You depend on your home's water heater to work as efficiently as possible and provide hot water to your home. It is important to maintain your water heater, which will help save you money on energy costs and prolong the life of your tank. Here are information and instructions to help you successfully drain your home's water heater tank.
Why You Should Drain Your Tank
One reason your home's water heater can become less efficient is from the tiny amounts of sediment and minerals from your home's water that collect in the bottom of the tank. As this sediment builds up, over time it creates a thick layer of sand on the bottom of the tank. This can require the heater to work harder to heat the water in the tank. The reason for this is that the heat created by the heating elements at the bottom of an electric heater or the pilot light under the tank of a gas-powered water heater need to penetrate through the layer of silt to heat the water sitting above it.
Sediment built up in your water heater tank can cause the heat source to become overworked and wear out sooner, and it can also cause the inside of the tank to corrode more quickly. Therefore, it is important to flush out your water heater tank every year to remove the collection of sediment. Be sure to wear protective work gloves while you do this to prevent burns from occurring during this flush.
Preparing the Night Before
The night before you plan to flush out the tank, turn off the power to your water heater. You can do this by either switching the power breaker off to the unit for an electrical heater or turning the gas supply off on a gas water heater. You can find the gas shut-off valve near your water heater's thermostat and the flexible metal gas line running to the heater. Shutting off the power will allow time for the water to cool off and prevent the heater from warming water unnecessarily all night.
Next, turn off the cold water supply valve, which is also at the top of the water heater. The cold water supply valve should be round-shaped, similar to the valve on your outdoor faucet that you attach a garden hose onto.
Draining the Tank
The next morning, attach a garden hose to the drain on the bottom of the tank and place the other end of the hose through a door or window to the outside. Next, open the pressure-relief valve on the top of the tank and open the bottom drain valve where you have connected the garden hose. The pressure-relief valve usually does not look the same as the cold water supply valve. Instead, this valve is a metal lever and is usually labeled with a tag.
Draining all the water and sediment from your tank can take up to 30 minutes, depending on how much sediment is in the bottom. It can be helpful to turn on the cold water supply valve for a minute while you are draining the tank to help dislodge sediment settled at the bottom of the tank. As you dislodge sediment in this manner, you will see the water draining from the hose turn dirty-looking. Continue rinsing and draining the tank until clear water continually flows from the hose.
Now you can close the pressure-relief valve, turn on the cold water supply (if it isn't already on), and turn on the heater's power supply. Disconnect the garden hose from the tank's bottom drain valve. Turn on a hot water faucet in your home to let out any air bubbles that may be in your home's hot water lines. Allow several hours' time for the water heater to heat its new supply of water before running any appliances requiring hot water, such as a dish washer or clothes washer.
Your water heater tank is now clean of sediment and will work more efficiently. Mark your calendar for the same time next year to repeat this draining process. If your water heater tank had a buildup of sediment from years of collection, when you flush the tank next year it will be an easier process to wash out the sediment, as there will be less accumulation.
If you would rather have a professional do this job for you, contact a service like Christian Heating & Air Conditioning, Inc.