I have not flushed my water heaters since they were installed 10 years ago.
Thought this might be a good time to do it. The heaters are doing fine.
I googled for this subject and was instructed to turn off the gas and the
cold water inlet valve, open the pressure valve, connect the hose and open
the bottom valve..
Is all this commotion really necessary? Why can't I just turn the gas down
to "Pilot", connect a garden hose to the valve at the bottom of the heater,
and open the valve?
You may not want to do it at all. After ten years of non-use that
outlet valve may not be in any condition to open and then re-close properly.
You would not be the first one to end up replacing that valve.
Some areas have water that makes flushing important for long life, many
don't need to do it. After ten years, if you need it, it is really too late
to do a lot of good.
Other than the possible problem with the valve, it should not hurt.
Now about your question. It would be best to shut it down, but leaving
the pilot on should not really cause any problems.
There are two ways of doing it. If you were to do it more often than
every ten years, like once a month, you don't need to empty the tank, just
connect a hose to the outlet and drain for a few minutes. That should do
it. After ten years or even one year the procedure you have is not a bad
Again, I doubt if I would do it after ten years of not doing it.
Probably more of interest to you would be the ionic protection rod-
replacing same. Sometimes referred to as zinc rod- though magnesium
I'd check with neighbors and find out life-expectancy of heater with
your local water-quality. If less than 12 yrs., simplest plan for you
would be to replace the heater in a year or two. Before it fails.
And they're not very durable valves. I always replace mine with a
proper brass valve in a plastic reducing nipple (for galvanic
isolation). I keep a short hose on it for filling the car wash
The original valves have barely lasted a year before beginning to leak
with monthly opening.
Also, on flushing. There is not enough cross flow across the bottom
of the tank to wach the sediment out . I tried it once, before
replacign a heater. After disconnecting the inlet and outlet pipes, I
took a look inside with a light, and saw a small clean area around the
dip tube where the incoming water had blown the sediment aside, and
another small area near the faucet port, where the water flow was fast
enough to move the stuff out.
The only way to get a complete flush would be to disconnect the
heater, remove the faucet, tip it so the port is facing down, insert a
spray tube through the inlet (and outlet) and hose off the bottom of
the tank, flushing all the stuff to the down-facing outlet.
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