Plumbing How-To: Flushing A Hot Water Heater

Plumbing How-To: Flushing A Hot Water Heater

One of the key things that sets Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer apart from all the other residential service plumbers on Chicago’s Northwest Side, apart from our over 500 five-star reviews, is our willingness to share valuable insights and how-to information with the people who visit our website. It’s just a part of our ongoing commitment to making life easier for our customers and potential customers in need of quick-access plumbing expertise. Today we’re going to look at how to flush your water heater to protect it from sediment buildup and keep it running for as long as the manufacturer intended.

You don’t have to be a professional to flush your water heater. It’s not an in-depth task you have to be afraid of – just simple routine maintenance that every homeowner should become familiar with. Well, at least if your hot water heater has a storage tank. Tankless models don’t require flushing of any kind so if you own one of those you don’t have to concern yourself with the steps below. And remember you can call (773) 633-6139 and let Vanguard’s pros handle the hot water heater flushing for you!

Simple Steps From Vanguard For Flushing Your Hot Water Heater

Okay, let’s talk about what flushing your water heater means and why we’re doing it before we get to the actual step-by-step instructions. Flushing the water heater simply means emptying it of water and using that process to dislodge any scale or sediment that’s built up inside the storage tank. It’s important because without it your hot water heater will have a much shorter productive lifespan and require replacement long before the manufacturer intended. So it’s something you shouldn’t ignore – whether you do it yourself or have the team from Vanguard handle it for you.

Now that we know what we’re dealing with, and why, we can look at the actual steps you need to follow to flush your hot water heater storage tank. Again, tankless models can skip this completely as there’s no tank to flush. The process starts with:

  • Step #1: You need to locate the cold water valve on your hot water heater. Usually this is located somewhere near the top of the storage tank. Turn this valve off so you turn off the water supply to the storage tank.
  • Step #2: Turn the electricity to the hot water tank off. Make 100% sure that power is off to the unit before you go any further. You’ll want to shut off power at the circuit box for electric and gas models. If it’s gas then you’ll want to turn the gas valve to its pilot position or lowest temperature setting.
  • Step #3: Double check that the cold water valve is shut and the power is turned off at the circuit box. This is too important to not check again so make the time to keep yourself and the unit safe throughout the process.
  • Step #4: Get a garden hose and connect it to the drain valve located at the bottom of your hot water heater’s storage tank. Make sure the other end of the hose is somewhere the water can safely drain out of the tank – like a drain or the home’s exterior. Remember gravity will make it tough to drain the tank if the hose is not placed appropriately. It might require a pump if you can’t find a good way to run the hose.
  • Step #5: Turn on a hot water tap in a sink or shower on either the main floor or second floor of your home. We’re trying to create vacuum pressure that will help the tank drain out through the connected hose so don’t forget to do this before you start flushing the tank.
  • Step #6: Now it’s finally time to start draining the hot water heater storage tank via the hose you connected to the drain valve. Open the drain valve and let the water drain out completely before moving to the next step. It can take up to an hour for a tank to drain so give it time and never, ever force the valve open. If you can’t get it open you need the team from Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer to help you.
  • Step #7: Once the water has drained, turn on the cold water valve at the top of the hot water heater storage tank. Let it run for a moment before turning it off again. Repeat this three times so that we break up the sediment and help it escape through the water hose. This may block the drain valve so you’ll need to open and close it three times to dislodge any sediment. Again, do not force it open. If it’s stuck call Vanguard at (773) 633-6139 right away!
  • Step #8: Okay we’re almost finished. Now you just need to repeat steps #6 and #7 as many times as it takes to see totally clear water draining from the water hose attached to the drain valve. It might take a while but every minute you spend now is more time your hot water heater will perform as it should and keep you and your family comfortable.

You’re Finished Flushing The Hot Water Heater, Now What?

You’d completed the hard parts of flushing your Northwest Side hot water heater. Now it’s time to put everything back in working order so your hot water heater is running back at capacity. While it’s simple enough to reverse engineer the steps we’ve shared above, we thought it would be better to give you a plan for putting your hot water heater back together again. Let’s get started:

  • Close the drain valve the hose is attached to. Don’t force it!
  • Turn on the cold water valve at the top of the hot water heater and let it refill the tank. You’ll know it’s full when you see water flowing from the tap you opened earlier.
  • Turn the tap off.
  • If your heater is gas, turn the gas valve back to operating parameters.
  • Turn power back on to the hot water heater at circuit box.
  • Check drain valve for leaks.

If You Have Problems You’re Not Alone – Just Call Vanguard!

Flushing a hot water heater in your Northwest Side home is something you definitely can do without fear or hesitation. It’s designed to be straightforward and easy to get right so long as you follow the basic steps we’ve laid out above. If you’re still uncomfortable with the idea of messing with a gas or electric appliance it’s alright. The licensed, insured and highly skilled plumbers from Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer can help you with tremendous service and pricing that’s too good to pass up. Call (773) 633-6139 or use a contact form to get started!

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Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer is a local, family-owned plumbing company with decades of experience delivering the finest service to Chicago and its northern suburbs.

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Vanguard Plumbing

Vanguard Plumbing & Sewer
Phone: (773) 633-6139
Location: 4352 N. Kenneth Ave.
Chicago, Illinois 60641

Business Hours:
Monday – Friday: 7:00 AM–5:00 PM
Saturday: 7:00 AM–3:00 PM
Sunday: Closed

City & State Licensing:
Chicago Sewer: #2422
Illinois Contractor: #055-043043
Chicago Contractor: #SBC196464