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Conventional gas water heaters with a tank. Do you flush them once or twice a year to maintain them, keep them in good order, and get longer life, or is it a bunch of crap and is just an up-sell opportunity? As far as I know the industry professions all say it is vitally important to flush twice a year. But I know a fella who recently told me that I should never flush my water heater because it wears it out faster.
 

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Conventional gas water heaters with a tank. Do you flush them once or twice a year to maintain them, keep them in good order, and get longer life, or is it a bunch of crap and is just an up-sell opportunity? As far as I know the industry professions all say it is vitally important to flush twice a year. But I know a fella who recently told me that I should never flush my water heater because it wears it out faster.
I don't know your answer but would be interested in knowing how flushing would cause wear on the heater. Ask that feller and see what he says about it.
 

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I couldn't get a real straight answer to that either. Something about exposing the scale that had formed on the heating elements or something.
 

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Gee, thought this was going to be about another topic. Thinking about it, not sure why I even opened the thread. But my input was going to be, flush after each use.
 

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Gee, thought this was going to be about another topic. Thinking about it, not sure why I even opened the thread. But my input was going to be, flush after each use.
Haven't you ever seen the sign posted in any facility bathroom tied to an iffy septic system, or durin droughts?.....
"If it is yellow, let it mellow. If it is brown, flush it down." Hee, hee. Toilet humor. I need to go to bed now.....
 

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Draining the tank will reduce the amount of sediment buildup in the bottom. That won't hurt anything and you can do that yourself with a garden hose.

"Scale" (mineral deposits) probably won't come off by draining the tank and filling it with clean water - you'd need to add acid to do that. Keeping the scale cleaned off will help with efficiency.

Often times in hard water areas, on-demand water heaters will have a system built onto it that will periodically circulate acid through the coils - for the same reason you run vinegar through your coffee maker.

I'm going to say you'll not likely shorten the life of your water heater.

One thing you can do is take several powerful magnets and tape them two or three inches apart to the outside of the incoming water line. Depending on your water, that will make (harmless) changes in the water that will likely cause some of the scale to loosen. You'll see it when you take water from a faucet. The scale that is loosened can also clog things with a filter screen, such as a shower head.
 

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I’m on rural water and it’s extremely hard, very high iron and magnesium. Water heaters go out around here all the time and faucets and valves become clogged up. Here at the house we are on our 3rd hot water heater in the 15 years we’ve lived in it. Unbelievable how heavy they get after all the scale and hard water deposits build up in them. I installed a water softener and now flush my tank every 3 to 4 months. It has helped some but still get quite a bit of hard water deposits when draining.


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Most modern hot water heaters are "self cleaning". They fill through a tube that goes all the way to the bottom and keeps the sediment stirred up so it can go on the plug your faucets instead. I never drain them. Just had a twenty year old heater replaced. It was still working fine, but, I had a boiler being replaced and decided to do that at the same time.
 

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I was told by a plumber to drain it once-twice a year as that will help remove the sediment from the bottom and help keep the bottom from rotting out? But I just had to replace my 7 year old unit, as the control module that is almost as expensive as a whole new unit, went out....
 

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It has helped some but still get quite a bit of hard water deposits when draining.
How much sediment actually comes out of your tank when you drain it?

I've tried draining several Cold Water Heaters down here. The amount of sediment that was actually removed was not worth the time of day to do it. Much less have to pay someone to do it. So I stopped doing them years ago. The way I've heard it is that the sediment settles to the bottom and starts to slowly rises up. Once this sediment rises up to the bottom heating element it shorts out the heaters. Unit is toast. But, in the time it takes to do this everything else in the heater is at its designed end of life span. This is why Cold Water Heaters have a limited life span to start with. They have the know-it-all to build a Heater that would last 20 plus years. But the majority of them today would burn out in 6-8 years because of the sediment anyway. This is why they are designed to last only this long today. The mineral deposits here in South Florida are pretty bad as well. If you forget to turn off the electricity to the heater (before you drain it) you will burn up heat elements as well, when you drain the tank. I say its best to just leave it alone and replace it as needed. Trying to remove the sediment will shorten the life span anyway to some degree, the unit is not designed for much longer life to start with. So why bother? break em all Jeff
 

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It is a waste of time, #1 on the back side of the valve you attach the hose to is a crisscross obstruction so you can pull the valve out and turn it counterclockwise to remove the valve so what ever you are trying to flush is only going to plug up the stream if there is anything worth flushing

I have been dealing with water heaters for quite a while, and like Murphy wrote about the hard water, when ever I ran into a failure because of hard water the bid was to replace the old heater, you deal with getting it out of the basement, damned thing would weigh a ton, well maybe not a ton but close to 1000 lbs. But even though there is the sediment it actually provides somewhat a flywheel effect, the sediment is hot so it heats the incoming water faster then the elements, so it can actually speed up the recovery
 
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Discussion Starter #17
"Tanks" for all the inputs. The conflict with flushing that caused me to post the thread is the question of, are the industry professionals giving me advice that keeps me constantly needing them, or does it honestly help? In the age of planned obsolescence and savvy marketing techniques you just never know what to believe anymore. Nobody seems to repair appliances anymore. Everything gets replaced. But while they are at your house replacing it they also try to up-sell you service package a long with it. Or sell you an extended warranty which basically costs the same as the worn out part you will need to replace in that time frame, less the cost of labor of course. It all seems to be a big lie.
 

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you deal with getting it out of the basement, damned thing would weigh a ton
I never even thought of that factor!!! Living in S. Florida for as long as I have, we have no basements. Trying to drain a hot water heater that is in your basement would be more difficult to say the least. You can't let any heavy sediment go down you basements drain, or you'll run the risk of clogging up your drain line. Mmm Really not worth the trouble. At least here in Florida I just run the hose down the driveway (gravity working for me) and I can see what's what, and how much sediment was removed easily. break em all Jeff
 

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"Tanks" for all the inputs. The conflict with flushing that caused me to post the thread is the question of, are the industry professionals giving me advice that keeps me constantly needing them, or does it honestly help? In the age of planned obsolescence and savvy marketing techniques you just never know what to believe anymore. Nobody seems to repair appliances anymore. Everything gets replaced. But while they are at your house replacing it they also try to up-sell you service package a long with it. Or sell you an extended warranty which basically costs the same as the worn out part you will need to replace in that time frame, less the cost of labor of course. It all seems to be a big lie.

Many moons ago, about 30+ years, State Water heaters were a family owned bidness, might still be but I doubt it.

I was working for a big mechanical contractor in Dallas and State put on a info party, back in the days when there was always a keg of beer for such events. I remember the instructor telling us that they made water heaters for specific regions and if an area had real hard or other minerals in the water they would ship heaters with hand holes so you could take a plate off and manually clean the sediment out, then bolt it back together. I have never seen one, but he said it was so they could make sure the tank lasted for the warranty period

After that they started making the dip tube so it would shoot the water into the tank tangentially, so it would swirl and help keep the sediments in suspension, not real sure how good that worked out though

I do recall they changed the plastic on the dip tubes and they started to disintegrate so we were replacing dip tubes for a few years under warranty
 

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How much sediment actually comes out of your tank when you drain it?

I've tried draining several Cold Water Heaters down here. The amount of sediment that was actually removed was not worth the time of day to do it. Much less have to pay someone to do it. So I stopped doing them years ago. The way I've heard it is that the sediment settles to the bottom and starts to slowly rises up. Once this sediment rises up to the bottom heating element it shorts out the heaters. Unit is toast. But, in the time it takes to do this everything else in the heater is at its designed end of life span. This is why Cold Water Heaters have a limited life span to start with. They have the know-it-all to build a Heater that would last 20 plus years. But the majority of them today would burn out in 6-8 years because of the sediment anyway. This is why they are designed to last only this long today. The mineral deposits here in South Florida are pretty bad as well. If you forget to turn off the electricity to the heater (before you drain it) you will burn up heat elements as well, when you drain the tank. I say its best to just leave it alone and replace it as needed. Trying to remove the sediment will shorten the life span anyway to some degree, the unit is not designed for much longer life to start with. So why bother? break em all Jeff
I’d say approximately a gallon of sediment out of a 90 gallon tank.


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