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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 blocked the valve and prevented it from turning off. If that happens a hose bib cap can be purchased at the local hardware store for about $1.50 put that on and your good to go. The photo is the inside of such a valve on a hot water heater that was 6 years old and had never been flushed. We tried to empty this tank to replace with a new high efficiency tankless, next photo but the hole was so small it only trickled out. The new heater will produce enough hot water for two showers, one laundry and one dishwasher to run all at the same time.

Got a question about this project?

  • Woodbridge Environmental Tiptophouse.com

    There are two types of vents on a hot water heater. One that is a pressure vent that you should test yearly, unless you have never done this and the heater is a few years old. And a combustion vent, only on a gas or oil fired heater. Electrical

  • Woodbridge Environmental Tiptophouse.com

    Thats great to hear Sarah Kmetz. Glad to help. Thats why I am here for.

  • Elizabeth
    Elizabeth Middleburg, FL

    The water heater at the last house my ex and I owned had never been drained. It suddenly quit working and when the guy came to check it, that was exactly what we found. The sediment was so deep that could not be removed. The heater had to be

  • Correy.smith321

    Oh wow, the first picture sure gave me a depiction of what a sediment filled water heater looks like. Having looked at that had me wanting to check up on my heater and maybe talk to an HVAC contractor about it. Well, mostly to see how old it is and

  • Dan Moss
    Dan Moss Amherst, OH

    One option to draining is called a power flush. No matter what the age is or whether or not you have flushed in the past. You can Perform a mini power flush. Simply hook a hose up to the drain valve and flush about five gallons while the tank is

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