Why you should have your hot water heater flushed regularly

When’s the last time you had your hot water heater flushed? It’s not part of the maintenance routine for most homeowners but it probably should be. Most experts recommend flushing your hot water heater at least once a year. A flush is when a professional drains your hot water heater tank of all its water.

Signs your hot water heater needs to be flushed:

Strange noises coming from the heater. Popping, crackling or banging sounds often are caused by sediment buildup in the tank.
Reduced hot water supply. If there is a thick layer of sediment at the bottom of the tank, it reduces the available space for hot water storage. This results in running out of hot water quicker. Good water pressure from cold taps but low pressure from hot taps can indicate sediment buildup is restricting flow.
Increased energy costs. With the heater working harder to heat water through the sediment layer, it consumes more energy, driving up utility bills.
Discolored hot water. Sediment can cause the tank's inner lining to corrode, leading to rust particles mixing with the hot water.
Longer wait times for water heating. The sediment acts as an insulating layer, making it harder for the heating element to transfer heat. This will cause longer wait times for hot water.

There are several reasons why flushing is recommended:

Remove sediment buildup. Over time, minerals like calcium and magnesium from hard water settle at the bottom of the tank, forming a sediment layer. This buildup can insulate the tank, which can reduce heating efficiency.
Improve heating efficiency. A layer of sediment can act as an insulator, making the heater worker harder to heat water up properly. Removing the sediment allows the heater to operate more efficiently and heat water faster.
Keep valves and pipes clear. The sediment can block or clog the temperature and pressure relief valve, along with other pipes and components in your water heater.
Prevent noise issues. Remember the popping or banging we mentioned above? Getting rid of that sediment will help rid you of that noise.
Stopping bacterial growth. Stagnant water in the layer of sediment can promote the growth of harmful bacteria.
Extend equipment lifespan. The sediment layer can lead to overheating of the tank, which could cause premature failure or even tank ruptures. Regular flushing prevents damage like this and can prolong the water heater's life. The cost of routine flushings is a lot cheaper than the cost of replacing a water heater.
Maintain warranty coverage. Many manufacturers require flushing as part of their warranty terms. Having documented flushings can ensure you remain covered in case of tank failure.
Reduce energy costs. If your heater is not having to work as hard, it will make opening those utility bills easier. 

Other things to consider:

● If you’re in an area with hard water, flushing every 4-6 months is recommended to help prevent mineral buildup.
● For tankless water heaters, flushing is recommended every 1-2 years, and annually or twice a year when the tank ages past 10 years.
● Larger tanks and heavily used water heaters may require more frequent flushings due to faster sediment accumulation.
● For homes with water softeners, the flushing interval could potentially be longer due to reduced mineral content, but anode rods may need to be replaced more frequently.
● Manufacturers' recommendations should be consulted, as some newer models may have different guidelines or even self-cleaning features that could affect maintenance schedules.

When in doubt, call Odyssey!

Need to flush your hot water heater? Reach out to the experts at Odyssey Mechanical! The team here at Odyssey Mechanical provides prompt, reliable plumbing services to commercial and residential customers in and around Wilmington, North Carolina. Odyssey Mechanical is a full-service handyman company. We handle everything – from plumbing and electrical to gas and HVAC. No matter what we’re doing, we do it with the greatest care and attention to detail.


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