time.

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