Sediment in a hot water heater.

Recently there has been posts about draining hot water heaters and the pros as well as the cons in doing this. Typical maintenance on a hot water heater is to flush the bottom drain at least once a year. In some towns where they flush their fire hydrants to keep the pipes clear it is suggested to follow their lead a few days after as any sediment that is disturbed ends up on the bottom of your heater.

What happens then is water displacement. The sandy partials that collect on the bottom of the tank displaces the water ever so slightly. This results in hot spots on the bottom of the tank. When this occurs the flames overheat the tank and begin to break down the steel. After many years this breakdown ends up becoming a tiny hole that is filled with this debris, oftentimes preventing the leak.

However if you decide to drain your heater after many years of not doing it, or all of a sudden you start using the heater more then normal, this sediment that has been plugging that tiny hole is flushed out, often resulting in a leak in a few days after.

So the moral is to flush yearly, but if you have not done so for many years to not touch it or you will end up with a leak.

After draining you may find that the flush hose bib valve at the bottom will not turn off. This is because of some sediment that has

  • The tiny opening at about 2 o'clock is all that remains the rest is build up of hard water and debris that has collected at the bottom of the tank.
  • This is the insides of a new tankless hot water heater.
  • Another side shot of the heater. It vents with three inch PVC pipe.
  • Sarah Kmetz
    Sarah Kmetz Midlothian, VA
    Question about the tankless hot water heaters- we have a natural gas hot water heater now and have thought about replacing it with a tankless one when the time comes. But we were just recently told that if we lost power, we would lose hot water. Is that
  • Joyce Jones
    Joyce Jones Waltham, MA
    I wanted to flush my hot water heater because I recently noticed that my hot water has a brownish tinge to it. I have never flushed the hot water tank and had just recently learned about this process. Since I am seeing the discoloration in the water, I
  • Brenda L
    Brenda L Lexington, KY
    As my plumber told me when he had to come bail me out of water..."if you'd known how this was going to turn out you wouldn't have done this". He says it is like trying to punch a hole in the bottom of an aerosal can and expecting to drain everything out
  • Hiline Builders Inc.
    Hiline Builders Inc. Fair Oaks, CA
    This is good advice. As a contractor I had 2 remodel jobs in a row where we needed to empty the water heater to move it for flooring install and both of them failed when we turned them back on. Draining can cause all of the sediment to go to the bottom
  • Woodbridge Environmental
    Michael, we install a valve system on the bottom inlet and outlet on all tankless units as they are prone to build up with minerals. In fact faster then a normal unit that has a tank. But with the valve system installed we access the unit while shutting
  • Michael
    Michael Monticello, GA
    And don't think the tankless water heater shown is impervious to mineral build up. Cause if it gets a build up inside the coils, well there's nothing you can do, except toss it ,and get a replacement. They really need a water conditioner of some sorts on
  • Mary DeVine
    Mary DeVine Stillwater, MN
    One way to prevent a build up of sand is to place a sediment filter where the water line comes in. This helps to prevent sediment problems on all appliances using the water.
  • Woodbridge Environmental
    The water softener is helping and your right, not the time to flush it now. Most last around 10 years. so your on your last few years anyway.
  • Sondra A
    Sondra A Janesville, WI
    Ugh. I have never heard of flushing the water heater before. We have lived here for 6 years now and I do not know how old mine is or if the people before me have ever flushed it, so I guess I should leave it alone. However, I do have a water softener so
  • Woodbridge Environmental
    All hot water heaters need to be flushed even the high efficiency ones. On those we have special valves fastened on the bottom that turn of the water from the house, we place hoses on each side hot and cold and using a pump and a large bucket of acid
  • Cathy Ezell
    Cathy Ezell Monument, CO
    What about flushing an Energy Star gas water heater that uses soft water?
  • Michele W
    Michele W Osage, OK
    This is so interesting as I have never heard as maintenance to flush hot tank..guess if all else fails read paperwork that comes with it. I do know we have high mineral content in our water and most of tanks have not out lived their warranties none have
  • Ahrisha Lesher
    Ahrisha Lesher Lancaster, PA
    Thanks Woodbridge this was very helpful. Gotta love Hometalk.
  • HomeSpot HQ
    HomeSpot HQ Durham, NC
    I agree, but as long as you start maintaining it from the beginning and take the proper precautions, it can be very effective.
  • Woodbridge Environmental
    While that may work and has been suggested by many, I personally do not advocate putting any chemical citric-based or not into the domestic water supply at all. In order for that to work, the amount of chemical needed due to dilution is so great that you
Woodbridge Environmental

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