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Flush Your Hot Water Heater to Improve Efficiency & Prolong its Life

Electrical Repair and Service Greenville SC

Cooler weather is approaching and that means its time to make sure your home's plumbing is in good shape for the colder winter months that will soon be here. An ounce of prevention can go a long way towards preventing expensive repairs or unnecessary damage to your home's plumbing systems. This time of year is also a good time for an annual maintenance procedure that will help your hot water heater run more efficiently as well as prolong its life, saving you money in the long run.

Flush Your Hot Water Heater

Many homeowners don't realize that water and mineral sediments continually pool at the bottom of your gas hot water heater. This leads to rust and corrosion that can eventually eat through the bottom of your water heater, which is made of steel and prone to rust. By properly flushing your hot water heater at least once per year, you can remove corrosive minerals, sediments and water that has stagnated at the bottom of your water heater. 

How to Flush Your Hot Water Heater

1. Turn the Knob on Your Hot Water Heater’s Thermostat to “Off”

The thermostat on a gas hot water heater is typically found near the bottom of the tank. You can set your thermostat to “Pilot” or if you want to be extra safe just turn it off completely. If you turn your hot water heater off, and you have an older model, you will have to re-light your pilot light.

If you have an electric hot water heater, you will need to find your home’s electrical breaker box and turn off the switch that powers your hot water heater.

2. Turn Off the Gas to Hot Water Heater

If you have a gas hot water heater, find the gas pipe leading to your thermostat and pilot light and turn the valve to the OFF position. If you decide to just turn your thermostat to “pilot” you won’t need to do this step.

3. Turn Off the Cold Water Supply to Hot Water Heater

Turn OFF the cold water valve which is usually near the top of your hot water heater.

4. Turn on the Hot Water in a Sink or Tub

Leave these on during the entire flushing process. This will help prevent a vacuum from forming in the lines while you’re draining the hot water tank.

5. Open the Pressure Relief Valve

While this isn’t a necessary step, it can help water flow more easily while draining and it allows you to test your pressure relief valve. Make sure you have a bucket beneath the drainage pipe on your pressure relief valve before opening or water will rush out. Be careful. This water will likely be very hot. If water doesn’t come out, you’ve got a faulty pressure relief valve and it will need replacing. After you’ve opened the pressure relief valve, let the water in your hot water tank cool.

6. Connect Garden Hose to Drainage Spigot 

Before you turn on the spigot, make sure the other end of the hose leads outside or at least into a bucket. If your hot water heater is in the basement, you may need to get a portable pump in order to pump water out of the basement and to the ground floor.

7. Turn on Spigot and Drain

Drain your tank until the water runs clear and no longer has sediment. If your tank has a lot of sediment, you may need to drain it completely. The water when you first start draining is probably going to be a bit brown and there may be a lot of sediment at the bottom of the bowl.

8. Flush

To flush your hot water tank, simply turn on the cold water spigot leading into your hot water tank. Let it run for a few minutes until the water exiting your hose runs clear. This may take a bit. While the water might be running clear and isn’t brown, you may still have some sediment. Continue flushing until you have very little or no sediment in your water. Turn off the cold water spigot leading into your hot water tank.

Finishing the Job
Once you’re satisfied with the clarity of your water, it’s time to put things back to the way they were.


If your hot water heater isn't operating as optimally as you think it should, or if it has visible leaks, corrosion or other signs of wear or damage, you may be in need of a hot water heater replacement. Call Staten Plumbing today at (864) 520-1138 for Priority Plumbing Service and we can service or replace your hot water heater with great prices and quick, professional service.