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Preventing sediment build-up in your water heater storage tank
Keeping 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.
Flushing your water heater storage tank
What you’ll need:
- A flat blade screwdriver
- A garden hose
- A knee-high stocking
- A rubber band or wire tie
Steps to flushing your tank:
- 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.
- 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.
- Run the other end of the hose to the nearest floor drain, or outside your house.
- Close the shut-off valve at the water inlet line or main water supply.
- Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house to relieve system pressure inside the tank.
- 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.
- 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.
- Drain about three to five gallons of water, which should be enough to capture the needed sediment.
- When you’re done, close the drain valve with your screwdriver and remove the hose.
- 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.
- 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.