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Flushing a Water Heater: What Happens If You Don’t Flush?

Drain Water Heater

Are your hot showers getting shorter and less steamy? The odds are your water heater is losing some of its potency. Thankfully, you may be able to restore your water heater to its former glory by performing a quick drain and flush.

Homeowners often think it is not necessary to flush a water heater, but not doing so can lead to expensive water heater repairs. Read on to learn how to perform a DIY drain and flush.

Why Should You Perform a Drain and Flush?

Minerals such as calcium and magnesium tend to accumulate and build up over your water heater walls. This is especially the case if your groundwater is hard. Over time, the mineral build-up can reduce the heating efficiency of your water heater.

Draining and flushing at least once a year will help extend the longevity of your water heater and avoid the costs of having a new water heater installed.

What Happens If You Do Not Flush Your Water Heater?

Lukewarm Water from Faucets: Do your hot water faucets give you lukewarm water? It is likely that a layer of sediment on the bottom of your water heater is the culprit. Sediments tend to form an insulating layer that makes it hard for your heater to heat water uniformly.

This can lead to the following:

Spike in Energy Bills: Your water heater will struggle to heat water and hence, will run longer to do its job. This means while your water heater tries to heat your water, your energy bills can increase quickly.

Leak in Water Heater: When your water heater is constantly running, the tank could overheat. This can lead to cracks in the protective lining of your heater, which can translate to costly water heater repair. Reach out to our Asheville water heater repair company to help you.

Water Damage: Accumulation of mineral build-up can erode the insides of your water heater. If left unattended, your water heater could burst and flood your home. Water heater failures can cost you thousands in water damage and repair work.

How Often Should You Drain Your Water Heater?

Water heaters, unlike most other appliances, are typically low-maintenance units. However, it is a good practice to drain your water heater regularly to ensure it keeps running efficiently and optimally. According to experts, you should drain your water heater at least once every year. If you live in an area that has hard water, you may have to drain it more often.

Steps to Perform a Water Heater Drain

Before draining the water in your heater, remember that the water will likely be hot. Also, keep in mind that many of the pipes connected to the heater could be hot too. Therefore, it is important to drain your water heater carefully to avoid accidents or burns.

  1. Turn off gas or electricity. Follow your owner’s manual. If you own a gas heater, turn the knob to the off position. In an electric heater, turn off the circuit breaker to disconnect the power supply.
  2. Next, turn off the cold water to the water heater. In most cases, turning the valve 90 degrees should do the trick.
  3. Turn on the hot water at one of the taps in your house before flushing. Doing so will prevent a vacuum from forming, thus making it easier to drain your water heater. Leave the faucet on while you drain the heater.
  4. Put on a pair of protective gloves and hook-up hose to drain your water heater. Run the hose outside, or use empty buckets if there’s no drain outside access. Watch for leaks where your hose connects to the heater. If you see a leak, use pliers to tighten the hose at the heater junction (be careful not to strip the threads or cross-thread your fitting). Hook up the hose to drain the water heater.
  5. Now, drain the water heater tank by opening the drain valve. Allow all the water to flow out.
  6. Flush the water heater tank. You can do this by opening the cold water supply. Repeat this step a few times to flush out all sediments.
  7. Once the water begins to run clear and you see no more sediments, turn off the water heater tank drain valve.
  8. Open the cold-water valve and fill the water heater tank.
  9. Power up your water heater.

How Much Does a Water Heater Flush Cost?

It is easy to perform a water heater flush on your own. But if you choose to hire a professional, water heater flushes aren’t usually very expensive.

Do You Need to Flush a Tankless Water Heater?

All water heaters should be flushed, and the frequency depends on use, size, and the kind of water in your area. Though tankless heaters do not hold a lot of water as compared to regular water heaters, the interiors, and pipes do need cleaning and maintenance. Therefore, it is advised to clean out a tankless water heater too at least once a year.

Running water through the pipes of a tankless water heater will clear any sediment build-up and scaling. Most professional plumbers also clean out the fans, vents, and filtration when they clean out a tank.

What Are the Disadvantages of Flushing a Water Heater?

There are no downsides to flushing a water heater. In fact, a flush will help break down sediments that may be causing a blockage. During a flush, a plumber can also look into other parts of the water heater and perform any repairs that might be needed.

Draining your water heater will allow you and your family to enjoy hot and long showers all year round. However, if not done right, draining a water heater could be dangerous.

When in doubt, hire a professional licensed plumber to do the job for you. Four Seasons Plumbing is a reliable and trustworthy company that offers various plumbing services ranging from heater installation to annual maintenance. Contact us today at 828-216-3894.

Max Rose - Owner of Four Seasons Plumbing


Max Rose

Max Rose is the owner of Four Seasons Plumbing, a plumbing company in Asheville, North Carolina.