If you’re the owner of a tank water heater, congratulations! You’re doubtlessly enjoying all the benefits of this low-maintenance water heater. However, that doesn’t mean these water heaters don’t come with their own problems. It’s only because they’re so low maintenance for most of the time that it might be easy to forget to flush the tank once per year.
Why Flush the Tank?
Because of sediment buildup! Unless you have a reverse osmosis water purifier installed, the water entering your home from the municipal water supply will be full of minerals. Depending on your region, the water may have more or less minerals—the more minerals in the water, the “harder” the water is considered.
This isn’t to say hard water is dangerous or harmful. However, these minerals eventually separate when heat is introduced, like in your water heater. The minerals then sink to the bottom of the water heater, creating sediment buildup.
Why Unflushed Sediments Are Bad
The layer of sediments will steadily grow over time. While it’s not a problem at first, a substantial layer of minerals will affect the performance of the water heater, which isn’t always harmless. Some of the problems you might encounter when there’s too much sediment include:
- Noises: Beneath the sediment, bubbles can begin to form. Combined with the heat, those bubbles can pop and make noise. It might sound like popping or crackling, and it can sometimes be loud enough to cause concern. Although the noise itself is harmless, it is an indication the sediment is substantial enough to trap heat. And this leads to higher energy bills and possibly damage to the tank.
- Higher Energy Bill: The new layer of sediment will form a barrier between the heating elements and the water, directly affecting the efficiency of the heater. It will take longer for the heater to reach the proper temperature, thus using up more energy than usual. The end result will be a higher energy bill at the end of the month.
- Damage to the Tank: In conjunction with the water taking longer to heat, this can increase the amount of pressure in the tank. Luckily, an automatic pressure release valve does exist to counteract this, but it’s better not to test out this valve by neglecting to flush the tank. Also, the heat trapped beneath the sediment can become so hot that it begins to corrode the lining of the tank. Once the tank springs a leak, there’s no option but to replace it.
What to Do Next
We won’t try to tell you that flushing the water heater is impossible for a homeowner—there are several DIY articles across the internet that explain how to do it.
However, if you’ve only just noticed you need to flush your water heater, then it would be a good opportunity to have your tank inspected by a pro plumber in Frisco, TX. The anode rod, pressure valves, and other components of the tank could be aged or in need of repair, and the average homeowner won’t be able to detect these things on their own.