How to Flush Your Water Heater

Water heater maintenance such as flushing the tank can prevent premature failure due to corrosion in the tank. Our water in Florida is full of minerals, sediment, and dirt that can cause rust out the bottom of the tank over time. You can prevent that build-up and extend the life of your water heater by following these easy steps to flushing your tank. If you feel you are not up to the job, we will be happy to do it for you. Merit Plumbing provides residential plumbing service and repair in Sarasota, Bradenton, Lakewood Ranch, and surrounding areas in Florida.

VideoTranscript:

JJ Donaldson (00:05)

Hey, everybody. This is JJ with Merrick Plumbing in Sarasota, Florida. Just wanted to do a real quick video for you about flushing your tank-style water heater. Your water heater should be flushed approximately once a year to help remove the sediment in the bottom that builds up from sediment and dirt in the water and minerals, particularly over here in Florida with our hot water. Over time, those minerals and sediment build up in the bottom of the water heater, they become acidic and they can eat through the tank prematurely.

 (00:35)

So it’s a good idea once a year to flush your water heater to help get the most amount of time out of it that you can. And it’s really simple. This is not something that you typically would need to call someone out to your home to do. I’m going to go over the way I have always done it. The way some people used to recommend doing it would be different, and it could get complicated for some people, and you could make a mistake. So they used to tell you to. Turn off the water at the valve. And turn off the power to the water heater and drain the entire heater all the way out. And one of the problems with that is that if you forget to turn the power off to the water heater and you drain the water heater with the power on, you will burn out the heating element in the water heater. So we don’t want to do that.

(01:22)

So the simplest, easiest way to flush your water heater, especially if you don’t want to call someone out to do it, is to simply hook a hose, just a standard garden hose, up to the drain valve on the bottom of the water heater. And then most of them now you just use a standard flat head screwdriver and stick it in here and unscrew this.

(01:50)

And so you can hear the water pressure that feeds the water heater, flushing all the dirt up from the bottom of the heater. So that’s all I do, is I put a garden hose on it, open up that valve, let it run for about ten minutes, let the water pressure naturally push everything out. Then you don’t have to worry about turning off the tower, draining the whole thing down, possibly burning out an element, hook up your garden hose, open that valve, let it run for ten minutes, close that valve, wrap up your water hose, your garden hose, and you’re all done. One more thing I’ll show you on this water heater is the flexible hoses that some people have been putting on in the last few years. While they do make the installation of your water heater quite easy, one of the things we’ve had happen on them is while they look like their braided stainless steel on the outside, so the outside is braided stainless steel. That’s just so that way if the hose inside ruptures, they don’t burst, and we’ll hold them together inside this braided stainless steel. It’s just a rubber hose.

(03:01)

And these braided hoses, they work fine on toilets and faucets. But for whatever reason, at water heaters, it’s common. After a few years, the rubber will start breaking down in the hose and you’ll start getting black specs coming through your faucet. So if I get a phone call from someone that says they have black debris coming through their faucet, the first place I’m coming to look at water heater and it’s got these hoses, we’re going to get rid of them. So this is a job I’m wrapping up at the remodel. Someone else had hooked up these just temporarily to get the water heater back on while it was moved out. So I’m going to go ahead, cut these hoses out of here and hard pipe it back in the proper way. But that’s something to watch out for if you’re going to install your own water heater or someone else. Put these on. I really don’t recommend these hoses, because down the road, you may be calling me back out to remove them due to black debris coming through the water. So that’s it. I’m going to let this flush out for about ten minutes and then I’m going to turn off the water. I hope you find that helpful.