How to Flush Your Water Heater

How To Flush a Water Heater - Step-By-Step DIY Water Heater Maintenance.

By learning How to flush your water heater, you can benefit from removing harmful sediment and increase energy efficiency while expanding the lifetime duration of your water heater.

A Hot Water Heater is a vital part of any home, but it can also be a source of problems if it’s not properly maintained. 

And besides losing efficiency, if you need to replace a water heater, installing a new one, on average, costs between $900 and $1,200. 

One of your most important home maintenance projects is keeping your water heater in good working order and remembering to flush it once a year.

Tools Required to Flush Water Heater

  • Bucket
  • Garden Hose (shorter the better)
  • Rags

Critical Reasons to Flush a Hot Water Heater:

If it’s been a while, or you have never drained your water heater and flushed it clean, you may be surprised how much sediment is in there. Here’s a photo of sediment drained from a water heater:

water heater sediment photo
Water Heater Sediment – Best Home Gear

We recommend a 1-year cycle to maintain a low or sediment-free water heater for draining water heaters.

Signs that you may have excess sediment can include popping sounds or gurgling, which is the sound of bubbles escaping heavy concentrations of sediment in the bottom of the water heater.

Gas water heater sediment can create hot spots that can damage your tank, and excess Electric water heater sediment will eventually lead to a damaged lower heat element.

How to Flush Your Water Heater:

See the 14 Steps Below on How to Flush a Water Heater – And don’t be Intimidated.  These steps are relatively simple and quick, with an average of 30 – 45 minutes to flush a water heater.

1.  Turn OFF the Power to Your Water Heater.

Critical – Disconnect the electrical power by flipping a switch or knob on the water heater. If you’re unsure the power is disconnected, err on safety. Head to your electrical panel and turn off the breaker connected to the water heater.

Off switch on Hot Water Heater
The Water Heater Off Setting on Knob –

2. Turn off the Cold Water Supply to your Water Heater.

hot and cold water valve on water heater
Cold water (Blue) shut-off valve –

This is done by turning the cold water valve (blue) off. Follow the cold water supply pipe above the water heater to the top of the water heater.

3. Turn the Gas Valve OFF

If you have a Gas Water Heater, Turn the Gas valve off, which is located just above the Water Heater.

4. Open a Hot Water Faucet in your Home.

Leaving a hot water faucet Open on the upper level of your home is the first step in allowing you to drain the hot water from the water heater.

5. Locate the “Drain Valve” on your Water Heater

drain valve on water heater
Drain Valve to Drain Water Heater – Best Home Gear.

The drain valve on any Hot Water Heater is located near the bottom of the water heater.

6. Connect a Garden Hose to the Drain Valve.

connecting garden hose to water heater drain valve
Connecting Garden Hose to Drain Valve

After connecting a short garden hose to the drain valve, place the other end directly above a nearby floor drain or into a 5-gallon bucket.

7. Open the Drain Valve

This will allow the water from the heater to drain out and into the floor drain or bucket. 

8. Let the water drain by gravity until it Runs Clear.

It may take several minutes to 30 minutes for the water heater to drain by gravity as there is no pressure applied yet.

10. Turn on the Cold water supply to your Hot Water Heater.

Once the water has appeared to run clear, Turn the Cold Water Supply on slowly and let it run until no more sediment is collected.

Once the water is completely clear, use a shallow white bowl or dish to see if there is any sediment in the dish. 

9. Turn off Drain Valve.

Once the water has been drained and flushed completely, Close the Drain Valve and disconnect the garden hose from the drain valve.

11. Turn ON the Electrical power to your water heater.

13. Close the “Open” Hot Water Faucet

Close the faucet that was previously opened inside the home.

14. Test your home’s hot water to ensure it’s working correctly.

If you are a Visual Learner (like me:), Here is a Video that follows our Step-By-Step Instructions on How To Flush A Water Heater.


How To Maintain a Hot Water Heater

Here are some tips on how to maintain your water heater:

Flush the tank annually

As noted in the detailed information above, flushing a water heater will remove sediment that can build up over time and reduce efficiency.

To flush the tank, follow the instructions above – step-by-step

Check the Thermostat and Temperature Relief Valve Annually.

The thermostat should be set to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalding. The temperature relief valve should be tested by lifting the lever. If water does not flow, the valve needs to be replaced.

Inspect the Anode Rod annually.

The anode rod helps to protect the tank from corrosion. If the rod is corroded, it needs to be replaced.

Insulate the tank.

This will help to keep the water hot and save energy.

Clean the exterior of the tank regularly.

This will help to prevent rust and corrosion. Call a plumber if you notice any Rust problems.

Also, If your water heater is leaking, not heating water properly, or making strange noises, call a plumber to repair or replace it.

Annual Maintenance For a Water Heater:

We recommend Flushing your water heater at least once yearly, depending on the heater’s age and water quality in your home.

Flushing your water heater is a simple task that can help extend your heater’s life and improve its performance.

Here are some Additional Tips for flushing your water heater:

* If you have a gas water heater, turn off the gas supply to the heater before you start flushing.
* If you have a sediment trap on your water heater, flush the trap before you flush the heater itself.
* If you have hard water, you may need to flush your water heater more often.
* Call a plumber if you are concerned about flushing your water heater.

These simple tips will keep your water heater free of sediment and in good working order for many years.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What Happens During a Water Heater Flush?

Flushing a Water Heater is as much as it sounds; The water and sediment from your water heater are drained through a garden hose attachment and into a floor drain.

The water heater is then flushed with cold water to remove/flush any remaining sediment.  Once those two steps are completed, the water heater is refilled with clean hot water.

How long does it take to flush a water heater?

Completing a water heater flush takes 30 – 60 minutes, depending on your DIY Skills and tank size.

How Much Do Plumbers Charge to Flush a Water Heater?

Plumbing service varies by region, but most plumbers start with a trip charge of $70-$90, including the first 30 minutes of labor, and charge $50-$70 every 15-30 minutes after that.

How Often Should You Flush a Water Heater?

If you have normal, treated city water, we recommend flushing the water heater once a year.  However, if you have Hard water or water with a lot of minerals, you should flush it every six months.

Additional Reading and References:

Kevin Carroll
Kevin Carroll
Kevin is the author and editor for Best Home Gear, and uses his 25+ years experience in Commercial and Residential Construction Management to author and publish the work for this website. In addition to publishing Best Home Gear; Kevin enjoys the outdoors in Michigan and Arizona, hiking, cycling, fishing, golf, and completing DIY projects at his Home and Garden.


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Author and Publisher for Best Home Gear

Kevin is the Author, and Publisher @ Best Home Gear, which he began In 2018.

As a Professional in Construction, Real Estate and Property Management, Kevin uses that experience to publish Useful Articles, and help homeowners improve (DIY) their own homes, lawns, and outdoor spaces.

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