Hot Water Tank Preventative Maintenance
Draining your water heater once a year removes sediment from the tank that can cause it to work harder and cost more to use. Most people have no idea that there water tank requires yearly maintenance up until they start having problems. Following these simple steps will ensure that your water tank will perform at optimum efficiency and give you years of problem free service.
Please note the following Cautions and Warnings listed below:
If you do not feel comfortable doing this work yourself, call a licensed plumber.
- Be careful, as the water may be very hot.
- Do not power on without filling with water completely. If you do, the heating element will be damaged.
- Regular flushing will keep your heater free of debris, but most plumbers caution that if the valve hasn’t been opened in more than five years, it may be best not to attempt turning the handle as the valve may fail.
- If you do not feel comfortable doing this work yourself, call a licensed plumber.
- Be careful not to break the drain cock.
- Note: Read the instructions on the tank for turning off the gas and or electricity. Don’t just do it unless you know what you are doing.
- Water in your hot water tank can scald you.
- If you did not allow the water to cool, it will be extremely hot as it leaves the tank.
First, test the pressure-relief valve located on the top or side of the water heater. This valve opens automatically if the pressure inside the tank gets too high. (Excess pressure can actually cause the tank to explode.)
If the valve doesn’t release water when you lift the lever, replace the valve (sold at home centers and hardware stores). Replacement is simple; turn off the water, drain the tank, unscrew the discharge pipe and then unscrew the old valve.
Wrap the threads of the new valve with sealant tape and screw it in. If your valve is several years old and has never been tested, it might leak after you test it. In that case, replace the valve.
Then turn off the power and/or gas to the water heater. Unplug your water heater from the power source. With a gas water heater, turn the gas control dial to “off.” If you have an electric heater, turn off the power at the main panel.
Gas Control Dial
Next, turn the cold water supply valve off that allows water to flow into the heater. This valve will be located on the top of the water tank. Then turn on the hot water at any faucet to release the pressure inside the heater’s tank. Leave the faucet on until you finish your work.
Cold Water Shut-Off Valve
Hook up a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater and run it to a floor drain or you can use a bucket. Then open the drain valve where the hose is attached. Don’t worry about any gurgling or groaning noises coming from the heater, it’s just air entering the system as water drains out.
Allow the water in the heater to drain out. This should take around 20 to 40 minutes depending on how small or large the hot water heater is. When the heater is empty, open the cold water valve for a few minutes to flush out the remaining sediment. Always let the water flow until you no longer see particles in the bucket.
Now that the tank is drained and cleaned of sediments disconnect your garden hose and close the drain valve. Close the pressure relief valve and open cold water valve. Allow the tank to fill back up. You will know when your tank is full when hot water starts to run at the faucet that was left open to purge air from the system. Don’t worry about any gurgling or groaning noises coming from the heater or the faucet it’s just air exiting the system as water tank becomes full. Once full shut the faucet.
Relight the pilot to the water heater if gas, and turn on. If electric, turn the breaker on to restore power to the water heater.
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