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Water Heater Sediment: Spring Check-up

water heater sediment massechusetts

With all the time we’re spending at home these days, keeping home comfort equipment running reliably has become a priority for most of us in central MA – and one of the most important pieces of home comfort is your water heater.

One critical maintenance task for owners of conventional water heaters (ones with a storage tank, as opposed to tankless water heaters) is periodic draining of sediment from your tank. If the water from your well or municipal supply is “hard” (that is, if it contains more than an average amount of minerals), sediment can easily form inside your tank. If enough gathers there, it will insulate your water heater’s heating element and block your tank’s drain valve, both of which can cause problems with your equipment.

The good news is that sediment is easy to drain with a few common tools.

How to drain your water heater tank:

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
  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.

Of course, your water heater will also need attention from a professional periodically – about once every two years – to keep it running well. If you need professional water heater maintenance in Middlesex or Norfolk County, MA, trust the pros at Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling.

If you need a water heater repair or water heater replacement in central MA, Needham Complete is here to help – contact us today for routine water heater service.

Please note: at Needham Oil Complete Heating & Cooling, 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 our crews and your home comfort systems working through this challenging time.