Water heaters are arguably one of the most important parts of a home plumbing system. Hot water heaters are usually utilized daily. Whether you are taking a shower or washing the dishes, you’ll need hot water at some point. For many, it is out of sight, out of mind. This is unsurprising because it is often located in a basement or unused closet. Just like any fixture or appliance, your water heater needs regular maintenance to ensure its efficiency and longevity.

Professionals recommend maintenance on a schedule. Has the water heater flushed at least once every 12 months? If there are six or more people living in the home, it is recommended to flush the water heater twice per year (every 6 months). Flushing your water heater helps to remove minerals and other debris that could cause it to malfunction if left unchecked.

Read all labels, warnings, and instructions on your water heater before you get started. And If you have the manual, be sure to follow the instructions. If you have misplaced your manual, it is not uncommon for manufacturers to have instructions on their website.

The first step will be to turn off the water supply. At the top of your water heater, you should see a water pipe and water shut-off valve. Turn the valve clockwise to turn off the supply. Next, you will need to turn off the power. If your water heater is electric, turn off the power at the breaker box. If you have a gas-powered water heater, turn off the gas supply valve that runs into it. You will need to attach a hose that is in good condition to the spigot at the bottom of the water heater. Turn on the spigot to allow the water heater to drain. It is advisable to let the water sit for a short while to cool. It is probably still extremely hot.

After you have allowed some time for the water to cool, look to the top of the tank and you will see a pressure release valve. Open the valve to allow the water to drain. Be patient! This could take up to 30 minutes depending on the condition of your water heater. Finally, after this is done, it is wise to test that the pressure release valve is functioning properly. Refer to your manual for information on how to do this. If the valve is not functioning properly, you should hire a professional to inspect it for you.

Run some water through the tank while the pressure valve is still open. Make sure all the sediment has drained. Do this until the water runs clear, then turn the water off again. You may now remove the hose from the spigot and close it. Close the pressure release valve, and turn on the water valve to refill the water heater. Once it is full, you may turn the power back on, and voila! Your water heater maintenance is complete!

Brad Jordan

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