In many homes, the water heater is the most frequently replaced major appliance. Without proper maintenance, the life span can be as little as six years. Draining a water heater annually can extend service life, as well as improve performance and reduce operating costs.

All municipal water supplies contain a level of naturally-occurring dissolved minerals known as “hardness.” As hard water is heated, minerals gradually accumulate in the bottom of the water heater tank. If the tank isn’t regularly drained, this layer of sediment solidifies, forming a permanent barrier that insulates water in the tank from the heat of the burner flame. Burner cycles get increasingly longer, consuming excessive gas until the tank finally becomes unusable and must be replaced.

Draining sediment from the water heater once a year is an easy DIY task:

  1. If the heater is natural gas-fueled, turn water heater gas valve to the “off” position. If it’s an electric water heater, turn off the power to the heater at the switch or circuit breaker.
  2. Shut the cold water inlet valve on top of the heater. Open up a hot water tap in the house somewhere close to the water heater.
  3. Connect a garden hose to the drain outlet located near the bottom of the heater. Route the other end of the hose outdoors to an appropriate discharge location.
  4. Open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain.
  5. After the tank is empty, open the cold water inlet valve and flush the tank for several minutes until water emerging from the hose appears clean.
  6. Close the drain valve and the hot water tap you opened earlier. Disconnect the garden hose.
  7. Allow a few minutes for the tank to refill completely with water. Following manufacturer’s instructions, relight the pilot, then turn the gas valve to “on.” For an electric water heater, restore electricity at the power switch or circuit breaker.

For more information on water heater operation and maintenance, contact Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing today!

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