Appliances such as water heaters require regular maintenance to work efficiently. One of the essential maintenance steps is to flush the water heater at least once a year for its longevity. 

The accumulation of sediment and minerals can cause disruptions in the working of the water heater and may even cause damage or decrease performance. Regular flushing through DIY or electric water heater services helps maintain the efficiency of the water heater. 

So, here is your ultimate guide to explain the ten important indications that it is time to flush your water heater or hot water tank.

  1. Decreased Hot Water Output

A clear sign that you need to flush the tank is when you get less hot water from your tank for some time. Sediments piled up at the tank bottom cause insulation and affect the heating element. It affects the efficiency of the water heater. 

So, after you flush the tank, remove the sediments and check if the heater works properly like before.

  1. Longer Heating Times

When it takes longer for your water heater to heat the water, it is a sign that sediment buildup is affecting its performance. Flushing the tank can help your heater heat water more quickly and efficiently, reducing wait times for hot water in your home.

  1. Loud or Unusual Noises

If your water heater makes popping, crackling, or gurgling noises, this is often due to sediment or mineral buildup at the bottom of the tank. As sediment heats and cools, it can create these noises. Flushing the tank helps to eliminate these obstructions and reduce or eliminate the noise.

You can book electric water heater services if the sound persists.

  1. Rusty or Discolored Water

If your hot water is discolored or has a metallic taste, it could indicate corrosion inside the tank. Over time, the interior of the tank can rust, leading to water discoloration. Flushing the tank helps to remove sediment and rust, improving the water quality and taste.

  1. Rotten Egg Odor

Bacterial growth in water, reacting with the sediment, produces foul-smell in water. This odor, described as a “rotten egg” smell, emanates from your hot water taps. Flushing the tank can help eliminate the odor by removing the sediment, a breeding ground for these bacteria.

  1. Leaking Pressure Relief Valve

The pressure relief valve is a safety device on your water heater that releases excess pressure to prevent tank damage. If this valve is constantly dripping or leaking, it may indicate a significant pressure buildup in the tank due to sediment or mineral accumulation. Flushing the tank can alleviate this pressure and resolve the issue. If you are not confident in resolving the issue, you may call an expert for emergency electric water heater repair.

  1. Inconsistent Water Temperature

If you experience fluctuations in water temperature, where the water suddenly becomes too hot or too cold during usage, it means sediment is interfering with the thermostat’s accuracy. Flushing the tank is an important step in electric water heater maintenance, to provide consistent water temperature, ensuring comfort and safety.

  1. Heating Element or Burner Failure

In electric water heaters, the heating elements can fail due to sediment buildup, causing the unit to struggle to heat the water adequately. In a gas water heater, the burner can become less efficient due to sediment accumulation. Flushing the tank can prevent these components from malfunctioning and extend their lifespan. 

  1. Reduced Efficiency

Improper water heater installation also affects efficiency, which results in higher energy bills. As sediment accumulates in the tank, it acts as an insulating barrier, reducing the efficiency of the heating element or burner. Flushing the tank can restore the unit’s efficiency, allowing it to heat water with less energy consumption.

  1. Sediment Visible in Tank Drainage

Sediment in the heated water supply indicates significant buildup in the tank that should be removed. Even while draining, if you observe debris or sediment in a small amount of water then, you need to flush the tank. 

Here is How to Flush your Water Heater

Before You Begin:

  • Safety First: Turn off the power supply to an electric water heater by switching off the circuit breaker. For gas water heaters, turn off the gas supply and pilot light.
  • Gather Necessary Tools: You will need a garden hose, a screwdriver or pliers, a bucket or a floor drain, and a flathead screwdriver for the drain valve.

DIYs are not everyone’s cup of tea. In case you need assistance, call one of the local electric water heater experts.

Flushing your water heater is a simple yet essential maintenance task that enhances efficiency and lifespan. Here is a quick guide on how to flush water heater:

  • Turn Off the Heater:

Ensure the water heater is turned off to avoid any accidents. For electric heaters, switch off the circuit breaker; for gas heaters, set the thermostat to the pilot position.

  • Turn Off the Water Supply:

Shut off the cold water supply valve, located near the top of the water heater to stop incoming water.

  • Attach a Hose:

Connect a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater. Place the other end of the hose in a safe drainage area or attach it to a floor drain.

  • Open the Pressure Relief Valve:

Open the pressure relief valve at the top of the heater to allow air into the tank, facilitating a smoother flow during flushing.

  • Open the Drain Valve:

Open the drain valve at the bottom of the heater, letting water flow through the hose. Be cautious, as the water may be hot.

  • Flush the Tank:

Allow the water to run until it clears, indicating that sediment has been flushed out. You may need to repeat this process several times.

  • Close the Drain Valve and Pressure Relief Valve:

Close the drain valve and pressure relief valve once the flushing is complete.

  • Refill and Turn On:

Turn on the water supply and allow the tank to refill. Once filled, turn the heater back on.

Regularly flushing your water heater, ideally, once a year, helps maintain its efficiency and ensures clean, hot water delivery throughout your home.

Bottom Line 

Flushing your water heater at least once a year is advisable. It can be done together with your regular annual plumbing inspection, which will help you figure out other issues, if any. You should notice the water supply in your area as hard water causes rapid building up of sediment, thus interrupting the effectiveness of the heater. Flushing the tank not only improves the efficiency and performance of your unit but also extends its lifespan. Efficiently working appliances save you money on energy bills and costly electric water heater repairs in the long run.