Most manufacturers suggest that the water heater be flushed at least once a year. Failure to flush the water heater will lead to sediment and mineral accumulation. This will cause the water heater to fail prematurely and void the manufacturer’s warranty.

Although most manufacturers recommend flushing the tank annually, water with high mineral content (hard water) will require more frequent service. Water treatment devices (water softeners, carbon filtration systems, reverse osmosis systems, etc.) will decrease the rate at which minerals and sediment accumulate. However, these devices do not provide a fail-safe remedy.

Why should you be concerned with sediment and mineral accumulation?

Electric Water Heaters

In an electric water heater, mineral deposits form quickly upon the heating element(s) insulating the elements from the water. If ignored, the minerals will form clusters so large that they will not pass through the boiler drain. Eventually the tank becomes filled with these mineral clusters affecting the tank’s capacity and efficiency.

As this occurs, the heating element(s) will probably fail prior to the tank. Heating elements are activated by thermostats. As the heating elements become increasingly less efficient, the thermostat causes the elements to engage for longer durations. Over time, the elements will burn out which may result in the thermostat’s failure.

Gas Water Heaters

In a gas water heater, mineral deposits settle to the bottom of the tank. Gas fueled water heaters heat the water with a gas flame from a burner assembly beneath the tank. As the minerals accumulate at the bottom of the tank, they become an insulator between the heat source and the water. This decreases the water heater’s efficiency which may lead to the failure of the thermocoupler and burner assembly. More significantly, the bottom of the tank may become excessively hot which can stress it to the point of failure.

How is the water heater flushed?

Draining a water heater is different than flushing a water heater.

Please click here >>Flushing Procedure<< for a step by step tutorial.

What other maintenance should be performed on water heaters?

Temperature & Pressure Valve Inspection
Anode Rod Inspection
Dip Tube Inspection