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Old 12-16-2010, 07:26 PM   #1
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Flushing crud from an electric water heater


I have hard water, and have rarely drained any water out the bottom of my electric water heater for at least 8 years. The drain hose bib finally clogged, and when I replaced this plastic piece of crap with brass, I saw that my hard water has been precipitating out into thumbtack-sized white mineral crystals that are at least as deep as the drain opening. Trying to flush them with house pressure through the dip tube doesnt work. I'm thinking of trying to knock them loose by reversin gthe flow. I'd do this by turning off the poser, draining the heater, attaching a hose to the drain hose bib with the other end attached to the washing machine's supply line, then running pressurized water into the bottom of the heater through the drain hole, hoping this reverse-pressure will stir up the crystals and get them to exit stage left.

Before I damage my heater, can anyone see a flaw in this plan, or have a better idea?

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Old 12-16-2010, 09:15 PM   #2
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Flushing crud from an electric water heater


I remove the valve entirely. Then I take my shop vac and a piece of EMT conduit. If you can get 3/4" conduit in, and be able to move it around (swing back and forth and such) it is better than 1/2".

I tape it to the hose and stick it in and suck that stuff out. Some of the chunks can be large but I was able to break them up with the end of the conduit.

The, I replace the valve with a ball valve. A ball valve has straight through passage when open so it tends to allow more crud to pass through than other types of valves.

I attach a garden hose to the nipple I installed on the end of the valve and run it outside or to a sink. Makes flushing it semi-annually much easier.

If you run the hose to a sink, make sure somebody holds it or it will fly all over the plave.

also, make sure the heater is totally shut down and if this is electric, make sure the tank is totally filled before turnign the power back on.

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Old 12-17-2010, 09:22 AM   #3
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Flushing crud from an electric water heater


Yes, if your water heater is as old as you say I wouldn't do much of anything.
What I would do is cap the drain valve (NOT THE T/P VALVE) and just use the heater as long as I could until it broke then replace it. If you haven't been draining it on a normal rotation forget about it. it's to late.
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Old 12-17-2010, 09:27 AM   #4
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Flushing crud from an electric water heater


Quote:
Originally Posted by nap View Post
I remove the valve entirely. Then I take my shop vac and a piece of EMT conduit. If you can get 3/4" conduit in, and be able to move it around (swing back and forth and such) it is better than 1/2".

I tape it to the hose and stick it in and suck that stuff out. Some of the chunks can be large but I was able to break them up with the end of the conduit.

The, I replace the valve with a ball valve. A ball valve has straight through passage when open so it tends to allow more crud to pass through than other types of valves.

I attach a garden hose to the nipple I installed on the end of the valve and run it outside or to a sink. Makes flushing it semi-annually much easier.

If you run the hose to a sink, make sure somebody holds it or it will fly all over the plave.

also, make sure the heater is totally shut down and if this is electric, make sure the tank is totally filled before turnign the power back on.
great advice, the only thing i do different is that i use pex instead of emt. its still strong enough to break up the minerals, but you can bend it to get into the corners (on a round tank ) when you turn on the water again, be prepared for a lot of sediment coming back, try to open a valve somewhere that won't easily plug up

Edit: the element opening will give you much more room to get in there and get the stuff out, I wouldn't try it thru the drain valve threads
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Old 12-17-2010, 12:00 PM   #5
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Flushing crud from an electric water heater


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Edit: the element opening will give you much more room to get in there and get the stuff out, I wouldn't try it thru the drain valve threads
very true and good point about the element opening. PEX or EMT should work just fine. I, being an electrician, just happened to have some EMT laying around so that is what I used.
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Old 12-17-2010, 03:19 PM   #6
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Flushing crud from an electric water heater


At 8 years old... I would not be poking to hard in that tank. You may do more damage than good

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