Save Money-Drain Your Water Heater Regularly

So, we’ve lived in this house for 4 years and never actually got around to draining the water heater or having someone come in and do it.  It’s one of those things you just don’t think about–even though we know we have extremely hard water here in our village.

We called our village plumber and he came over to drain it and clean it out.  This is what his special shop vac thing looked like when he was done:

Yup–see all that goop?  That was FLAKES of calcium deposit from our water.  There were several INCHES of it in the vac.  The sediment had actually come up high enough to interfere with the heating element, which had then burned out.  The plumber said that the only reason we hadn’t been taking cold showers is we have a large water heater (80 gallons), so it has two heating elements, one at the top, one at the bottom.  The poor element at the top had been doing double time and sucking a lot of extra electricity trying to keep the whole 80 gallons warm. . .basically running nonstop.

And we HAVE noticed that the water is hotter now.

Keeping the various equipment that runs your home (think water heater, furnace, central AC etc) in good working condition with preventative maintenance is usually much less expensive than paying for repairs or replacements.   From now on we are going to make sure to drain (and flush) the water heater ourselves at least once a year (maybe twice would be better) to keep it from getting too bad.

This Old House has a video on How to Flush a Water Heater (they didn’t make it so I could embed it, so I’m just linking it here).  If you’ve never flushed it  you might want to consider having a professional do it the first time and then just take on the ongoing maintenance after that.  I don’t think we would have gotten all the crud out of ours if we had done it ourselves.

And by the way–if you have a water heater, then you always have some water stored in your home!  In the case of an emergency (think floods, hurricanes, blizzards etc)–it’s kind of nice to know that you’ve got a big old tank of water just sitting there in your basement.   Of course, it would be helpful if you had an idea of how to go about accessing that water BEFORE you are in a situation where you might need it. . .

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  1. says

    last year, early one morning, I woke up to the sound of gushing water in my closet. It turned out one of the pipes at the top of the hot water had split and was gushing water all over the place. We turned off the water and waited impatiently for the plumber to come on Monday (getting him here over the weekend would have been $400.00 — waiting til Monday meant the bill was ‘only’ $90.00. You never know how much you rely on water until you don’t have any. And I still haven’t gotten around to replacing all the carpeting in that closet and the master bathroom (the master bathroom will probably not get carpeted again; I am thinking of laying a heated floor system with tile over it).

    • says

      What an awful thing to have happen Suellen! And you are right–Water is one of those things we don’t think about but not having it makes life very difficult. When I look at the number of natural disasters that have happened in the last year leaving people without water in their homes for some period of time–well, it just makes you realized that it really IS important to have some stored.

  2. says

    Just as we may think that water is everywhere, we should think twice. There are instances that there were not enough water in our faucet. Having an water heater in our home is an advantage and it can also be used for emergency purposes. Moreover, we should take seriously the idea of our water heaters to be checked at least once a year.


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