DIY: Lengthen the Life of Your Water Heater

Many people don’t think too much about their water heater. It works when they move in, and then they expect it to continue working forever. Just like most everything in life though, just lighting the pilot light isn’t going to ensure your heater will always work. There’s a very good possibility that it will break sometime during your stay at a home you buy. You can avoid that with proper maintenance. It needs to be flushed, and you don’t have to hire someone else to do it either.

Before you begin to prepare, check the warnings and instructions on your tank to find out about any special precautions—like never allowing the tank to get empty. Adjust the following instructions accordingly.

To prepare, you’ll have to turn off the water supply. With an electric heater, cut the power at the breaker. With a gas, twist the thermostat to “pilot” setting. Then turn off the cold-water supply.

Your next step is to drain the hot water from the tank. Before you turn the screw on the valve though, be sure to open up a hot-water faucet in your sink to prevent a vacuum appearing in your pipes. Next, find the drain valve and hook up a house to it. Put the end of the house somewhere to drain. Get a flat head screwdriver and twist the screw on the drain valve to release the water.

Once the tank is emptied, turn back on the water supply with the hose still attached. This will flush out any remaining sediment. Let it continue to flush until the water flows clear. When it does, close the valve again with a twist of the flat head. Go directly to the open hot-water faucet and close it. Wait until the tank is full again and then turn on the power-supply to the water heater at the breaker. When the water temperature has been brought back up to normal, you need to test the pressure-relief valve according to the instructions given. If all is good, then you have successfully flushed your water heater.

This should be done every 1 to 3 years.

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