Once we install a water heater, we almost always forget about it, taking the hot water that runs through the tap for granted. But like any other appliance in our home that continues to function without resting, a water heater also needs regular cleaning and maintenance.
This is something you can do yourself. By following some steps on how to clean water heater after using, you can do this at home. it’s advised to flush this at least once a year to keep it functioning well.
This article will give you the lowdown on how you should do this important chore.
Why Cleaning Water Heater Is Important
As cold water constantly flows into the tank via a dip tube, it goes to the bottom of the tank and gets heated. The hot water then comes out from the top of the tank. This continuous cycle results in sediments forming at the bottom.
This sediment is a hotbed for bacteria as there is a sludge build-up. There are other contaminants and rust found in the water heater as well as calcium deposits. These substances are not good for the human body and health as they can cause skin conditions and other diseases.
The sediment can cause excessive heating at the bottom, turning the water to steam. This triggers small explosions inside, making part of the sediment come off and mix in the water.
Such sediment hampers the functioning power of the water heater. They can also lead to blocked pipes and may cause the heating element to stop working altogether.
Moreover, besides the reduced efficiency of the water heater, sediments can lead to it making a lot of noise.
Therefore, to ensure you get clean water free from bacteria and other contaminants, it is important to give a thorough clean to your water heater once a year.
Flushing And Cleaning Your Water Heater – The Steps
You may have either an electric or a gas water heater. The basic steps of cleaning either is the same. Just follow the steps outlined below.
Turn Off The Water Heater Thermostat
If you have a gas water heater, look for the thermostat knob close to the tank bottom. If there’s a setting called “Pilot”, this will also work. However, to be absolutely sure, turn the knob to the mark where it says “Off”.
In case your water heater is electric, locate the breaker box in your home and turn the switch connecting to the water heater off.
Disconnect Gas Connection
Locate the gas pipe that connects to the thermostat and pilot light of the water heater. Turn the valve off. However, if you’re on the “Pilot” mode, you can skip this step.
Disconnect Cold Water Supply
Locate the cold water line at the top of the water heater tank and turn it off.
Turn On Hot Water
Turn on the hot water faucet in your tub or sink. Leave it on throughout the cleaning and flushing process to prevent a vacuum from forming in the supply line.
Loosen The Pressure Relief Valve
This step is not necessary but gives you the chance to check if the pressure valve is working correctly. However, opening the valve will ease the flow of water through the system.
Put a bucket under the pressure valve before you open it as hot water will gush out. To test if the pressure valve is working alright, there should be water coming out. Otherwise, you need to replace it.
Cool The Water
After you have opened the pressure valve, let the water in the heater cool down.
Preparing For The Drainage
Take a garden hose and connect it to the hose bib located at the water heater bottom. Pull the hose pipe to direct it to the garden outside or a floor drain.
If the basement is where your water heater is, then you might need a portable pump for directing the water from the basement to the ground floor.
Draining The Water
Turn on the spigot and drain all the water from the water heater tank. It should take a few minutes to empty the tank. Remove the drain valve.
Cleaning The Tank
Take a long, narrow brush and push it through the hole where the drain valve was. Scrape away as much sediment as possible from inside the tank. This will improve the water heater efficiency.
Take a 3/4th-inch plumbing nipple and attach it to the drain opening. Place a container or bucket under it or connect a hose to the other end of the nipple. Put the hose end inside the bucket so that you can see the water being drained.
Turn on the cold water valve that leads to the water heater. Let the water flow until it runs clear. This will take a few minutes. Keep repeating the process by removing the nipple until there is no more sediment in the water in the bucket.
Completing The Process
- Turn off the cold water valve leading to the water heater.
- Turn off the drainage valve and disconnect the garden hose.
- Check and close the pressure relief valve if it’s been opened.
- Turn off the faucet in your tub or sink.
- Turn on the cold water valve that connects to the tank.
- After the tank gets full, turn on the pressure valve to release extra air.
- Turn on the hot water faucet in your sink or tub to get excess air out. There should be cold water coming out. Now turn it off.
- Turn on the gas connecting to the water heater.
- Light the pilot light if you turned the thermostat off on the heater. This will turn it on.
- In case of an electric water heater, turn the switch back on the breaker box.
- Wait for 20 minutes before checking if hot water is coming from any of the hot water taps in your home.
The simple steps to clean a water heater at home is useful for everyone. Remember that water is the only thing we use most frequently and without even thinking. Activities like bathing, brushing our teeth, washing clothes, drinking, etc. come to us almost automatically.
Hence, to keep ourselves safe and free from the potentially harmful effects of bacteria, rust, calcium, and other contaminants, we must remember to clean the water heater annually. It’s especially important if we have infants and older family members living at our home.
Be responsible and clean your water heater before it stops working or causes diseases!