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Sediment, The #1 Killer Of Water Heaters – Here’s How To Deal With The Threat
Bacteria problems in water heaters
Sediment causes a number of problems in your water heater. Among them is the growth of bacteria. These are usually not disease-causing bacteria, but they do oxygenate and corrode the water heater lining. This is associated with high amounts of heat and the deposit can be very destructive.
Remember that if you smell sulfur or rotten eggs, you may have a bacteria problem in your water heater. Don’t be confused by a possible natural gas leak, which may have a similar smell. Both are serious problems that need to be addressed immediately.
Accumulation of deposits (scale) in water heaters
They are natural minerals in all the water that flows into your water heater. As the water heats up, the minerals come out of solution and fall to the bottom of the water heater tank. The sediment is usually calcium carbonate in most areas of the country. With a gas water heater, sediment falls to the bottom of the tank and settles on the burner plate, where the flame is directly below. Sediment is a barrier through which heat does not pass easily. The glass lining inside a tank-shaped water heater will begin to slowly disintegrate at temperatures of 160 degrees or higher. The metal on the burner plate at the bottom can also deform.
A build-up of deposits can cause the water heater to leak. Your electric water heater may suddenly stop producing nearly as much hot water as it did a few days earlier. Most likely, the deposit covered the lower heating element. If you have a gas water heater and it is noisy, you may have sediment build up. A sulfur smell is a sign of a sediment build-up problem.
Hot water softening will slow the build-up of deposits, but will shorten the life of your hot water heater anode.
You can slow down the sediment if you lower the water temperature to 130 degrees. Sediment can grow rapidly in heat above 140 degrees or more, but 130 degrees still kills bacteria that can harm humans. The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease grows at temperatures up to 115 degrees.
Here’s how to control sediment
Fill a container full of hot water in the house faucet. Make sure it’s hot. Place a meat thermometer in it. Note the temperature. Now, if you have a gas water heater, you can turn the control knob on the bottom hotter or colder. The button says ON OFF PILOT.
Sometimes there is a small adjustment button in the middle of the ON OFF PILOT button. It can be used to reduce the size of the flame on the burner plate.
With an electric water heater, you can install a low wattage element in your tank to reduce the high temperatures produced and thus reduce deposits in the tank. Don’t worry, your water will still be as hot because the low wattage element is twice the size and has twice the surface area to heat the water.
If your water pressure in the house is over 50 psi, have a plumber install a pressure reducer for your water heater. High pressure causes deposits to form more quickly.
Chemical dissolution of sediments
You can with AO Smith’s chemical descaler called Mag-Erad. It can only be used when the gas is turned off and there is no water in the gas boiler. The instructions may say to leave the gas on while using the product. No, otherwise you will damage the chimney. The product can be used for electric water heaters without any problems, just empty the water heater first. A licensed plumber should install the curved downspout and flush the water heater.
Curved dip tube flushing method for sediment removal
Most water heaters are equipped with a flat immersion tube as standard. Water enters through the cold water inlet and through the immersion tube to the bottom of the water heater. The force of the water cleans only a small area at the bottom of the water heater, leaving the rest of the domed bottom of the water heater covered in sediment. Draining the water heater with the drain valve will only remove a small amount of sediment that is close to the drain valve itself.
Installing a curved immersion tube causes the water to swirl around the domed bottom of the water heater. Sediment-laden swirling water can now be forced out of the drain valve with a five-minute full power flush.
Installing a curved downspout begins by turning off the water supply to your house and then removing the cold water fitting on the right side of the water heater. Insert plastic-handled pliers into the cold water inlet and unscrew the original dip tube. Using pliers, pull the immersion tube up and out of the water heater. Remove any rust that is preventing you from doing so. Use a marker to mark the direction of the curve in the new curved downspout at its top. Wrap the fitting eight times with teflon tape on its threads and insert the new curved immersion tube into the opening with the marked side facing along the wall but going far around the bottom of the water heater towards the drain valve.
Have a plumber install a 3/4-inch ball valve for the drain valve. Flushes with a larger opening compared to a plastic drain valve.
Descaling in commercial water heaters
If you hear a lot of noise coming from your commercial water heater or smell an unpleasant odor, you may need to remove the sediment that is building up inside.
Descaling a commercial gas water heater will save 5% on your energy bills, but it doesn’t save much on a commercial electric water heater.
If you have a commercial water heater, turn off the gas or electricity and turn off the water to the cold line, as well as turn off any recirculation systems. Then open the T&P valve to release the pressure in the pipes and allow the water to drain through the drain valve. Attach the water hose to the drain valve to allow the water to drain. If nothing flows out, then sediment is blocking the drain line. Remove the drain valve and use a screwdriver to break up the sediment. Also remove any rust. A drain pan should be placed under the open opening of the drain valve. Continue to flush out as much sediment as possible. If you want to remove all the deposits, hire a plumber to do it.
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