Draining and flushing your water heater can extend its life by years. You should flush every 6 months to prevent sediment buildup from damaging your tank. If your tank makes a rumbling sound, it usually means there’s sediment buildup boiling in the bottom of the tank. By flushing your hot water heater, you can remove this harmful buildup.
How To Flush A Hot Water Heater
Step 1. Turn off the water to your hot water heater. Do this at the cold water inlet if your water heater has one. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to turn the water off at the main water supply valve.
Step 2. Turn off the power supply to your hot water heater. For gas water heaters, turn off the gas valve. For electric water heaters, simply unplug them from the wall.
Step 3. Hook your garden hose up to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank on your hot water heater. Use your channel lock pliers to secure the connection. Make sure the hose is routing the water to a safe draining location. This will usually be a drain in the floor of your basement. If you don’t have a drain, route the water to the outside of your home. Make sure you don’t drain the water close to your house, or it may pool and cause water damage.
NOTE: Steps 1 through 3 can be performed in any order.
Step 4. Open up a hot water faucet somewhere in the house. This will allow air to enter the tank so the water can drain out.
Step 5. Open the drain valve on the tank of your hot water heater. This will allow the water to drain out of the tank. It should take 10 or 15 minutes to drain. Don’t leave the tank unattended while it drains. The water can be hot, and you don’t want a child or pet to burn themselves on it. You may see chunks of sediment flow out with the water. This is normal. Those chunks are what you’re trying to get out of your tank.
Step 6. Once the tank is empty, turn the water supply to the heater back on to flush it out. Turn the water on for about a minute, then turn it back off and let the tank drain again. You may have to do this a few times. When the water that drains out doesn’t have noticeable amounts of sediment in it, you’re done. You may have to refill and drain your tank two or three times, depending on how much sediment you have in your tank.
Step 7. Shut off the drain valve, disconnect the garden hose, turn the water supply back on, and turn the power supply back on. For a gas hot water heater, you’ll have to re-light the pilot light as well.