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How To Tell If There’s Sediment In Your Water Heater

You only realize how much you appreciate hot water when your shower runs cold. Suddenly, you’re standing under the icy showerhead, mad at yourself for skipping this year’s plumbing maintenance.

However, your cold water woes may be due to one simple reason: sediment buildup. The water in your water heater may contain hard minerals that are causing issues within the system. Over time, this can lead to problems like disruptions to your hot water.

But what causes this issue, and how can you repair it? We’re going to share a few important tips about sediment in your water heater: 

Signs of Sediment in a Hot Water Tank

Are you suspicious that something has gone awry with your water tank? Watch out for the following signs that sediment is causing issues:

No hot water

This is the number one sign that your hot water tank is bogged down with water heater sediment: a lack of hot water! You probably won’t have the patience to deal with this issue for very long—usually, all it takes is one cold shower before you’re calling for a repair!

Water temperature fluctuates 

Have you ever run the tap and noticed that the temperature fluctuates between lukewarm and icy cold every few seconds? Once again, sediment buildup may be the cause. The particles may be disrupting the water heater’s capacity to regulate temperatures.

Rumbling noises from the tank

Those strange popping and clanking noises coming from your water heater can’t be a good sign. Most homeowners fear that noises indicate it’s time to replace your hot water heater, but it could actually only be due to sediment.

Why does it create these noises? The heavy sediment traps air bubbles in the tank, which pop when the heat bursts them open. If the sediment itself moves around the tank, it may create scraping or creaking noises. 

Water that smells/looks strange

Is your hot water smelling a bit rusty lately? Has it taken on a darker, less than appealing color? The sediment in your water heater could be travelling to your taps themselves. Watch out for any gritty particles or cloudiness in your water. 

The drain valve is leaking

As sediment collects within the tank, it accumulates inside the drain valve. This may lead to a clog or a leak within the valve. If you see pools of water forming around your water heater, it’s a sign that it needs to be flushed.

Rising utility bills

A telltale sign of water heater sediment is evident on your monthly water and power expenses. This can be due to several factors:

  • Your water takes longer to heat up, which means you need to run more of it to reach the desired temperature.
  • The heating element works harder to heat the water and therefore consumes more energy.
  • The sediment may damage components and cause a leak—this also will increase your water bill.

All in all, this leads to growing monthly expenses that all point to one problem: sediment in your water. It’s a costly issue to ignore! Also, drinking water full of sediment may expose you to pollutants and pathogens, and it damages your water pipes, as well!

How Does Sediment Build Up?

Unfiltered tap water contains various minerals like calcium carbonate and magnesium. If you rubbed these particles between your fingers, they would feel like sand or crystals.

Depending on how hard the water is in your area, you may deal with sediment buildup more often as hard minerals build up in the hot water tank. Once they settle, they rest upon components like the drain valve or heating element, which can lead to the issues we described above.

Your next question might be: how does that sediment affect the water temperature? 

Over time, sediment settles to the bottom of your water heater. It creates a barrier between the element that heats the water, and the hot water itself. As such, it’s more difficult for the element to heat the water. It will take more time and energy to do so.

That’s why the only solution here is to get rid of that sediment! How do you do it?

Flush it!

How to Flush Your Water Heater

You might have read online that flushing your hot water heater is relatively easy. It may seem like a simple solution to your sediment buildup problem. 

However, taking the DIY route for this issue may not be your best bet. You might end up causing a leak in your water heater, which can be disastrous for your property (and water bill!). You also risk damaging components within the hot water heater, such as the heating element or drain valve.

Rather than risking further damage, it might be wiser to call in a professional. Even though you’ll need to pay for professional plumbing services, it’s better than damaging the system further and needing to cover even more expenses.

In the future, you can schedule annual water tank maintenance. Flushing your tank regularly will prevent sediment from accumulating. A plumber can install a sediment filter to keep your tap water clean!

Call a Plumber in Denver

To get rid of sediment buildup, we advise that you call for plumbing in Denver. Our plumbing technicians will quickly get your hot water heater back in working order! 

With our plumbing services at Master Rooter, you can extend the lifespan of your tank, and prevent hot water disruptions. Don’t live without hot water for longer than you have to—contact us today!


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