Category Archives: Plumbing Tips

Tips and advice from MyPlumberinMemphis, Alan Wilson at A&K Plumbing Company.

Should I Flush My Water Heater and How Often Should I Drain It?

Should I Flush My Water Heater and How Often Should I Drain It?

Your water heater is one of those appliances that is easy to take for granted. It’s out of sight, out of mind, and can do its job for years on end without any maintenance at all. You might only think of it when something goes wrong. However, like most appliances, water heaters require periodic maintenance in order to maximize energy-efficiency and extend the lifespan of the unit. A neglected water heater may keep hot water flowing for a few years but will gradually cause your utility bills to creep higher and eventually it will fail altogether.

The best way to protect your investment is to have your water heater serviced annually by a licensed plumber. A good plumber will conduct a full inspection for rust, leaks and other problems, test the thermostat and valves, replace the anode rod to prevent corrosion and flush the tank. 

Periodically flushing out the lime and other sediments in the water heater tank improves the heater’s efficiency and lifespan. In neglected water heaters, sediment can accumulate and calcify, making it difficult to remove. This can get so bad that the entire unit may need to be replaced. But if you flush your tank regularly, you can prevent sediment from causing problems.

All water has some degree of mineral content. If you live in an area with lots of limestone beneath the ground, the groundwater will pick up calcium and magnesium deposits, resulting in “hard” water. Hard water creates sediment in the form of lime scale that settles out of the water and builds up at the bottom of your water heater. With natural gas heaters, it can cause uneven heating on the tank that eventually causes leaks. With electric heaters, scaling can burn out the lower heating element. And in both, sediment buildup can clog the drain valve.

The frequency with which to flush a water heater depends on the size of the tank and the amount of hot water used. It is a good idea to refer to the manufacturer’s instructions. Usually, the more hot water a household uses, the greater the maintenance flushing frequency.

With time, water heater sludge accumulates at the bottom of a tank as minerals, sediment and other deposits settle in the water. Flushing out these deposits prolongs the heater’s life and prevents malfunctions, such as cold burst of water.

If you don’t have access to the manufacturer’s instructions, the following serves as a general guide:

One or two people in a home: Inspect the water heater every six months and drain it every 12 months

Three to five people in a home: Inspect the water heater every four months and drain it every eight months

Six or more people in a home: Inspect the water heater every four months and drain it every six months

You may need to drain the hot water tank more often if your water comes from a well or if your municipal water has abnormally high sediment content.

How a Water Pressure Regulator Works

Let’s talk about Water Pressure

A water pressure regulator (sometimes called a pressure-reducing valve, or PRV) is a specialized plumbing valve that reduces the water pressure coming into the home through the main water line.  This valve brings down the pressure to a safe level before the water reaches any plumbing fixtures inside the home.  Too much water pressure can cause many plumbing problems, so it is very important to keep the water pressure under control.  Although it is not necessary for every plumbing installation, a water pressure regulator can be essential in situations where the municipal water supply enters the home at a very high pressure, or where water pressure is irregular.

Most plumbing fixtures are designed to work best at a pressure of about 50 psi (pounds per square inch), but it is not uncommon for municipal water supplies to enter the home with pressure as high as 150 or 200 psi.  If such high pressures are present on a regular basis, the strain can eventually cause joints to fail, faucets and other fixtures to leak, and appliances to break down.  Clothes washers, dishwashers, and some other household appliances have built-in pressure regulators, but a whole house water pressure regulator still offers protection to those appliances, and it also serves to protect all the pipes and fixtures throughout the house.

Remember that too much water pressure will put extra strain on the home’s plumbing systems and can cause toilets to run, faucets to drip, water hammer to occur in the walls, and it can even cause burst pipes that can flood your house.

Do you need a pressure regulator valve?

A massive stream of water might seem like a great thing in your home – but not only is that high-pressure wasteful, it could be costing you money, too.  Think about water pressure in your home the same way you think about your blood pressure.  The higher the pressure, the higher the chances of problems down the line.

So, what are the benefits of getting your water pressure in check?

  1.  A pressure regulator valve may be needed to save water.  If the water pressure level coming into your home from the city exceeds 80 psi, you need a water pressure regulator.  Reducing the system pressure 10 to 20 psi can save thousands of gallons a year in the typical home. 
  2. Better for fixtures and appliances.  High water pressure puts a strain on every part of the appliance that delivers water.  The steady, regulated stream of water will prolong the life of your appliances and allow them to work at their best.
  3. Saves money. The installation might seem like an extra cost, but it’s one that will quickly pay off.  Your water bill will reduce, and you can even see a decrease in your energy usage, with fewer repairs on your appliances, too. 
  4. Stabilizes pressure. With steady pressure, you can have a more relaxing shower experience and will not have to worry about soaking yourself while washing the dishes.  A pressure regulator valve can accomplish this controlling the amount of pressure in coming into the home.
  5. Reduces risk of leaks. Unnecessary high pressure is not suitable for your pipes; the heavy flow can cause hairline cracks and leaks, eventually leading to a big pipe blow out.  Water leaks will do extreme damage to your home, often requiring major construction restoration to damaged floors, cabinets, drywall and surrounding areas – not to mention mold.  To reduce your chance of having a major plumbing disaster – you’ll want to get your water pressure regulated fast.