Hot Water Tank Cleaning: Tips and Mistakes to Avoid

Metal hot water tanks.

Most of us take our hot water tanks for granted and fail to consider that they might need to be cleaned of accumulated deposits. If you have decided to clean your tank, the following tips will give you the information you need.

1. Turn off Water Heater

Do not forget to turn off the power to your hot water heater.

2. Turn off Cold Water

Avoid allowing cold water to flow into the tank during the cleaning process. Be sure to shut off the cold water intake valve

3. Connect a Hose to the Water Heater Drain Valve

Avoid draining water from the water heater onto the floor. When you connect your garden hose to the tank's drain valve, take the end of the hose out of doors and allow drain water to empty there. If you aren't able to drain the water out of doors, drain it into a floor drain or a container you can empty.

4. Open Drain Valve

Open your water heater's drain valve completely.

5. Close the Cold Water Inlet Pipe

Do not forget to close the cold water intake valve before adding your cleaning solution. Leaving it open will allow fresh water to enter the tank and dilute the cleaner.

6. Add the Cleaning Solution

Pour a gallon of acidic tub and tile cleaner into the tank, 1 cup at a time. Avoid pouring it in too fast. After each cup of cleaner has been added, give the cleaner a few seconds to drain into the tank before adding additional cleaner

7. Allow Cleaner Time to Work

Do not drain the tank right away. Give the cleaner 3 to 5 hours to dissolve or neutralize mineral deposits that have accumulated in the tank,

8. Test the Water Tank

Pull together the opening of a small plastic bag and very tightly secure the bag around the tank water outlet. If the bag begins filling with escaping carbon dioxide gas from the dissolving minerals, this will tell you the cleaner has not finished working. Do not proceed with the next step until the cleaner has stopped working.

9. Allow Heater to Flush

After opening the cold water inlet valve, allow the hot water heater to flush for 10 or 15 minutes.

10. Reopen Water Intake Valve

Once the water begins to drain, reopen the water intake valve and allow the tank to refill.

11. Check Water

If the water is clean and there are no bubbles, this means the cleaner has stopped working. Close the drain valve.

12. Turn on Hot Water at your House Taps

Don't forget to turn on all hot water faucets in your home. You will need to do this to release air from the water pipes.

13. Turn on Heater

Once all the air is released from the heater and the pipes, restore the heater power.

14. Residual Bubbles

Don't be concerned if you see small amounts of frothy water coming from your faucets for a few days after your tank cleaning. This will be harmless are residual bubbles from the cleaning.