Jan 21, 2012, 11:34 PM
Post #1 of 3
Good Morning All,
Clean Out that Water Heater and save $ on Gas
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An earlier post on OD water heaters made me think it is time for me to inspect and clean my old standard water heater again. I just thought I would share this with you all.
Something most of us forget to do is to periodically clean out the water heater. It can be a messy and irritating job, until you get into the swing of it. If you do it right it can save a good chunk of change from your gas or electric bill. Keep a 10 to 20 foot (depending upon your needs) length of old garden hose near you water heater. Twice a year hook up that hose to your water heater outlet at the bottom of the tank, and drain all the crap out of the tank. Unless you want a real mess, make sure that you use a good long water hose and do not empty that sediment into your garden. Make sure you release most of the pressure in the tank before draining, or it might scare the %$#$# out of you when you see all that white crud coming out at a blast speed. Doing the job in this manner you're only draining the tank via gravity, and all the water will probably not drain out. The water will drain from the hose and then slowly stop. This is because the pressure release valve needs to be opened to allow air into the tank. A vacuum has been formed and no additional water will be drained from the tank until the vacuum is opened up and removed.
Don't worry if the water is a little or a lot dirty (usually a gray / white color) as first. That is from all the dirt and sediment that has built up. This is the reason why you are draining it. Get all of that stuff out! Wait 10 - 30 minutes to allow all the water to drain.
You will vastly increase the flushing action by giving it a "power flush." After partially draining the tank (before you open the pressure relief valve), close the drain valve. Then open the pressure relief valve to reduce the vacuum. Here is the secret step: open the fill valve to pressurize the heater. You'll hear the water filling the tank. Once the sound stops, you'll have a tank that is mostly filled with water, but with a high-pressure air "bubble" at the top. The whole tank is now pressurized to the same pressure as your incoming water. Now open the drain valve again.
Stay out of the line of fire! The water in the tank will now be forced out of the drain under higher pressure (maintained by the air bubble), doing a much more thorough job of flushing sediments out. Allow a few gallons worth of water to drain. Be sure to check the water draining out and make sure it is clear. If it is then you are set to refill the tank. Once the sediment is gone, or the pressure inside your tank drops, you can close the drain valve and open some other hot water spigot in the house to let the air bubble out and allow the tank to fill. If you, instead, open the pressure relief valve to let the air out, you'll wander away to do some other chore and return to find water overflowing through the pressure relief valve.
Check and see where your water heater anode rod is located, take it out after draining the water heater and inspect it. It will usually be "eaten away" after a year or two. Make sure that you write down the make and model number (serial number doesn't hurt either) of your water heater so you will buy the correct rod, go to your local Home Depot or Truper store, buy a new (pretty cheap) anode rod and install it after cleaning out all the crud.
Refill the water heater tank. Make sure the water drain at the base of the tank is turned off. Close the pressure release valve. Turn on the water to allow the tank to be filled.
Once the tank is full you can turn the gas or circuit breaker back on. Caution: Do not turn the heating unit on until the tank is full. If the tank is not full it can cause heating damage to the unit.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy your nice hot water that will be flowing and heating you more efficiently. You got a full year to wait and perform this maintenance again.
Note 1: If you want you can drain a few gallons a month from your tank especially if you live an area with a lot of sediment in your water. You don't need the hose. Just use the bucket for this month to month maintenance.
Note 2: If you experience any leaks in the water valves or pressure valves be sure that they are tightened correctly. There is a packing nut just below the knob that can be tightened if needed. If the leaking persists then there is a good chance they haven't been used enough and need to be replaced. So be sure to perform this routine maintenance to keep the valve working properly as well!
If you do this on a yearly basis, you will probably double or more the life of your water heater, and save about a third of your gas bill as well for your water heater. Make sure you buy a roll of Teflon thread tape for use before reinstalling the new anode rod. You will be amazed how much faster your water will heat up again.
(This post was edited by robt65 on Jan 22, 2012, 12:00 AM)