Is your water heater creating rumbling or popping noises from the tank or producing hot water with a rusty look and an awful smell? Maybe your water heater already has substantial sediment buildup. However, it’s not a problem if you know how to remove sediment from water heater.
Sediment buildup can produce many signs, including zero hot water output, rumbling noises, and fluctuating water temperatures. Fortunately, draining and flushing the water heater isn’t complicated. I’ll describe the steps.
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Things You’ll Need for This Guide
Removing sediments from a hot water tank is a breeze if you have the correct tools and materials. Thankfully, there aren’t many items you’ll need for this DIY activity.
1. Shop Vacuum
I recommend getting a shop vacuum for this activity because draining alone will not eliminate sediments from your hot water tank. It’s often necessary to apply suction to remove all debris and particles remaining after draining.
While it’s tempting to use your ordinary household vacuum cleaner, its suction power might be insufficient to pull debris from the tank’s bottom. That’s why I suggest getting a shop vacuum. Instead of buying, most people I know would rather borrow from an acquaintance or even rent one.
It would also be wise to get a shop vacuum adapter to connect the machine to your hot water tank’s TPR and drain ports.
2. Other Tools and Materials
It’s essential to have an adjustable wrench, garden hose with an adapter, a large bucket, and rags for this activity. If you don’t have a large water container, you can use several small buckets. You can also prepare Teflon or plumber’s tape to ensure a leak-proof fit between connections.
Knee pads might come in handy because you’ll be handling the drain port at the hot water tank’s bottom. You might also need a step ladder to manipulate the cold water inlet valve at the top.
Steps for Removing Debris, Sediment, and Other Particles from a Water Heater
Step 1. Shut off the hot water tank’s power and cold water supply.
Removing water heater sediment starts with cutting off the power and water supplies to the hot water tank.
You can switch off the circuit breaker supplying electricity to an electric water heater at your home’s electrical distribution panel. If your water heater relies on propane or natural gas, it would be best to shut off the gas supply valve and twist the thermostat to the pilot setting.
Follow the water supply line from your hot water tank’s top section, and look for a valve. Close this to prevent water from entering the tank before you drain sediment from the water heater.
Step 2. Don’t flush a hot water heater. Let it cool first.
It’s unsafe to drain sediment from hot water heater with the water still hot. Unfortunately, if you can’t wait to drain and flush a water heater, you risk burning yourself. Although 140 degrees might not seem like much, it will still hurt.
Step 3. Connect a garden hose or a similar device to the hot water tank’s drain port.
Check your hot water tank’s bottom section, and look for a drain port with a valve. Get a garden hose and connect one end to the drain port. You can use an adapter if the drain port’s diameter is different from your garden hose’s dimensions.
Ensure a tight-fitting connection to avoid leaks. You don’t want to create a mess in your basement while draining and flushing your water heater.
Pro Tip: You can wrap Teflon around the connector threads to ensure a leak-proof fit.
Step 4. Place the hose’s other end over a floor drain or a large bucket.
Extend your garden hose as straight as possible, avoiding any kinks. Place the flexible tube’s other end over a floor drain if you have one in the house.
Alternatively, you can place the hose’s end in a large container. It would be best to use a container with a larger capacity than your hot water tank. If this is impossible, you can prepare several buckets to accommodate the water draining from the tank.
Step 5. Open several hot water faucets.
Although you can skip this step, I still recommend this procedure to relieve pressure from the hot water tank. It would be best to open at least two hot water faucets, one near the hot water tank and another in a room higher than the water heater.
Opening water faucets also prevent vacuum formation within the water lines. Don’t worry about losing water because you closed the main water valve supplying the hot water tank.
Step 6. Open the hot water tank’s drain valve to release the water.
You’re now ready to get the sediment out of the water heater. Turn on the hot water tank’s drain valve to release the water. The process can take at least 15 minutes to complete. You can expect this step to be longer if you have a large-capacity hot water tank.
I suggest monitoring the drainage, especially when using several buckets to collect the water. Note the water flow, ensuring it’s consistent. You might notice specks on the bucket indicating sediments and other bank deposits.
I found this video from Charles Clinger or CRC Plumbing showing folks how to drain a storage-tank water heater.
Step 7. Connect the shop vacuum adapter and suck the sediments out.
Draining the water from a hot water tank doesn’t remove all sediments and other deposits. That’s why you’ll need to suck the particles out of the tank. It’s the only way to clean sediment from the water heater thoroughly.
Close the hot water tank’s drain valve and all hot water faucets. Get an adjustable wrench and loosen and remove the water heater’s temperature and pressure (T&P) release valve. Use your wrench to secure a shop vacuum adapter into the T&P port.
Connect the shop vacuum’s hose to the adapter and turn on the machine. This step will suck up almost everything inside the hot water tank, including sediment.
Step 8. Flush the hot water tank.
If you’re wondering how to dissolve sediment in the water heater, a combination of draining, vacuuming, and flushing is the best technique.
Loosen and remove the shop vacuum adapter from the T&P port and reinstall the T&P valve. Open the cold water valve to fill and flush the hot water tank. Turn on the hot water tank’s drain valve to empty the water.
Watch the water draining from the hot water tank. It might look reddish or brownish, depending on the severity of sediment buildup. Continue flushing the hot water tank until you notice the water flow is crystal clear.
Pro Tip: Plumbers recommend opening the inlet water valve in short bursts to force sediments and other debris toward the drain port.
Step 9. Suck out sediments from the drain port.
Close the cold water supply valve and turn off the drain valve. Disconnect the garden hose from the hot water tank’s drain port, and install a shop vacuum adapter.
Connect the adapter to the shop vacuum’s hose, and turn on the machine to suck out the remaining sediments in the drain port.
Remove the vacuum adapter once you’re done.
Here’s an exciting video by AmplifyDIY showing people the process of removing sediments from a water heater through flushing.
Step 10. Refill the tank and reestablish power to the water heater.
Put back the TPR valve. Additionally, turn on the inlet water valve. Wait a few minutes before powering up the unit by switching on the circuit breaker or turning on the gas supply valve.
It should take several minutes to fill the tank and up to 30 minutes to reach the ideal water temperature.
Learning how to remove sediment from water heater isn’t complicated if you follow these steps. It’s wise to remember that draining the water alone isn’t sufficient to remove debris. You also need to vacuum and flush the system to eliminate any particles inside the hot water tank.
I hope this tutorial made you more confident in maintaining your storage-tank water heater. If so, I’d like to ask you to share this guide with friends and acquaintances. I am also more than willing to answer any questions or feedback.
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