How Often Should You Drain Your Electric Water Heater Tank?

June 2, 2019

Time will have its way. That’s an axiom that applies to everything, even electric water heaters. Over time, these appliances become less efficient. For natural wear problems, maintenance technicians do their best to extend tank life expectancy. They check and tune every system. But then there’s tank sediment, which can’t be fine-tuned. This heat attenuating mass needs to be flushed, and that draining procedure needs to be done regularly.

A Timely Tank Insulation Removal Solution

Once a year, as an electric water heater loses efficiency, its tank should be drained. The flushing procedure discharges the old water through a drain valve. As it gulps down through the discharge pipe, it’s caught by a bucket or a floor drain. The operation continues until all of the old water is emptied out of the heater tank. Essentially, that flushing action removes any foreign materials, which have likely accumulated on the bottom of the tank. Looking back, as that material gathered, it created an insulating layer, so the electrically powered unit couldn’t deliver all of its thermal energy to the stored water. Flushed out by the water, the insulating film ends up in a bucket or floor drain. Just by implementing this action once a year, substantial electricity savings are realized.

Halving the Flushing Period

Something’s wrong with an electric hot water heater. It’s consuming more power, not less. There’s a strange popping or bubbling noise coming from deep inside the unit, too. Somehow, the sediment has returned way too early. Because of the grains of dirt and minerals, hot water is percolating up through the dirty, grimy coating. Valves are clogging, limescale is spreading, and the hot water tank’s electric elements are failing. Somehow, there’s more sediment collecting in the tank, and the buildup problem is accelerating. When this scenario presents itself, tank drainage operations are done more often, perhaps as often as twice a year. Essentially, the local water supply is hard and mineral-loaded. Due to that fact, sediment problems occur more often.

While it’s true that there’s a generally accepted flushing schedule, that period will shrink if a property’s local water supply has sediment issues. Hard water problems can be filtered, of course, but let’s not just assume this is the case. With a cloudy buildup filling an electric water heater tank, the cloudy elements will begin to settle. They collect on the tank bottom, where they introduce that thermal insulating effect. With clean water, an annual flush will keep the sediment away. For hard water areas, though, bi-annual drainage procedures are carried out by cautious heating engineers.

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