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How Often Should I Flush My Water Heater? A San Antonio Plumber Answers

March 06, 2019
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We recommend you hire a professional to flush your water heater at least once a year.

The reason?

In San Antonio, we have some of the hardest water in the country, meaning we have a lot of minerals (sediment) in our water supply. Over time, these minerals build up inside your tank, leading to issues like:

  • Higher energy bills
  • Annoying popping noises
  • Reduced hot water
  • Expensive repairs

A water heater flush helps to flush out all of the sediment that accumulates at the bottom of your tank, so you’ll avoid the problems we listed.

In this article, we’ll cover some commonly asked questions about draining a water heater:

  • “Can I flush my own water heater?”
  • “How much does water heater flushing cost?”
  • “What are signs I have sediment buildup already?”

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Technically, you can. But we usually recommend having a professional flush your water heater for the following reasons:

  1. Flushing is time-consuming and messy: Properly flushing your water heater takes at least an hour to complete, and if you don’t know how to flush it properly, you can get sediment and water all over your closet, laundry room or garage.
  2. You can potentially harm yourself or your water heater: Any time you work with your water heater, there’s an automatic risk of bodily harm from mishandling equipment that uses gas or electricity. And if you don’t know what you’re doing you can damage important components in your water heater. Also, the water in the tank is extremely hot and errors in the flushing process can cause serious burns if not done properly.
  3. You may have other problems that a professional will need to fix. When a plumber drains your water heater, they may find other issues (like a corroded anode rod or a leak) that will require their expertise to repair.

The cost to flush a water heater in San Antonio ranges from $150 to $350. (We charge $210 for the service.)

The cost to flush a water heater varies depending on the type of company you hire. It’s always best to hire a licensed and insured professional to ensure your home and family are protected in the event of a problem.

If the plumber also checks components in your water heater to make sure they’re operating correctly, they may charge more for their flushing service. Additionally, if your valves are in poor repair or frozen, you may be required to replace them in order to perform a flush.

Note: Your water heater needs to meet city code—and codes change over the years. City codes are enforced for your personal safety and security. If your water heater is not installed to meet city code you may need to have some work done to bring it to code.

If you notice any of the following signs, you may have sediment buildup that a professional will need to drain out:

  • You hear a loud popping noise coming from your water heater: Loud popping or knocking noises indicate you have a lot of sediment inside your tank. These noises are caused by boiling water that is trapped under the sediment.
sediment buildup on the bottom of a gas water heater

Sediment buildup on the bottom of a gas water heater

  • You have a shortage of hot water: Does it seem like you’re running out of hot water faster than normal? If so, sediment buildup may be preventing your water heater’s ability to provide enough hot water for your family.
  • You see cloudy or discolored water from the hot water tap: This usually means you have severe sediment buildup in your tank.
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