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5 Steps on How to Clean A Water Heater

Why Should You Clean Your Water Heater

Homeowners know an important part of home maintenance is cleaning your hot water heater, especially when preparing it for winter. Doing so can increase the lifespan of your hot water tank and will help to ensure you have a working hot water faucet with good water pressure that performs consistently well. This is important for both gas water heaters and electric water heaters. If calcium and sediment buildup starts to accumulate inside your water heater tank, it could disrupt water flow and could cause your water heater to perform poorly. Bacteria could start to thrive in the slush coating the tank’s bottom. If your area is known for hard water, you may have to do this maintenance more often.


Sometimes, this sediment could cause the water at the bottom of the water heater to overheat. The water could become steam, and if the pressure relief valve fails, it can cause a small explosion that shoots off some of the sediment coat and will be loud. This can lead to a crack in the top of the tank, the bottom of the tank, or straight down the middle, where the water runs out, which, hopefully, as the tank drains, it will go to your floor drain. Do not let it get to this point. 


Cleaning out your water heater at least once a year will provide your home with the most efficient and cost-effective system. Other ways to increase the efficiency even further is to install water heater insulation on your system or have your system inspected by a certified plumber about once a year.


5 Steps to DIY Clean Out Your Water Heater

You may keep your water heater in good shape with these some of these DIY steps:

Step 1: Turn Off The Power 

First, turn off the water temperature on the water heater’s thermostat. Then you will want to shut down the power or turn off the gas for the water heater. If you have an electric heater, stopping the power at the circuit breaker or breaker box is one way to ensure no electricity goes to the hot water heater. For those with a gas water heater, locate the gas line connected to your system and turn it off. 


Step 2: Turn off the water supply valve 

Shut off the cold water supply to the tank by shutting off the cold water valve. It is essential not to leave this water supply valve open during the clean-out process.


Step 3: Located and Remove the Pipe Stub Connecting the Cold-Water port

Unscrew the cold-water supply line and remove the pipe stub connecting to the cold-water port. The cold-water supply line is located at the top of a water heater.


Step 4: Begin the Water Heater Flush Process

Then you can take a cleaner with a citric-acid base, such as Mag-Erad, and pour this down the hole. This cleaner will take eight hours to eat away at the buildup in the tank. After this point, you can attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater; the other end of the hose should be outside. Then open the drain valve and connect the cold-water supply to the heater again. You can then turn the cold water back on. Watch the water coming out of the hose; it will be murky for a while. Once the water coming out is clean, you can shut the drain valve and detach the end of the hose.


Step 5: Finishing Things Up To Turn Back On

Before you turn the heater back on, open the faucet that is the farthest away from the heater. Wait until the water comes from the faucet, then turn it off. Do the same to all the faucets and spigots around your house. This is to get rid of air pockets. After that, you can turn your water heater on again, relight the pilot light, set your thermostat, and ensure the heating element is active. Now it should be ready to work overtime in the cold months ahead.


How Often To Clean Water Heaters

Determining how often it is recommended to clean out your water heater depends on the type of heater, the model, and the environment you are in.

Gas, Electric, and Tankless water heaters all perform differently and have their own best practices in cleaning them out. If possible, it’s best to research the kind of model your water heater is and determine what the manufacturer recommends. 


Your environment also plays a factor in figuring out how often to have a water heater flush. If you live in an area that naturally has many minerals and sediments in the water, your water heater will build up faster, resulting in more frequent cleaning.

It’s recommended for most to have your water heater cleaned out every one to three years.


Signs It’s Time to Clean Your Water Heater

Most homeowners may not know when they’ve had their most recent water heater flush, but fortunately, a water heater system will show signs that it’s time to drain your water heater. The four most common signs include:

  1. Your water is not as hot as it should be.
    • When your water is not hot as it should be, that’s a big indicator that there is an issue. Although if you are lacking hot water, the issue could also mean your system needs a new water heater dip tube. It’s best to know what the right solution is for the problem before guessing.
  2. You’ve noticed sludge in your water.
    • Flooded stormwater systems, sewer lines that are backing up, or pipes that are not entirely sealed can expose sludge into your water tank, where it will settle at the bottom. Sludge in your system can have an effect on the health and sanitation of your home.
  3. You experience rusty or discolored tap water.
    • Brown, yellow, or any color other than clear water flowing from your tap means your system needs a water heater flush.
  4. Your water heater is noticeably leaking.
    • If there are any wet or damp areas surrounding your water heater, it almost always indicates a leak. Leaks can also seep into nearby areas and cause odors, mildew, and mold growth.


Keeping a watchful eye out for these signs will indicate you are due for a water heater flush. Take care of your system beforehand so you don’t have to pay for it when the time comes.


If you experience any problems with your water heater, water softener, or sump pump. Our experienced plumbers can help with options, including replacing your water heater or even moving to a tankless water heater. If you have a clog or blockage in any drain or need help with a slow-draining sink or tub, do not hesitate to call A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc., a family-owned business with more than 45 years of serving the Kansas City Metro. 


The best way to ensure a healthy water heater system is to have it serviced once every couple of years by a licensed professional plumber. A-1 Sewer & Septic Service plumbers are trained to complete inspections on all water heaters. These types of inspections include examining the system for any signs of rust, leaks, or other common water heater issues. They will test the thermostat and valves to ensure they are working correctly. If the anode rod has corrosion, they can replace it on the spot, and then they will perform a water heater flush to ensure your system is operating efficiently.


Our team of experienced plumbing technicians can provide you with a no-obligation quote, and if you have a plumbing issue in the evening or on the weekend, our expert services will cost you nothing extra. Save trips to the hardware store and have the peace of mind that a professional plumber brings when the job is done right. Learn how we may be able to help you solve your plumbing problems when you contact a Kansas City plumber today!