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Old 12-08-2008, 10:01 AM   #1
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hot water heater question...

i bought a house that gets it's water from a shallow well... the water has a HIGH iron content, but the house had a greensand filter installed about 6 years ago... The filter has gone unused for about 5 years... i have recently plugged it back up and it seems to be working, but i'll be adding the chemicals to regenerate the greensand filter tonight...

so-my question is - will I need to replace the hot water heater or is there a way to clean it out? The iron has built up inside the toilet tank and has made a caked on residue (like mud) from being untreated for 5 years... Can i expect this in the hot water heater as well? I haven't checked the pipes yet...

I hope i've included enough information, & thanks in advance for any responses!


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Old 12-09-2008, 01:20 AM   #2
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If it has built up like that in your toilet tank(s), you can bet it also has builtup inside your water heater.
To find out for certain, attach a water hose to the bottom drain on the heater, and see what happens when you open the drain.
If it won't drain with the water pressure on, then it is clogged with the stuff. It may be possible to turn OFF the heater, remove the lower element, and try to shop vac the gunk out of the bottom of the heater, and you can clean off the element with an SOS pad. Replace the element and try to flush the heater out again.
If flushing cleans it out and the sludge is removed from the bottom of the tank, it should be OK. If it is too caked in there and especially if its close to touching your bottom element, you will be better off replacing the heater IMHO.
Good Luck!


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Old 12-09-2008, 08:33 AM   #3
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Thank you Mike!!
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Old 12-09-2008, 09:41 AM   #4
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I have saved a few tanks in conditions like this.

Hook up a hose as Mike said a try to drain it. If it doesn't drain then it is clogged.

In that case shut off the water and electricity. Disconnect the cold supply line into the tank. Get a hose connection for the top of the tank at the plumbing store. Connect that to the top of the tank and connect another hose to that connection. Run that hose outside into the yard. Then hook the bottom hose to the outside faucet and turn it on.

What this will do is push a hole through the sediment and stir it up.

Once the water is flowing out the top hose then shut off the water on the bottom one and disconnect it from the faucet and see if you have some flow.

You might have to repeat this many times to get this cleaned out but it will save you the cost of a new water heater.

If push comes to shove you might have to take the water heater out and shove a coat hanger up into the drain valve to clear it out. This is very difficult because the tank is full of water and sludge and is very heavy. I recently had one that was so heavy with sludge it weighed 1600 pounds (it was a 120 gallon solar hot water tank) and I had to drain it in the basement. It took me 2 days to clean up the mess.

Or you can just buy a new water heater.
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