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Plumbing in the Home/Draining/Flushing Hot Water Heater

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Question
I have read that hot water heaters should be drained and flushed every 1-3 years. My husband and I are renting a home that has been vacant for at least several months prior to our moving in, and we don't know when it was last drained/flushed. We have well water, so my question is, how often would you recommend we drain/flush our hot water heater and should we worry about doing so sooner rather than later? I am more concerned about the fact that we have well water and imagine that sediment and mineral deposit might be worse in a home with well water than a home on city water.

Answer
Shawna,
In the forty years that I have been in this business I have seen my share of water heater problems and failures. I have seen heater that were flushed religiously and others that have been virtually ignored. I have seen heaters fail that were a couple years old  and some go 20 plus years. My recommendation to customers has been to leave it alone. The convex bottom of the heaters will not allow you to efficiently remove sediment from the heater enough to make a difference. I would leave it alone for a few months and see if you notice the tank percolating when the burner is firing. If not, don't worry about it. If it is then you could drain the tank , remove the drain valve and attempt to remove some of the sediment. If it were me I would just use it as it is and not touch it  until it begins to leak.  Then call the landlord.

Plumbing in the Home

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Jay Nicholas

Expertise

Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)

Experience

40 years in the business, 35 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Education/Credentials
Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

Past/Present Clients
Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

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