Flushing Your Hot Water Heater
CAUTION: When flushing your hot water heater there is danger of being scalded by hot water. Be careful and keep children and pets away during the procedure.
Hot water heater manufacturers recommend flushing your water heater periodically. How often your hot water heater needs to be flushed depends upon the quality of the water in your area. Lab services recommends flushing at least once a year.
Over time, your hot water heater can accumulate sediment consisting of sand, gravel and various mineral deposits. This buildup can reduce the amount of hot water your water heater holds, create a variety of interesting noises and reduce the efficiency of your water heater. The buildup of sediment at the bottom of the water heater also can harden and sometimes clog the drain valve.
Here are the steps to follow when flushing your water heater:
1. Turn off the water heater.
2. If you have a gas water heater, set the gas valve to "Pilot" to prevent the burners from coming on while you flush it. If your water heater is electric, turn off the circuit breakers to the water heater. If the water level drops below the heating elements and the water heater turns on, the heating elements will burn out rapidly.
3. Connect a garden hose to the drain valve. Make sure the hot water leaving the hose is in a safe area away from pets and children.
Close the shut off valve on the cold water inlet to the water heater.
Carefully open the temperature/pressure relief valve at the top of the heater by lifting the lever. Leave the valve open.
4. Open the drain valve at the bottom of the heater, allowing the water to flow through the garden hose. If the sediment is clogging the drain valve, try closing the temperature/pressure relief valve and turning the cold water inlet valve back on to "power flush" the sediment out.
5. In some cases, the sediment hardens into large chunks that block the drain valve. If this occurs, run the hot water out of the tank by opening the hot water tap and letting the water flow till it is cool. Remove the garden hose and use a long screwdriver to break up the clog.
6. When the water leaving the garden hose runs clear, you are finished.
7. Close the drain valve and remove the garden hose.
8. Close the pressure relief valve and turn the cold water inlet valve back on. Open a hot water faucet and let it run until no air bubbles come out.
9. Turn the water heater back on.
Dip Tube Problem
What Is It and Why Can It Be a Problem?
In an estimated 16 million water heaters manufactured between 1993 and 1996, dip tubes may disintegrate, causing low-water pressure, trouble getting hot water and clogging of home fixtures.
How Do Hot Water Heaters Work?
The dip tube is an integral part of the water heater. Water heaters work by warming cold water before its transmission into pipes in your home. The long pipe inside the hot water tank that carries cold water to be warmed at the bottom of the tank is known as the dip tube.
What Happened to The Dip Tube?
Prior to 1993, dip-tubes were made of metal — usually steel or copper. Beginning in 1993, dip tubes manufacturer Perfection Corporation, which sells dip tubes to many water heater manufacturers, changed to plastic dip tubes. As the defective dip tubes disintegrate, cold water remains at the top of the tank, limiting hot-water supply, while plastic pieces of the dip tube float out into the hot water pipes, possibly clogging faucets, appliance hoses, etc. After receiving complaints in 1996, Perfection Corporation resumed making dip tubes the old fashioned way.
Do I Have a Dip Tube Problem?
A dip tube problem may be present if:
• The hot water heater was manufactured between 1993 and 1996. Look for a stamped-on code, which should also include the year of manufacture.
• Faucet aerator screens, shower heads, etc., suddenly start to clog with small white particles and clog quickly after cleaning them.
• It suddenly takes forever to get hot water, it never seems very hot, or the hot water seems to run out much too fast — even though the thermostat on the water heater is set to max.
What Do I Do If I Have a Dip Tube Problem?
Call your water heater manufacturer if you suspect a dip tube problem. Many water heater manufacturers will replace the dip tube free of charge. In addition, a settlement to a class action suit against water heater manufacturers has been reached.
Proper flushing of the hot water tanks and lines during replacement of the dip tube should cure any clogging problems caused by the dip tube particles.