Your water heater is one of the most used and more expensive appliances in your home, and consumes a large portion of your energy dollars each month. And experts say regular care and maintenance is essential to protecting your investment and saving on your home heating and energy costs.
Regular flushing of your water heater is probably the single most important step you can take to prolong its service life and to save energy. Over a period of time, sediments build up in the bottom of your hot water system. These sediments act as a barrier between the flame and the tank, thereby making your heater burn longer and hotter. This is not only destructive to the tank, but highly inefficient and will significantly raise your heating costs.
In most areas of the country, the average water heater lasts 3-5 years. Regularly flushing your water heater can double the life of your water heater from 3-5 to 7-10 years. And with the costs of replacement running from $700 to over $1200 in some cases, getting the most out of your heater is critical in today’s economy. In addition, regular flushing makes your water heater run more efficiently and can cut heating costs in half. Depending on the volume of hot water your home uses, that can mean a savings of $20 to over $50 a month.
To drain your water heater, first you should set the thermostat to pilot (if it is a gas water heater) or turn the circuit breaker off (if it is an electric heater). Failure to do so could result in overheating and severe damage to the water heater. Next, close the water supply valve located on the water inlet line going into your water heater. You can then connect a garden hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the heater. Open the drain and allow it to run until all of the water has emptied from the heater. Then close the drain. Open the water supply valve and refill the heater. You should also open a hot water faucet somewhere inside the house and stand there and watch it run for several minutes until the water flows out smoothly. This will allow air to vent from the heater and the hot water lines. Finally, you can turn the thermostat back to its regular setting (for a gas heater), or turn the circuit breakers back on (for an electric heater).
Besides regularly flushing your water heater, plumbing experts also advise adding a water treatment system to your home to filter or condition the water so it is less corrosive to your plumbing system, particularly in areas which have hard water. For more ways to care for and protect your home plumbing system, contact a licensed, professional plumbing contractor in your area to discuss options and products to suit your needs.