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An Important Water Heater Task For Spring

With social distancing keeping us at home much more than usual right now, it’s more important than ever to keep your home comfort equipment working efficiently and reliably. One of the most important and often overlooked pieces of home comfort equipment in your Sullivan County home is your water heater.

If you have a storage-type water heater, a key maintenance task is to periodically (once or twice a year, depending on how hard your water is) drain it of sediment. Sediment, which looks like sand or gravel, forms from minerals contained in your water supply; when it gathers at the bottom of your tank or on your water heater’s heating element, it can reduce energy efficiency and clog the tank’s drain valve, which can be a safety hazard.

The good news is that sediment is easy to drain with some basic tools.

flush water heater tank sullivan county

How to flush your water heater tank

Tools you’ll need

  • A flat blade screwdriver
  • A garden hose
  • A knee-high stocking
  • A rubber band or wire tie


  1. Turn off the power to the water heater at the circuit breaker; if you have a gas water heater, you will also need to turn off the gas supply.
  2. Fasten a length of garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the water heater. If you can’t locate the drain value, consult your water heater’s owner’s manual.
  3. Run the other end of the hose to the nearest floor drain, or outside your house. 
  4. Close the shut-off valve at the water inlet line or main water supply. 
  5. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house to relieve system pressure inside the tank. 
  6. Slide a knee-high stocking over the drain end of the garden hose to capture sediment and scale as the water heater drains; use the rubber band or wire tie to hold it in place. If you capture a lot of sediment, you’ll need to flush your water heater more often.
  7. Using your screwdriver, open the drain valve (the other side of the Y connector where you attached the hose). Use caution: the water that will flow into your floor drain or outside your home will be hot enough to scald.
  8. Drain about three to five gallons of water, which should be enough to capture the needed sediment. 
  9. When you’re done, close the drain valve with your screwdriver and remove the hose. 
  10. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the home, then open the shut-off valve at the water inlet line or main water supply. You’ll hear the water heater start to fill. When you have a steady stream of water at the faucet, turn it off. 
  11. Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker. For gas water heaters, turn the gas supply back on.

Of course, an occasional flush isn’t the only maintenance you’ll need for your water heater – you’ll also need professional water heater maintenance about every two years. If your water heater is due or overdue for a service visit, contact us today – before your water heater fails when you need it most.

If you need a water heater repair or water heater installation in Sullivan County, Black Bear is here to help – contact us today for water heater service.

Please note: at Black Bear, your safety and comfort are always our priority. Please see our Covid-19 Service Update Page to learn more about how we are working to keep you and our crews safe and your home comfort systems working through this challenging time.