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How to Flush Your Hot Water Heater

When it comes to doing household chores, flushing your hot water heater is easy to overlook. I know I never thought about doing it until Jeremy included it in his truly handy home maintenance checklist.

But regularly flushing out your hot water heater is an important task. Getting rid of the gunk and mineral deposits that accumulate will help your hot water heater run more efficiently as well as prolong its life, saving you money in the long run.

After living in my home for several years, I figured my hot water heater was due for a flush and decided to tackle this chore. Fortunately, it turned out to be super easy. Excluding the time I was waiting for the water in the tank to cool, it took me all of about 20 minutes.

I documented the process as I did it, just in case you need to do likewise. Maybe this post will inspire you to finally knock this to-do off your list this weekend.

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How Often Should You Flush Your Hot Water Heater?

Depending on your model, aim to flush your hot water heater every one to three years. Really, the job is so easy, it wouldn’t be a bother to do it at least once a year.

How to Flush Your Hot Water Heater

Hot water heaters come in two varieties: gas and electric. I’ve got the gas variety, so these instructions will be geared towards flushing a gas hot water heater. The biggest difference between gas and electric is that with gas, you’ll be turning off the gas to your appliance; with an electric, you’ll be turning off the electricity.

1. Turn the Knob on Your Hot Water Heater’s Thermostat to “Off”

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The thermostat on a gas hot water heater is usually found near the bottom of the tank. Other sources I ran across said you could get away with just setting your thermostat to “Pilot.” I decided to be extra safe and turned it off completely. If you turn your hot water heater off, and you have an older model, you’ll have to re-light your pilot light.

If you have an electric hot water heater, you’ll want to find your home’s breaker box and turn off the switch that gives power to your hot water heater.

2. Turn Off Gas to Hot Water Heater

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If you have a gas hot water heater, find the gas pipe leading to your thermostat and pilot light and turn the valve to the off position. If you decide to just turn your thermostat to “pilot” you won’t need to do this step.

3. Turn Off the Cold Water Supply to Hot Water Heater

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The cold water valve is usually near the top of your hot water heater. Turn it to off.

4. Turn on the Hot Water in a Sink or Tub

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Leave them on during the entire flushing process. This will help prevent a vacuum from forming in the lines while you’re draining the hot water tank.

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