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Keep Sediment Out with a Clean Hot Water Heater

Keep Sediment Out with a Clean Hot Water Heater

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September 26, 2007

A clean hot water heater works much more efficiently than one allowed to fill with sediment.  Though drinking water is normally clear and clean, some sediment is bound to get into the water lines periodically.  In addition, there is sediment in some water supplies that's not harmful to drink, but can build up in the hot water tank over time.

Some sediment accumulations in the hot water heater is inevitable and nothing to be concerned about.  The problem is you often don't know there's too much sediment until the hot water tank quits working properly, which is why you should make a habit of checking and cleaning the tank in preparation for the winter months.  It's better to be safe rather than sorry and periodically clean hot water heater sediment by draining it out of the tank.

Clean Hot Water Heater

Whether you have a new or old tank, the same question can be asked.  How much sediment has accumulated?  If you have an old tank and haven't cleaned it for years, you may be surprised to find a significant amount of sediment in the bottom.  If you have a new tank, you need to clean it after the first year just to get an idea of how much sediment is in your water supply.

Also, if the water company ever notifies you the water lines are going to be cleaned or a major repair is going to be done, you might want to check the tank within the next month.  When the water company repairs water lines it's not unusual to find lots of sediment in the house water for a day or so afterwards.  In addition, in almost every area of the country, hot water will form calcium carbonate which is acts like sediment.  Eventually it can cause your water heater to stop working properly.

Learning how to clean hot water heater sediment is easy:  First turn off the power so you don't risk electrical shock or burn out your element.  Then turn off the cold water valve to the tank.  Attach a garden hose to the tank drain valve and then drain the hot water in the tank through the hose.  When the tank is drained, close the drain valve and open the cold water valve and you're ready to use the tank again. 

If you have a gas water heater it's recommended you turn the gas off while draining the tank for safety reasons.  Before you extinguish the pilot light though, make sure you know how to relight it. 

To clean hot water heater sediment from the tank is a household maintenance task you should do once a year.  At the same time you can check the condition of the element, look at the water you drain, and make sure the valves operate properly.  Taking care of your hot water tank will earn you years of carefree service.

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