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Sludge In Your Water Heater Compromises Efficiency — Tips For Removing It

Whether it comes from the municipal supply or a well, water contains tiny sediment particles, along with minerals that form into particles at high temperatures. Over time, all this grit settles into a thick sludge on the bottom of your water heater storage tank. If the accumulation isn’t removed regularly, it not only compromises efficiency, it can reduce the tank’s capacity and clog up your home’s water lines. A severe build-up can burn out an electric tank’s heating elements, or damage a gas unit beyond repair.

Tips for Removing Water Heater Sludge

It’s easy to stay ahead of sludge by flushing out the tank every year:

    • Put your gas-fired heater on “pilot” or shut off the breaker to your electric unit.
    • Wait a few hours until the stored water cools down. It’s possible to flush the tank right away, but you’ll be dealing with extremely hot water, so it’s best to wait.
    • Turn off the cold water supply coming into the tank.
    • Attach a garden hose to the tank’s drain valve. Put the other end in your bathtub or floor drain if you have one.
    • Open a hot water faucet in the bathroom or kitchen. Then, open the water tank’s drain valve and let it empty completely. If sludge blocks the hose while it’s draining, open the cold water supply again and the added water pressure will push out the clog.
    • When the tank is empty, close the drain valve. Open the cold water supply and half fill the tank, then turn it off. Open the drain valve one more time to flush out the tank again.

You should repeat these steps until the draining water runs clear. Then, shut off the drain valve, fill the tank again, and once there’s a flow from your open hot water faucet, turn it off. Now, reset the breaker or turn on the gas again and let the tank reheat.

For expert advice about removing sludge from the water heater in your home, contact us today at Wolff Mechanical. We’ve made the comfort of Phoenix and Scottsdale area residents our priority since 1990.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems). 

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