Your water heater starts accumulating sediment from day one of its operation. High mineral content in the municipal water supply—mostly dissolved calcium carbonate and magnesium—occurs naturally in over 80 percent of the country, including here in Arizona. More familiarly known as “hard water,” when it’s heated by your water heater, dissolved minerals solidify and sink to the bottom of the tank, forming a layer that gradually accumulates over time. Hard water sediment is bad news for water heaters for two reasons:

  • The increasing layer of sediment in the bottom of the tank insulates water from the heat of the burner flame, causing the burner to run longer cycles to reach the desired water temperature. This dramatically increases energy consumption and steadily raises water heating costs.
  • Water inside your heater is under pressure from the standard municipal water pressure as well as expansion due to heating. While the expected service life of a well-maintained water heater is typically about 10 years, constant overheating due to sediment accumulation accelerates deterioration of the tank, often leading to premature tank failure. Whether it’s a dribbling leak—or a major rupture that floods your home and causes expensive damage—a leaking tank can’t be repaired and requires replacement of the heater.

Because sediment in water heaters eventually solidifies and turns rock hard, annual service by a plumbing professional to remove the accumulated sediment while it’s still loose is vital regular maintenance. A qualified plumber will turn off the heater, shut off water supply to the tank, drain the tank and then flush the sediment out through the tank drain faucet. After the flushing is completed, the plumber will re-light the heater and check it for proper operation. Another standard part of annual maintenance is testing and verifying the operation of the water heater’s temperature and pressure relief valve—a critical safety device as well as a frequent source of small leaks.

To schedule water heater service by a qualified professional plumber in the Phoenix/Scottsdale area, contact Wolff Mechanical.

Our goal is to help educate our customers in the Phoenix Valley area of Arizona about energy and home comfort issues (specific to HVAC systems).

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