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Old 03-26-2010, 03:14 PM   #1
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What is draining from my water heater


I have a gas water heater that I drain about once a year. When I do drain it, I get little semi-opaque beads (round to oblong) about 1/8" is size. If you pick one up, its firm but squeezable, sort of like a piece of rubber. Our water is very hard (lots of limestone and sink holes).

Anyone know exactly what this stuff is? Presumably it has something to do with the minerals in our hard water, but I would have expected something harder, more rock like.

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Old 03-26-2010, 04:40 PM   #2
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What is draining from my water heater


If you are draining it once a year it may not have the time to harden up... so you might be getting it while it is still soft.

You might think about a softener to take that hardness out of the water to keep build up that is not getting flushed out of the draining of the water heater and save on cleaning and other fixtures in the house.

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Old 03-26-2010, 05:52 PM   #3
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What is draining from my water heater


What you are describing sound a lot like the beads inside a water softener--

Not good news if that's what it is----
Do you have a water softener?



Edit---take some of those 'beads' into a water softener place--ask a service man to identify it.

If your machine is rupturing you will want to fix it fast---

It took 3 trained guys over 4 hours to flush out a house I was call to once

all new shut offs --new toilet guts --new faucet or two--

All for free,too. Boy was she glad to have made friends with a plumber!!!

Last edited by oh'mike; 03-26-2010 at 06:41 PM.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:29 PM   #4
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What is draining from my water heater


No water softener, just simple city water. But the city water comes from wells, and like I said, we've got lots of limestone.

As for "not having time to harden", the 1st time I ever though to drain the water heater was when the house was about 3 years old... and they were the same back then. Never hard, just rubbery.

Nothing has changed... it's been this way for 12 years.

Now humidifiers... the heating element gets caked with a thick layer of mineral deposits that I have to chissle off every once in a while.
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Old 03-26-2010, 10:51 PM   #5
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What is draining from my water heater


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Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
No water softener, just simple city water. But the city water comes from wells, and like I said, we've got lots of limestone.

As for "not having time to harden", the 1st time I ever though to drain the water heater was when the house was about 3 years old... and they were the same back then. Never hard, just rubbery.

Nothing has changed... it's been this way for 12 years.

Now humidifiers... the heating element gets caked with a thick layer of mineral deposits that I have to chissle off every once in a while.
You have drained the water heater every few years from day one or just over the last few years?

For me the difference in the water heater and the humidifiers ,, humidifiers use up the water, you put 1 or 2 gallons in and x number of days later that water is gone, where the water heater is holding on to say 50 gallons 24/7 ,, that is why I think and I could very well be wrong but that the stuff you are getting out of the water heater has not set up or hardened. If you still have some let it dry out and see what it is like.
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Old 03-27-2010, 06:13 AM   #6
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What is draining from my water heater


I'm glad to see a water treatment specialist here--Welcome!
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Old 03-27-2010, 08:27 AM   #7
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What is draining from my water heater


Drain the water heater until no more gunk comes out, and for the time being repeat every 6 months.

If the gunk is allowed to accumulate at the bottom of the tank, the life of the tank can be shortened as the metal at the bottom of the tank and in the burner flames will go to a higher temperature without direct contact with water that moves and distributes the heat more evenly. This may break the glass lining.

>>> humidifiers use up the water

Evaporative humidifiers release the water but minerals in the water stay behind.

Ultrasonic humidifiers do get rid of most of the minerals, which become dust in the air or dust on furniture in the room.
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:57 AM   #8
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What is draining from my water heater


Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
No water softener, just simple city water. But the city water comes from wells, and like I said, we've got lots of limestone.

As for "not having time to harden", the 1st time I ever though to drain the water heater was when the house was about 3 years old... and they were the same back then. Never hard, just rubbery.

Nothing has changed... it's been this way for 12 years.

Now humidifiers... the heating element gets caked with a thick layer of mineral deposits that I have to chissle off every once in a while.
You can't drain or flush any of the hard scale that is in a gas or oil fired water heater once it goes hard because it is attached to the inside of the tank. Below is a picture of an electric water heater showing how scale breaks off an electric element. Draining/flushing a heater helps to prevent more scale form sticking fast IF you can get any to drain out but nowhere near enough to prevent premature failure of the heater.

Softener resin beads are about a 1/16" and smaller in diameter. So it isn't resin. Picture below.

If your water hardness is 3-4 gpg or harder, you need a water softener.
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Old 03-27-2010, 11:46 PM   #9
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What is draining from my water heater


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You have drained the water heater every few years from day one or just over the last few years?
My best recollection is that the house was at LEAST 3 years old before I ever drained this gas water heater. Since then, I've done it irregularly any where from 1 to 2 years between drains.


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If your water hardness is 3-4 gpg or harder, you need a water softener.
The only numbers I can find is in our water quality report that includes the following under the heading "Secondary Contaminants":
Hardness 178-234 ppm
ph 7.82-7.90
Sulfate 15.4-33.0 ppm
Total Dissolved Solids 160-292 ppm

Additionally, its unusual for homes to have water softeners around here.
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:01 AM   #10
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What is draining from my water heater


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Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
My best recollection is that the house was at LEAST 3 years old before I ever drained this gas water heater. Since then, I've done it irregularly any where from 1 to 2 years between drains.
That is a good round of draining, there are some that I know that Never Drain their water heaters,,, and we are talking 10-15 years...
Quote:
Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
The only numbers I can find is in our water quality report that includes the following under the heading "Secondary Contaminants":
Hardness 178-234 ppm
ph 7.82-7.90
Sulfate 15.4-33.0 ppm
Total Dissolved Solids 160-292 ppm

Additionally, its unusual for homes to have water softeners around here.
With 10-13 grains of hardness,, I would be betting on Black to show up.... or with that much hardness there is likely to be build up in your water heater, you are keeping it from really building up, but it will over time, and if there are 4-6 people in your house using 60 gallons per person per day that is going to add up..

You might like to research scale build up and levels of scale and the level of build up...
Say scale or hardness at 7 grains and how long to build and what that looks like, and say hardness of 12 grains and how long that takes to build up and what it looks like..

I have seen the inside coil of a boiler mate, the one that looks like the old fin tube of the baseboard heat and build up with 20 grain water in 2-3 years...

This is only my thoughts and Ideas...
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:17 AM   #11
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What is draining from my water heater


i reccomend draining 5-10 gallons a month to my customers
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:21 AM   #12
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What is draining from my water heater


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i reccomend draining 5-10 gallons a month to my customers
That is a good idea, my only challenge with that is the cheep plastic valves that one finds at the bottom of most water heaters... open them up and getting them closed could be a question..
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:26 AM   #13
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What is draining from my water heater


drain it down and put a brass boiler drain on there,problem solved
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Old 03-28-2010, 01:36 AM   #14
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drain it down and put a brass boiler drain on there,problem solved
True, there are customers or plumbers that have taken the time to do this, then there are others that do not.. would be great if the factory would do it start up... they do for the larger commercial units but not the ones for the home...
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Old 03-28-2010, 07:38 AM   #15
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What is draining from my water heater


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That is a good idea, my only challenge with that is the cheep plastic valves that one finds at the bottom of most water heaters... open them up and getting them closed could be a question..
(copied from another forum) The cheap plastic cap that comes with a daisy chainable lawn sprinkler (you should also be able to buy the cap separately) works fine on the water heater drain valve provided you did not lose the washer that came with the cap.

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