Over time, a water heater builds up sediment. It is strongly recommended that you flush the heater every six months to prevent this buildup. If it is not removed, it can cause damage to the unit.
Gas Water Heaters and Sediment
A gas water heater runs at maximum efficiency (69%) when it is new. Over time, sediment collects inside of the heater. The rate at which it builds up varies and is dependent on how soft or hard the water is.
As sediment builds up, the efficiency of the unit begins to drop to 60%. After cleaning, full efficiency is not completely restored, but a thorough cleaning will extend the life and overall efficiency of the unit.
To clean a gas water heater, you will need to:
- Turn off the gas
- Drain the water
- Remove the drain valve
- Attach a vacuum tube and remove as much sediment as possible
Electric Water Heaters and Sediment
Every type of water heater will collect sediment over time. However, electric water heaters are less vulnerable and fully repairable; gas units are not.
New electric water heaters run at 99% efficiency. They maintain high efficiency until sediment collects around the lower heating element. When this occurs, the element will burn out quickly and require a replacement.
Regular cleaning of the unit will restore it to 99% efficiency. Unlike gas units, any sediment that remains will not affect the new element.
If you are currently running a gas unit, you may want to skip the task of sediment removal and remove the unit altogether. An upgrade to an electric water heater will bring greater efficiency and a longer life.
How to Tell When Sediment Is a Problem
Regardless of what type of unit you have, knowing when sediment is becoming a problem is important. Water heaters that are suffering from accumulation do not do so silently. They will begin to make a noticeable rumbling sound. You will also start to see a rise in energy usage. In cases where sediment has become severe and reached the lower element, wait times for hot water will increase, the amount of hot water available will decrease, and the element itself may burn out.
Flushing your water heater once every six months is the best way to keep accumulation under control. It can prevent unwanted and premature damage and promote efficiency. Be sure to set the date for your next cleaning! Contact a company, such as All Clear for more information.