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Understanding the Importance of Flushing Sediment from Your Water Heater

Understanding the Importance of Flushing Sediment from Your Water Heater

In many homes, the water heater is the most frequently replaced major appliance. Average service life can be up to 12 years — or as few as five or six. Two main factors influence the life expectancy of water heaters:

  • The hardness (mineral content) of the local water supply.

  • Annual maintenance including flushing the tank.

The hardness of water in the Tulsa/Broken Arrow area varies from “moderately hard” to “hard” on the national water hardness scale. While this mineral content is harmless to humans, it can shorten the life of water heaters and raise monthly costs substantially.Heated inside the water heater, dissolved minerals precipitate and sink to the bottom of the tank, forming an increasing layer of sediment. Sediment accumulation absorbs heat from the burner, causing the burner to run longer cycles. Energy consumption spikes and monthly bills increase. In addition, sediment in the tank and extended burner cycles degrade the integrity of the tank and liner, triggering leakage that requires early heater replacement.

Flushing the tank yearly removes sediment while it still can be removed—before it becomes rock hard. The process is doable for most people, or a local plumbing professional can handle it while also verifying safe water temperature, testing the pressure relief valve and looking for signs of leakage. Here's how flushing the tank can be done:

  • Turn off the heater at the gas valve and shut the cold water inlet valve on top of the tank.

  • Connect one end of a garden hose to the tank drain valve and place the other end outside in the yard.

  • Open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain. Holding open the spring-loaded pressure relief valve also admits air into the tank and expedites draining.

  • After the tank is empty, turn the cold water valve on and off rapidly several times to flush out remaining sediment.

  • Close the drain valve and remove the hose.

  • Open the cold water inlet valve and follow manufacturer’s procedures to re-light the heater.

Ask the professionals at Air Assurance about annual service to extend the life of the water heater and ensure optimum efficiency.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Tulsa and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). Credit/Copyright Attribution: “Minerva Studio/Shutterstock”