know when to flush your water heater, let a certified plumber help

We depend on our water heaters to keep our water warm to shower, wash dishes, cook, and many more things. So, when your water heater doesn’t function properly, it can be a huge inconvenience.

That’s why our plumbers at Plumbing by Jake are here to help explain when you need to flush your water heater and how to do so. We’ll discuss the steps below, but our team of passionate plumbing experts can also flush your water heater for you.

Signs You Should Flush Your Water Heater

Knowing when to flush your water heater requires being able to spot the signs that your water heater needs flushing. You may need to flush your water heater if you notice:

Lack of Hot Water

If you notice that you don’t have any hot water when you go to shower or wash dishes, it’s likely that your water heater needs to be flushed. Sediment buildup or a bad burner could be the reason you don’t have access to hot water.  

If your water heater is just clogged with sediment, flushing your water will do the trick. But if it’s a fault burner, you may need the help of one of our plumbers. 


Another way to know that your water heater needs flushing is if there are weird odors coming from your water heater. Odors often signal that there are bacteria in your heater’s tank. 

By doing a water heater flush, you can clear out your tank and get rid of any bacteria in it. Once the bacteria is gone, your heater won’t emit odor anymore.

Rust-Colored Water

Rusty-colored water is also a sign that you need to flush your water heater. The cause of the rust-colored water is a bad anode rod. 

The anode rod is responsible for keeping your water heater functioning properly and helps prevent corrosion. However, when the rod itself begins to rust, it needs to be replaced.

If you have any of these problems with your water heater, it’s time for your water heater to be flushed. We’ll explain how to do it yourself or if you want, one of our plumbers can flush your water heater. Calling a professional is a good idea if you’ve never done it before. We’ll explain the process when we arrive so that you’ll know how to flush it next time. 

How do I Flush My Water Heater?

So, now that you know the signs to look for, we’re going to discuss how you can easily flush your water heater. By flushing your water heater, you can eliminate all the above-mentioned problems. To flush your water heater, follow these steps: 

Turn Off Water Heater and Water Supply

To turn off the hot water heater, find the cold-water supply valve and turn it off. On most water heaters, the cold-water supply valve is on the top of the heater. You should see a water pipe and then the shut-off valve that extends into the heater. Turn the valve to shut off. 

If you have a gas water heater, you can turn the thermostat to pilot. And if you have an electric water heater, you can shut it off via your home’s electrical panel. To be safe, you should stay in the proximity of your water heater as it cools down to make sure there are no issues. 

Connect the Garden Hose

The next thing you should do is get your garden hose and place one end of it into the floor drain or outside of your home if it’s long enough. Then, take the other end of the hose and attach it to the drain valve at the bottom of your water heater. 

It doesn’t matter what type of hose you use for this; if a garden hose is all you have, that will work fine. If you want to make the process a bit easier, you can buy a longer hose to avoid any tension issues. 

Run Hot Water

Once you have connected the hose, open the hot water tap that’s near the water heater. By doing this, you’ll relieve any pressure that has built up, and it will help the heater drain faster. 

When you open the hot water valve, water from the heater will come flowing out of the tank. If there is a lot of sediment or if the tank is full, it could take a while for the water heater to drain fully.  

Turn the Water Supply Back On

While the drain valve is still open, turn the cold water back on to flush the tank. This will help wash out any remaining sediment in the tank. 

You should repeat this process until the water is no longer rust-colored and it runs clear. If your water takes a while to run clear, it may be a more severe issue that one of our plumbers can help you diagnose and fix. 

Close the Drain Valve and Turn on the Water Heater

You are almost done draining your water heater. Now that it’s drained, you can close the drain valve and remove the garden hose. You should check to ensure that the cold-water supply valve is switched on so that your tank can refill.

Once cold water starts to run, turn off the hot water tap. If you have a gas water heater, turn on the gas, and if your water heater is electric, you can turn on the switch in your breaker box. If there are no leaks, you’ve successfully flushed your water heater.

How Often Should I Flush My Water Heater?

You should flush your water heater two times per year. The best seasons to do this are spring and fall. This gives an ample amount of time between flushes, and the weather in these seasons will also make it easier to flush it.  

If you live in an area where the water is especially hard, like Arizona, we recommend that you flush out your water heater every four to six months. Due to the water’s hardness, there will be more buildup in a shorter amount of time. 

If you regularly flush your water heater but you notice that you are still having issues with rust-colored water and a smelly water heater, one of our plumbing experts can help. We’ll inspect your tank and fix any issues that we find. 

What Happens if I don’t Flush My Water Heater?

If you don’t flush your water heater, the amount of buildup of sediment and minerals will increase and negatively affect your water supply even further. The longer these minerals sit, the higher the impact they will have on your water heater. They can eventually cause scaling at the bottom of the tank of your water heater, which can cause significant problems. 

One of the issues that scaling can cause is the reduced functioning of your water heater. This will lead to more cold showers and water that appears rustier due to the high concentration of minerals. Also, when you have more rust in your water, it can endanger your health when you consume it or if it makes contact with your skin.  

Corrosion of your water heater tank is another thing that can happen when you don’t regularly flush your water tank and allow scaling to develop. Minerals and sediment can build up just like they do with scaling. But corrosion goes deeper and usually results in damaging the tank’s structural integrity. 

The last issue, and the one that’s most dangerous that can occur if you don’t flush your water heater, is a buildup of pressure. Every water tank has a pressure-relief valve that keeps pressure low and prevents your water heater from exploding. But blockages from scaling in your tank can block this potentially life-saving valve, and explosions can occur.

Contact Plumbing by Jake for Water Heater Maintenance

If you’re having issues with your water heater, such as odors and a lack of hot water, it needs to be flushed. If you are confident to do so on your own, that’s great, and we’ll be available to answer any questions you may have. But if you don’t feel comfortable doing so, one of our friendly plumbers at Plumbing by Jake can flush your water heater. 

We also offer an annual home plumbing maintenance plan that includes water heater flushing, among many other plumbing needs that you can order. If you’re interested in this service or you want to schedule service for your water heater, give us a call or fill out the contact form on your website.