Sediment in a Water Heater

Plumbing Solutions of Idaho expert tips

How often do you think about your water heater? Chances are, you often overlook this device–and that’s simply because the water heater isn’t as noticeable as other home machines. For example, you likely see your refrigerator every day. It would be pretty difficult to overlook a machine that sits in the middle of the kitchen! Similarly, most of us use the microwave, the dishwasher, the washer and dryer, the sinks, and the shower at least once a day; these home machines are crucial to our everyday lives, so we don’t often forget about them.

However, the water heater, while just as important, does its job subtly–we don’t often have to go directly to this machine to enjoy its benefits. Water heaters are responsible for so much of what we do, and they need special care, especially when it comes to a buildup of sediment.

Why Is My Water Heater Full of Sediment?

Water is full of natural minerals. When the water is heated, these minerals separate, drifting down to settle at the bottom of your water heater. While this isn’t an immediate problem, the sediment builds up over time and can eventually reduce the efficiency of the unit, damage the mechanics, and even ruin your water heater. Sediment is a natural part of the water heating process, and it will occur no matter what type of water heater you have and no matter what type of water you’re using. However, hard water, which contains more of these natural minerals, will cause a quicker and thicker buildup. Your water heater does a lot for you – it’s crucial that you take good care of it by clearing the sediment.

​Cleaning your Water Heater

Getting rid of sediment buildup is crucial, but different types of water heaters demand different types of care. Here’s a quick look!

  • Gas water heater. For a gas water heater, your first step is to turn off the cold water supply and the gas line. Wait about a half-hour, then drain your water heater using a garden hose; turn on the hot water at one or more of the faucets in your home and wait until draining stops at both the hose and the faucet. Next, disconnect the water line, place a funnel in the opening, and pour in specific amounts of water and cleaner depending on the size of the tank. Open the gas line, relight the pilot light, set the tank’s thermostat to 120 degrees Fahrenheit, and leave the solution for about two hours. Finally, drain the solution and run water through the tank with the drain valve open, then reset your water heater.
  • Electric water heater. If you have an electric water heater, you’ll first need to turn off the breaker and water supply, then wait about a half-hour. Drain the water heater using a garden hose; run hot water at a faucet in your home, waiting until draining stops from both the hose and the faucet. Next, turn on the cold water supply and run water through the unit–this will clear our sediment. Continue this until the hose drains clear water, then shut the drain valve, remove the hose, and allow your water heater an hour to warm up before using the hot water.
  • Call a plumber. If you have any trouble, notice something strange, find yourself in need of help, or have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call a plumber. Reliable, full-service plumbers can help you with any water heater problems, including sediment buildup, and they’d be more than happy to help care for the rest of your home’s plumbing, too!

Interested in more tips on water heater sediment buildup? Looking for Boise water heater care? Contact us today!

By Tim Smith

Published: January 11, 2016

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