Why Does a Water Heater Need Flushing?



Hand on water heater anode rod

September 21, 2017

A water heater needs to be flushed periodically to avoid:

  • A premature breakdown.
  • Hot water shortage problems.
  • Noise from the water heater.

We’ll explain how water heater flushing prevents these three problems. But first, let’s take a quick look at what “flushing” a water heater really means.

So, What Exactly is a Water Heater Flush?

A water heater flush is when a professional drains your water heater tank of all its water. Sounds pointless, sure, but the real point behind draining the water is to flush out all the sediment that accumulates at the bottom of the tank.

So, what is this sediment and where is it coming from?

Well, that sediment actually comes from your water. You see, many areas in Colorado have “hard water” — water high in minerals like calcium and magnesium. And over time, those minerals settle to the bottom of your water heater, creating sediment buildup.

Now, a small amount of sediment buildup isn’t necessarily harmful. But over the years, if your water heater doesn’t get flushed, that sediment can cause your tank to burst, among other costly problems.

So How Often Do I Need to Flush My Water Heater?

Well, it all depends on how hard your water is.

Follow these steps to see how often you should have your water heater flushed:

Step One: Find your geographical area on this USGS (United States Geological Survey) map.

United States Water Hardness Map

Source

Step Two: Determine how hard your water is, determined by the colors red, white, blue, and purple.

Step Three: Have your water heater flushed:

  • Once a year if you live in a purple or blue area.
  • At least twice a year if you live in a white or red area.

Three Problems You’ll Avoid With a Water Heater Flush

1. A premature breakdown

As sediment starts to build up on the inside of your tank, it insulates the water from the burners. This forces your water heater to eventually overheat the water. As water heats, it expands, so the hotter the water gets, the more pressure builds up inside the tank until it bursts or explodes.

And the worst part? Before your water heater dies, you’ll likely see frequent, expensive repairs due to sediment buildup. For example, if sediment collects on your water heater’s heating element, it can cause it to overheat and require replacement.

2. Hot water shortage

This problem is pretty simple: If you have a 30-gallon water heater with 10 gallons of sediment, you now have a 20-gallon water heater, which is a drastic difference in hot water supply, especially if you have several people in your household.

3. Noise from water heater

If a water heater has a good amount of sediment built up inside the tank, it will start making loud popping or knocking noises. Those popping noises are caused by overheated water or steam that jostles the sediment at the bottom of the tank as it tries to rise.

Need help from a Colorado Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, or Electrical Specialist? 

For your convenience, you can request an appointment in one of two ways:

  • Call us at (303) 436-2525 for immediate assistance.
  • Click on the button below to schedule your appointment online.

 

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