The Nasty Reason You Should Be Flushing Your Water Heater Annually



Rusty colored sludge draining out of water heater

Did you know that sediment and sludge collect and hide at the bottom of your water heater tank?

Look at the nasty sludge coming out of this water heater! Photo source

You see, water has lots of dissolved minerals in it that are perfectly safe for you to drink. But they can settle at the bottom of your water heater and create a nasty sludge.

Diagram of where sediment settles in water heater

Image source: Bradford White

And this sludge is more than just nasty. It also causes some inconvenient and expensive problems for you.

Problems caused by sediment in your water heater

The layer of sediment on the bottom of your water heater can result in:

Less hot water

Have you noticed that your hot water is not as hot as it used to be? It could be caused by a layer of sediment on the bottom of the water heater.

You see, the sediment forms an insulating layer that makes it more difficult for your water heater to heat your water. And that can lead to…

Higher energy bills

Since your water heater can’t heat the water as well, it will run longer and rack up your energy bills. And running more often can lead to…

Burst/leaking water heater

Your water heater has a special inner lining to prevent the tank from rusting. But when your water heater is running constantly (because of the layer of sediment on the bottom), the tank overheats and cracks the protective lining.

So now your water heater is more susceptible to rust, which can cause the tank to leak or burst. And that leads to…

Water damage

When water heaters burst, that’s 60 to 80 gallons of water all over your home. That’s some serious water damage. In fact, water heater failures cost an average of $4,444 per incident after the deductible was paid, according to Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

The solution: Flush out your water heater annually

The best way to avoid these problems is to flush out your water heater every year.

And it’s relatively simple to do. Basically, you open up the drain at the bottom of the water heater and run fresh, clean water through it to clear out any buildup of sediment.

(Angie’s List has a great tutorial on how to flush your water heater.)

But using a professional has its advantages. Most quality plumbers will also check the rest of your water heater to make sure that the whole thing is running in tip-top shape.

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