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How to Flush Your Water Heater

If you own a home with a water heater, don’t ignore its regular maintenance. You can flush your water heater by yourself with the simple steps below. When overlooked, a water heater can stop working and cause many other issues.

If you’re nervous about doing it yourself, don’t worry, I got you. I’ve done this process more times than I can count, so here’s my step-by-step method for flushing a water heater.

Do You Need to Flush Your Water Heater?

How to Flush Your Water Heater 1

Yes, you must flush your water heater to remove any buildup of minerals and sediment that can accumulate in the bottom of the tank over time.

This buildup is typical and expected but can cause a slew of problems like reduced heating efficiency, increases in energy consumption, and even damage to the heating elements.

Flushing your water heater regularly can help extend the unit’s lifespan and improve its overall performance.

How Often Should You Flush your Water Heater?

This number will vary from home to home and depends on a few things, including the water quality in your area, the size of the tank, and your home’s usage rate.

As a general guideline, I’d recommend you flush a conventional tank-style water heater once a year, or even more frequently if you’ve got really hard water or if there’s a noticeable buildup of sediment in the tank.

If you’ve got a tankless water heater, you may not need to flush it as frequently since it heats water as needed without storing it in a tank.

But it’s still important to periodically check and clean the heat exchanger to make sure it works well for years to come.

How to Flush Your Water Heater DIY

flush your water heater

Flushing a water heater is an essential maintenance task that shouldn’t be ignored or put off. It’s just like any other type of equipment around the home that needs some love and care if you expect it to last a long time.

Thankfully, it’s an easy enough task that any homeowner can do it themselves. So, here is a simple DIY tutorial on how to flush a water heater.

Step One: Get Everything You Need Together

You’ll need a garden hose, a large bucket, a pair of water pump pliers, and a pair of adjustable pliers.

Step Two: Turn Off the Power Source or Gas Supply

If your water heater is electric, turn off the power by unplugging it or turning off the circuit breaker. If your water heater is a gas-operated unit, turn off the gas supply by closing the gas valve.

Step Three: Connect the Hose

Take one end of your hose and connect it to the drain valve that you can find just at the bottom of the water heater. It should be easy to see. Then place the other end of the hose in a large, empty bucket or just outside (if possible) to drain the water that will come out.

Step Four: Open the Pressure Relief Valve

Slowly open the pressure relief valve that you can find on the top of the water heater to release any pressure in the tank. This’ll let the water flow out more quickly.

Step Five: Open the Drain Valve

Now you can open the drain valve by slowly turning it counter-clockwise with the water pump pliers. Water should start flowing out of the tank, into the bucket, or outside.

Step Six: Flush the Tank

Just let the water flow out of the tank for 10-15 minutes to ensure any sediment and debris that has built up in the tank gets out.

Step Seven: Close the Drain Valve

When it’s been drained well enough, close the valve by turning it back clockwise with the adjustable pliers.

Step Eight: Turn Your Water Supply Back On

Now it’s time to turn the water supply back on. You can do this by opening the valve that you closed.

Step Nine: Turn the Power or Gas Back On

If your water heater is electric, turn the power back on by plugging it in or turning on the circuit breaker. With a water heater that’s gas, turn the gas supply back on by opening the gas valve.

Step Ten: Check for Leaks

Now it’s time to double-check that you did everything correctly. Check all the connections and valves for any leaks. If any water seeps out, turn off the water supply and power/gas again and tighten or repair the connections or valves as needed.

Step Eleven: Check Your Pressure

Once you’re sure there’s no leaking, look at the pressure gauge on the water heater to ensure it’s at the correct level. If the pressure is a little too high or low, adjust it as needed.

Step Twelve: Let the Tank Fill

Now, let the tank fill back up with water and wait for it to heat up before using it. That usually takes a few minutes. Test everything by running hot water through your taps.

Pro Tip: Flushing a water heater should be done regularly, at least once a year. Plus, it’s essential to be aware of the safety precautions when flushing the water heater, like wearing gloves and safety goggles to avoid burns from hot water, and also making sure the area around the water heater is well-ventilated, to prevent inhaling any harmful gases.

All Flushed Out

By following my simple steps and tips, you can easily flush your water heater, maintain its efficiency, and prolong its lifespan. Not to mention, save yourself some money by not having to pay a professional to do it. If you need other tips, like how to relight the pilot light or replace the valves, we’ve got you covered!


How do I know if my water heater needs to be flushed?

If you turn on the hot water in your home and it either takes a while to reach a hot temperature or if you notice a bit of build-up in the water sediments.

What happens if you don’t flush your water heater?

Your unit can become overheated, shut down, elements break, and water flow can become restricted.

How often do you flush the water heater?

At least once a year.