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Does Draining Your Water Heater Affect Its Performance? What You Need to Know

Water heaters are essential appliances for everyday use, and they require regular maintenance. One maintenance practice is to drain it by directing water out of the storage tank with a hosepipe and then flushing some water back in. You may wonder, “Why would I want to drain my water heater?” Your real concern should be whether this has any positive or negative implications. To address this, let’s understand the whole idea behind it.

Why Is Draining Your Water Heater a Maintenance Practice?

The first thing you need to understand is how a storage-based water heater works. Basically, the storage tank that holds the heated water releases it when a faucet is turned on. As the heated water leaves the reservoir, the tank is automatically refilled with cold water, which is then heated to the desired temperature. This process continues in a cycle as long as there is a power supply.

Typically, minerals naturally found in water, such as calcium, magnesium, and debris, build up and settle on the bottom of the tank. This is called sedimentation. This residue affects the performance of the water heater and costs you money. It can lower the water temperature, which increases energy bills and causes rumbling sounds inside the tank. Draining the water heater prevents this from happening. Water heater maintenance practices are aimed at improving efficiency. For this reason, draining a water heater is categorized as a maintenance act.

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How to Drain a Water Heater

Now that we have established it is vital, let’s look at the steps required to flush the water heater. It’s recommended to contact a certified plumber for help. But, if you are going to do it yourself, check the manufacturer’s manual to ensure you do not miss any steps. 

Here are the tools you will need:

  1. A garden and a regular hose
  2. Gloves
  3. Flat-head screwdriver
  4. Wrench (optional)
  5. Bucket

Step 1: Shut off the cold water supply unit, probably in the main lines, to stop water from getting into the storage tank. 

Step 2: Turn the water heater thermostat off. Alternatively, you can enable the “vacation mode” on the thermostat if your water heater has this feature. This step ensures the heater doesn’t turn on once the water is drained out.  Pro tip: Turn off the water heater a few hours before flushing to let the water cool.

Step 3: Cut off the power supply, depending on the power source. Close the gas supply valve for gas-based or switch off the circuit breaker for an electric-based water heater. 

Step 4: Connect the garden hose to the tank’s drain valve located near the bottom of the heater. Then connect the regular hose to the other end of the garden hose to reach the drain hole. Note: If you did not turn it off a few hours before, the water will be hot, so use caution.

Step 5: Loosen the drain valve on the side of the drain faucet to let the water flow out of the tank. 

Step 6: Open hot the water faucets to increase the rate at which the water will drain. Keep them open until you finish flushing the water. Opening the pressure relief valve should also work. 

Step 7: Give the tank some time to drain out all the water. You should pay attention to the water flowing out at this stage and what type of sediment is in it. If it doesn’t drain, it could be a clogging issue on the valve that can be fixed easily. Open the temperature-pressure release to let off pressure from the tank and drain any water left in hot water pipes downstream from the heater. At this step, you will need to use gloves to avoid burns.

Step 8: After all the water has drained out, turn on the cold water supply to rinse or flush out the remaining deposits. Monitor the end of the hose to note when the water runs clear, signaling that all sediments are gone. Turn off the water supply when done.

Step 9: Remove the hose from the drain faucet and vacuum any remaining sediment to prevent it from being drawn back into the tank and fouling it when it’s shut. Shut the valve. Turn the supply back on.

Step 10: Switch on the power supply and keep the hot water faucets on until water starts coming out, then shut them off. This prevents air from being trapped in the pipes. 

Step 11: Readjust the thermostat to the reading it had to maintain your preferred water temperature. At this stage, you will have successfully drained a water heater like a pro. 

How Often Should You Drain the Water Heater? 

How often you should do this depends on a few factors: usage, water type (hard or soft), and how long since it was last done. Generally, and to be on the safe side, ensure you flush the water heater at least once or twice a year. Once a year is the most recommended, but you should do it every six months if you live in a place with hard water. However, it’s always recommended to check the manufacturer’s information for special instructions on the specific water heater you have. When done right, this maintenance practice will save you money.

Kalka Plumbing Heating & Air – Irvine

Kalka Plumbing Heating & Air, located in Irvine and servicing all of Orange County residents and businesses for plumbing, heating and air conditioning needs.

At Kalka Plumbing, Heating and Air, our goal is to offer the most reasonably priced plumbing and HVAC work in Orange County and the surrounding cities. Because we value our customers, we do everything we can to keep service costs down without skimping on quality. We also pride ourselves on serving our customers for almost 3 decades. Find us online at www.kalkaplumbingheatingandair.com. Or by phone – (949) 458-6600.

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