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How to Flush Out Your Hot Water Tank

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Close up of a hand attaching a hose to a hot water tank.

Flushing out your hot water tank helps to get rid of sediment buildup, which causes damage and less efficient functioning. Here are 7 easy steps to doing it yourself.

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Step 1: Turn off the Water Heater

Make sure that you safely turn your water heater off before doing any work on it. If you have an electric water heater, you can turn it off by simply turning the power switch to the ‘off’ position. If you have a gas-powered water heater, turn your thermostat to the ‘pilot’ setting.

Step 2: Turn off the Cold Water Valve

Turning the cold water valve off will allow you to fully drain your hot water tank. 

Step 3: Allow the Tank to Cool

You don’t want to be working with hot water when flushing the tank. Give the hot water in the tank time to cool down. This may vary depending on tank size and temperature set on the tank. Always take precautions when working with hot water. 

Step 4: Attach a Hose

Once the water in the tank has cooled, attach a garden hose to the drain valve, which is located on the side of the tank. Make sure that the hose is coupled to the valve properly in order to avoid any leaking. Put the end of the hose in a large bucket or into a heat-proof drain that won’t overflow.

Step 5: Turn on Your Faucets

Turning on faucets in your home will prevent a vacuum effect from occurring in your pipes while you flush out the hot water tank. Turn one or two faucets onto the hot setting and let them run while you flush out the tank.

Step 6: Open the Drain Valve

Use a screwdriver to open the drain valve slowly and allow the water from the tank to drain into the bucket or drain where your hose is placed. Allow five to ten gallons of the water in the tank to drain out. This will remove sediment that has built up and prevent damage to your hot water tank.

Step 7: Turn it Back on

Close the drain valve and remove the hose. Then turn on the cold water valve and a hot water faucet. Once the water runs normally from the hot water faucet, you can turn it off.  Now you are ready to either turn on the power or turn up the temperature for your hot water tank, and you’re done!

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