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How To Flush, Drain & Clean Your Water Heater


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No matter how clean the water is from the Grand Rapids municipal supply, it can still contain minerals and other debris in a solution that will settle out inside your water heater tank.

With time, this sediment can fill the bottom portion of your tank and even cover the heating elements. This can reduce your hot water supply, reduce the efficiency of your water heater, damage the heating elements, or even cause the tank to rust through faster.

It’s important to flush sediment out once a year to prevent premature water heater failure and keep it working at its best. You can do this project yourself with a bit of careful preparation.

If you’d prefer to leave this job to a professional, call (616)-453-1099 or contact us online today to schedule water heater maintenance in Grand Rapids, MI.

Tools You’ll Need

It takes just a few basic tools to flush your water heater:

  • A garden hose — the shorter, the better
  • A few 5-gallon buckets
  • A shallow bucket or dishpan to fit under the drain valve
  • A flat screwdriver
  • A pair of channel-lock pliers

Step-By-Step Instructions for Flushing Your Water Heater

Once you have all the tools, you can start the process of flushing and cleaning your water heater:

1. Turn the Water Heater Off

Turn the thermostat to the “off” position or turn off the breakers for electric water heaters. For gas water heaters, turn the thermostat to the “pilot” position. The thermostat should be located near the bottom of the water heater.

Ideally, you should turn off the water heater the night before to give the water a chance to cool down. If you forget this step, you don’t have to wait another day to flush your water heater.

Once the water heater is turned off, open a hot water faucet to drain the hot water. This will prevent scalding when you open the drain valve on the water heater.

2. Turn Off the Cold Water Supply

At the top of the water heater, there should be two pipes, one for the incoming water supply and one for the hot water to exit and go to the rest of the home.

Turn off the valve to the cold water supply so that the tank does not try to refill as it’s drained.

3. Open the Hot Water Faucets

Open all the hot water faucets in your home so that the air can displace the water as it drains from your water heater. This will allow the tank to drain easier by preventing a vacuum from forming.

4. Attach the Garden Hose

At the bottom of the water heater, there will be a drain valve with a garden hose connection. Attach the garden hose and ensure the connection is snug using the pliers. Place the other end of the hose into a 5-gallon bucket.

If you have a working floor drain near the water heater, you can skip the buckets and place the hose into the floor drain to dispose of the water from the tank.

5. Open the Drain Valve

Depending on the water heater, there may be a standard handle to open the drain valve or a slotted post that you can open with a flat screwdriver. Slowly open the valve and be sure the water is draining into your bucket.

6. Drain the Water

Keep filling 5-gallon buckets until the flow of water stops. Empty the buckets in a drain or a safe spot outside.

Once the tank is empty, close the valve, remove the hose, and place a short bucket or dishpan under the drain valve. Open the valve to ensure all the water and sediment have been removed, then close it again, ensuring it’s tight.

7. Turn On the Cold Water Supply

Turn on the cold water valve to refill the water heater tank. The hot water faucets will still be open.

Once the faucets start to run, shut them off. This will allow any air in the system to bleed out. Make sure there are no leaks from the drain or pressure relief valve at the top of the water heater tank.

8. Turn On the Water Heater

Once the tank is full, turn the thermostat on the water heater back to your normal setting or turn the breakers back on. Restoring power before the tank is full can damage the heating elements of an electric water heater.

After the water heater has had a chance to heat back up, test your hot water to ensure everything is working properly.

When To Call a Plumber To Flush Your Water Heater

Draining and flushing a water heater does not always go as planned. Common issues include:

  • The drain valve won’t open.
  • You cannot find the cold water valve.
  • You discover a leak.

If you have any of these issues or are not comfortable doing the maintenance yourself, talk to our team at Grapids Home Services.

Choose Grapids for Water Heater Maintenance

The Grapids team offers professional water heater maintenance, repairs, installations, and more throughout the Grand Rapids area. We are happy to flush, drain, and clean your water heater, and we service all brands and models, including tankless water heaters.

Our company has over 20 years of service in the Grand Rapids area, and we feature:

  • Competitive pricing
  • Convenient appointments for nearly any schedule
  • A 100% satisfaction guarantee on all our services

Call (616)-453-1099 today or contact us online to schedule water heater maintenance or repairs anywhere in Grand Rapids, MI, or the surrounding areas.

We Are Here for You! Contact Us Today.

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