At Quality Comfort Home Services, we understand that your water heater is an essential part of your daily life. It’s the unsung hero that provides you with hot water for showers, cooking, and cleaning. However, like all appliances, your water heater requires regular care to ensure it operates efficiently and lasts for years to come.
What does preventive water heater maintenance include?
- Flush water heater
- Inspect gas lines
- Check the flue
- Inspect water supply lines
First and foremost, preventive water heater maintenance should include flushing the water heater. Flushing your water heater involves draining and cleaning the tank or heat exchanger to remove sediment buildup. This process is necessary for both traditional tank-style water heaters and tankless models.
Why Annual Flushing Is Essential
Sediment Accumulation: Over time, minerals and debris from your water supply settle at the bottom of the tank. This sediment can impede the heating process and cause your system to work harder, leading to increased energy consumption and a shorter lifespan.
Reduced Efficiency: Sediment buildup acts as an insulating barrier between the heating element and the water, making it harder for the heater to maintain the desired temperature. This can result in longer heating times and higher energy bills.
Corrosion Prevention: Flushing removes corrosive elements that can damage the tank, helping to extend its life and reduce the likelihood of leaks.
The Steps in Flushing a Tank Water Heater
- Turn Off the Power: For electric water heaters, shut off the power at the breaker. For gas heaters, turn off the gas supply.
- Cool Down the Water: Allow the water in the tank to cool down to a safe temperature.
- Drain the Tank: Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and drain the water into a suitable location, such as a floor drain or outside.
- Flush the Tank: Once the tank is empty, open the cold-water supply valve for a few minutes to flush out remaining sediment.
- Close the Valves: Close the drain valve and the cold-water supply valve.
- Refill and Restart: Turn the cold-water supply back on and allow the tank to fill. Turn the power or gas supply back on and monitor the unit for any issues.
The Steps in Flushing a Tankless Water Heater
- Shut Off the Power: Turn off the electricity or gas supply to the water heater. For gas heaters, set the thermostat to the “Pilot” position.
- Off the Water Supply: Locate the cold water supply valve and shut it off.
- Locate the Service Valves: Most tankless water heaters have service valves on both the cold water inlet and hot water outlet. These are typically located near the unit.
- Connect Hoses: Attach one hose to the cold water service valve and the other to the hot water service valve. Ensure they are securely connected.
- Open a Hot Water Faucet: To allow air into the system, open a hot water faucet in your home. This helps with the flushing process.
- Flush with Vinegar or Descaling Solution: We use a descaling solution, but if you are using vinegar the same steps can be followed. Pour a few gallons of either solution into a bucket or container. If you have a submersible pump, you can use it to circulate the vinegar through the water heater. Otherwise, you may need to rely on the unit’s pump or the pressure of the incoming water to flush the system. Turn on the cold water supply valve to flush the vinegar or descaling solution through the unit for about 45-60 minutes.
- Rinse the System: Close the hot water faucet and turn off the cold water supply valve. Disconnect the hoses from the service valves.
- Flush with Fresh Water: Reconnect the hoses to the service valves and open the cold water supply valve. Allow fresh water to flow through the unit for about 10-15 minutes to rinse out any remaining vinegar or descaling solution.
- Disconnect Hoses and Close Service Valves: Disconnect the hoses from the service valves and close both the hot and cold water service valves.
- Restore Power: Turn the electricity or gas supply back on to the water heater.
- Check for Leaks: Inspect all connections for leaks. If you find any, tighten them with a wrench or adjust as needed.
- Turn Off the Faucet: Close the hot water faucet you opened earlier.
- Monitor for Proper Operation: Turn on hot water taps in your home to ensure that the water heater is functioning properly and that there are no unusual noises or issues.
Flushing a water heater can definitely be done on your own, but it also should be part of any water heater maintenance performed by a plumbing company.
Why Not Flush an Old Water Heater?
While annual flushing is recommended, attempting to flush an old or neglected water heater can sometimes cause more harm than good. If the unit has not been regularly maintained, flushing can dislodge accumulated sediment and debris, potentially clogging valves and causing damage. In such cases, it’s best to consult a plumber to assess the condition of the water heater and recommend the most appropriate course of action. At Quality Comfort we typically do not flush a water heater that is over 10 years old.
What About Water Heater Warranties?
Many water heater manufacturers require annual water heater maintenance in order to maintain the validity of the warranty. If you do not have regular maintenance and your water heater breaks down, your warranty may not cover the repairs.
When it comes to water heater flushing and warranties, it is Quality Comfort’s stance that we will not flush a water heater that is outside of the warranty period if it has not been properly maintained annually each year prior.
Besides the Flush…
As you can see, flushing a water heater is a major aspect of the annual maintenance. Now let’s go back and discuss the other tasks we mentioned earlier. A visual inspection should be informed of all gas lines and water supply lines. Examining them closely will indicate if there are any deficiencies and if further testing should be done. Finally, if you have a gas water heater then checking the flue to ensure it is drafting correctly is of utmost importance. The flue is responsible for taking the exhaust gases up and out of the house. If it is not working properly you could have dangerous gases, including carbon monoxide, leaking out into the home.
In Need of Water Heater Maintenance Near Cincinnati, OH?
Quality Comfort Home Services is a 5-star rated plumbing company based out of Cincinnati, OH and serving all of Southwest Ohio. We perform comprehensive water heater maintenance and repair services. You can contact us today at 513-620-4822 or book your water heater service online anytime.