Water Heater Flushing Questions

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Old 07-10-20, 07:29 AM
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Water Heater Flushing Questions

I have a Bradford-White 75-gallon gas water heater that is from 1997, so 23 years old. I have a few questions on draining and flushing. I don't think it has been flushed for 10+ years.

1. I would like to drain/flush it but am concerned that given the age that might be risky. Could it expose some weak areas and potentially cause a leak? Is it best to let “sleeping dogs lie”? It works fine but maybe it is taking a lot of energy if there is a lot of sediment build up? I did check and water does come out freely from the drain if I open it up (it’s a brass fitting with a chrome handle).

2. If I do flush it, I could drain into a sump pit or run the hose up and out to the yard through a basement window. If I drain into the sump, would the sediment clog the sump pump? If I drain out the window will I need a pump – the window is about 8 feet above the level of the heater drain.

3. Should I proactively replace the heater given its age? It seems fine, but if it leaks would it be a burst and a flood in the basement? Or is it more likely to be a slow leak, which I could shut off and give me time to get a new one. I did ask Bradford, the guy on the phone said he had never seen a catastrophic leak, that it is always a slow leak. Of course, trying to replace a heater during an emergency is setting myself up for no time or leverage to get a good deal.

4. If I get a new one what is your opinion on a tankless one? I know they are more expensive to buy and install and the payback in reduced energy bills might be minimal. But I am more concerned about their reliability or other operational drawbacks.

Thanks!
 
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Old 07-10-20, 09:04 AM
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I'd be leery of flushing a water heater that old. I wouldn't replace it just yet but I would set money aside so you have it when you do need to replace the heater. I like to flush/drain off my water heater 2-3 times a year .... but I've been doing that since it was installed.
 
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Old 07-10-20, 09:07 AM
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I'd replace it!
There's just no way anyone can tell you if it will just start leaking or the whole bottom will drop out of it.
Not a fan of the tank less ones.
 
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Old 07-10-20, 09:27 AM
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I would not try flushing. After that much time the drain is likely buried under sediment. I don't think flushing will cause or hasten a leak much but I don't think you'll be able to flush enough out to make it worthwhile.
 
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Old 07-10-20, 01:11 PM
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Thanks, guys! Appreciate the prompt responses.
 
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Old 07-10-20, 05:22 PM
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If I do decide to risk it and flush the tank, can you guys advise on my other questions:

[/QUOTE]If I do flush it, I could drain into a sump pit or run the hose up and out to the yard through a basement window. If I drain into the sump, would the sediment clog the sump pump? If I drain out the window will I need a pump – the window is about 8 feet above the level of the heater drain.
[QUOTE]
 
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Old 07-11-20, 04:29 AM
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Yes, you will get sediment out. I would not want that going into a sump. But, you can run a hose into a bucket inside the sump. The bucket will catch most of the sediment and it can overflow into the sump to pump out the water.

You can also use a garden hose up and out the window... IF you are able to maintain a good flow rate. I'm betting your drain valve will clog and you'll be poking at it a lot for cleaning. For old heaters I get the largest catch pan that will fit under the drain valve. I leave the water turned on. Try a hose first and let it run but if it clogs I unhook the hose and put the pan under the drain. Drape a large rag or old towel over the valve to contain spraying and shove a large zip tie or coat hanger up in the drain to unclog it.

I wouldn't bother on a heater so old but you can plan on replacing the drain valve with a quarter turn ball valve. This creates a larger diameter, straight passage which is much less likely to clog. To install it I turn the water off to the house and open a faucet to relieve all the water pressure. Then I put a catch pan under the drain valve. Unscrew the old one and quickly screw in the new one. Then turn the house water back on a proceed with flushing.
 
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Old 07-11-20, 04:42 AM
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Great, thanks for the detailed advice! I most likely will not drain it, but still very helpful to know all the issues involved.
 
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