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Should I Drain My Hot Water Heater?

Preventive Maintenance

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Draining your hot water heater can significantly extend its life. As water is heated, minerals are released from the water and left behind in the tank. If you don’t periodically remove the accumulation, it can build up and eventually clog the drain valve. Be aware that some areas of the country have water that is higher in mineral content than others. This means the sediment accumulates faster and requires a more frequent schedule for draining it away. Drain the water until it runs clear; you don’t have to drain the entire unit.

Conservation

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A hot water heater that has a heavy accumulation of sediment does not operate at its peak efficiency. Drain your hot water heater once a year to remove the buildup of sediment. To further conserve energy, flush the hot water heater when the water is cold, by using up any hot water in the tank for bathing, washing clothes, or cleaning dishes before draining the tank.

Finance

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Periodically draining your hot water heater is free and a fairly easy maintenance chore. It keeps your heater efficient, which saves you money. Regular maintenance helps you meaningfully extend the life of your hot water heater, saving the cost of premature replacement.

Home Safety

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If you don’t see much sediment when you drain the tank, don’t bother to do this chore very often.

Use extreme caution when draining hot water heaters—the water might be hot enough to scald you. Direct the drain hose to a safe drain, so the tank can drain without causing injury or flooding. Instructions are printed on the unit, usually near the gas valve. But, this is a chore that not everyone is comfortable with. When in doubt, get help—have a service professional walk you through it the first time.

If you have an electric water heater, it’s critical to shut off the power before emptying the tank—if you don’t, it will destroy the heating elements.