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Old 10-23-2014, 06:18 AM   #1
Mark N.
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Annual de-scaling of the water heater

For years, I've used vinegar. It works fine I suppose, but at $3-$3.50/gal. (and I need 5 or 6 gallons for a 50/50 mix) it kills a $20 dollar bill ever year. So, I started looking for an alternative. I immediately started thinking about de-scaling my coffee pot. Commercial cleaners are usually citric acid based. Same stuff that makes all sour candies "sour". Non-toxic and pretty safe to handle. You can buy it at any candy making supple store, like a bigger kitchen store.
However, I had some handy right under my sink! It is the product I use to clean my dishwasher and keep water spots away. It is called "Lemi Shine".
I'm going to mix a bottle of it (It is a powder) into 5 gals. of hot water and use the winterize port to suck it into the water heater. I'll top it off with water and let it sit over night. Drain, flush and done! Should work every bit as well as vinegar, if not a lot better, and total cost will be about $3.50
It touts being derived from "citrus" and of course lemons are full of citric acid. I know it keeps the inside of my stainless dishwasher absolutely spotless!
Here's a link that shows the product:

https://farm4.staticflickr.com/3956/...290ce4e1_z.jpg
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Old 10-23-2014, 09:19 AM   #2
scott-pati
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Again, I'm a day late and a dollar short! LOL. Yesterday I drained the hot water tank and checked the anode rod and flushed the tank. After one year the rod still looks good. Next time round I'll have to try your suggestion.
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:02 PM   #3
WaltBennett
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I've found that draining & then flushing (just turning on a water source) does a good job of getting all the crud out of the bottom. Usually let the water run for fifteen minutes or so. Getting it off the anode sometimes can be more work.
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:15 PM   #4
Bill-N-Donna
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Ive always used a shop vac and a clear thin hose attached to the vac and tried to suck out all the gunk that I could. With the way the W/Hs are made the large lip tends to catch everything when it drains. It would be nice if they were made with the drain at the low point IMHO!
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:17 PM   #5
Mark N.
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by WaltBennett

I've found that draining & then flushing (just turning on a water source) does a good job of getting all the crud out of the bottom. Usually let the water run for fifteen minutes or so. Getting it off the anode sometimes can be more work.
Yes, flushing I believe, should happen at least twice a year. As you said, it keeps the sediment out of the bottom of the tank. It also keeps the anode plug threads from rusting into the tank and making removal a bugger of a bear. Breaking them loose twice a year (at least) and re-wrapping them with teflon tape does wonders. (Don't evr use anti-seize...It is toxic) Now the anode rod and the heating element are not going to be cleaned hardly at all by flushing. This is where the acidic de-scaling does wonders. It removes the calcium deposits that literally encase the heating element. This is where most of the sediment that accumulates in the bottom of the tank comes from. It is constantly flaking off of the heating element primarily. Of course some accumulates on the tank walls themselves that won't be removed by flushing either. Again, a periodic de-scaling really reduces this by a large degree. This flushing and de-scaling is actually a good practice in a home hot water heater too, unless you have soft water. Dilute muriatic acid is often used in that application, but it requires great care in handling. It has a pH that is truly dangerous. I have muriatic acid I use to balance the pH in a 500 gal. hot tub, but I take real precautions when handling the stuff.
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Old 10-23-2014, 03:18 PM   #6
Mark N.
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Bill-N-Donna


Ive always used a shop vac and a clear thin hose attached to the vac and tried to suck out all the gunk that I could. With the way the W/Hs are made the large lip tends to catch everything when it drains. It would be nice if they were made with the drain at the low point IMHO!
Ha! I've though that every time I do it!
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:11 PM   #7
rich2118
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I was under the impression that Atwood water heaters do NOT have an anode. Is this correct? Thanks.
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Old 10-23-2014, 06:54 PM   #8
rohrmann
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If your water heater has an anode, it is a Suburban unit, which has a porcelain (glass) lined steel tank. If there is not an anode, it will be an Atwood unit that has an aluminum tank.
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Old 10-25-2014, 09:47 PM   #9
rich2118
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Thanks rohrmann. I've only had my 2014 Monty 3610 since March and I'm definitely on the learning curve regarding this unit. Appreciate the response back.
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Old 10-26-2014, 05:01 AM   #10
jlb27537
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I did mine yesterday. The OEM anode rod was down to the wire center in spots and the heater element, while still working great was coated quite well. Replaced both.

There are 2 different anode's available, aluminum and magnesium. You will want the aluminum one if you have a Suburban heater.

I have a tool, a piece of small copper tubing, about 16" long that attaches to the garden hose that will reach in and flush it out quite well.

A caution I have learned, if you just take the anode rod out it will burp and takes a while to drain. If you open the TP valve it will drain much faster. The problem you create is most of the TP valves will have some lime build up in them and when you close them you run the risk of it dripping when you turn the heater back on. If it is dripping it is also loosing the air trapped in the top of the tank which is necessary to control the pressure build up when you heat water.

Jim
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Old 10-26-2014, 10:54 AM   #11
kdeiss
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You can buy a plastic wand to connect to your garden hose and flush your tank
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Old 10-26-2014, 11:59 AM   #12
bigred715
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I bought one of those from Camping World to flush out hot water heater and it works great!
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Old 10-26-2014, 12:14 PM   #13
kdeiss
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I agree this is what I use about 2 to 3 times a year I have done the vinigar flush twice 1n 12 years
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Old 10-29-2014, 03:38 AM   #14
mach111
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Found Citrus Acid powder on amazon for 24 cents per oz. Comes in five pound bag. I am going to try this. Besides DW says dishwasher needs cleaning.
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Old 10-29-2014, 06:32 PM   #15
TAKPAK
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Each season, when we put the Monty away for the winter, I pull the anode rod and drain/flush the tank in the following way:

For starters, I use air (40 pounds pressure max) to purge all the lines of water when winterizing. When I hook the air up to my water inlet in the convenience center, BEFORE I turn the air on, I go remove the anode from the tank, with the water still in the tank (electric/propane has been turned off and water cooled down). As the tank starts to drain, I turn the air on. The water comes blasting out of the anode hole, flushing everything with it, plus draining the tank quickly. Works really well, for us anyway. WARNING: The water comes out with a lot of velocity, so anything on that side where the tank is, will get very wet, within a 10 to 15 foot reach.
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Old 10-30-2014, 01:52 AM   #16
mach111
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by jlb27537



A caution I have learned, if you just take the anode rod out it will burp and takes a while to drain. If you open the TP valve it will drain much faster. The problem you create is most of the TP valves will have some lime build up in them and when you close them you run the risk of it dripping when you turn the heater back on. If it is dripping it is also loosing the air trapped in the top of the tank which is necessary to control the pressure build up when you heat water.

Jim
Thanks Jim for this tip. I made this mistake sometime ago and had to replace the valve.
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Old 10-31-2014, 01:14 PM   #17
psomers
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A product that is made for flushing hot water heaters is "CLR". CLR stands for calcium-lime-rust. It is a liquid and Lowes carries it. You can easily install it by removing pressure relief valve and then use a large syringe. The mix is 1 part CLR to 8 parts water. Come to think of it, might be a bit expensive if you want to fill tank. I know it works great on a pressure relief valve that leaks because of calcium build up.
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Old 10-31-2014, 01:34 PM   #18
richfaa
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We were surprised to see that the anode rod was in very good shape but we changed it out anyway. we have one of those little flush things with a hook at the end that cleans out the tank very well.
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Old 10-31-2014, 02:49 PM   #19
Mark N.
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by richfaa

We were surprised to see that the anode rod was in very good shape but we changed it out anyway....
I'm curious: Is there a reason you changed it anyway, even if it was in good shape? I was always told (right or wrong) "If there is metal left on the wire at all, it is still working just fine, put it back in."
I've never swapped one, because I've never had one erode down to nothing. Maybe 50% of new. Then I sold the trailer. Should I have replaced it?
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Old 10-31-2014, 03:23 PM   #20
richfaa
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Quote:
quote:Originally posted by Mark N.

Quote:
quote:Originally posted by richfaa

We were surprised to see that the anode rod was in very good shape but we changed it out anyway....
I'm curious: Is there a reason you changed it anyway, even if it was in good shape? I was always told (right or wrong) "If there is metal left on the wire at all, it is still working just fine, put it back in."
I've never swapped one, because I've never had one erode down to nothing. Maybe 50% of new. Then I sold the trailer. Should I have replaced it?
It was the OEM anode rod and it leaked and I could never stop the slight leak. I had a new rod in my "stuff" box and when I pulled out the OEM rod I noted it has less threads than the new "Camco" rod purchased at Camping world. I thought "what the heck"... I put in the new rod and no leaks...
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