Anything I can pour into water heater that will dissolve deposits?

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Is there anything I can pour into a water heater that will dissolve mineral deposits and definitely not damage anything inside the tank? Hopefuly something that will work in a somewhat diluted solution since buying enough Lime-Away etc. to fill far enough to reach the lower element obviously isn't practical.
The tank is installed in such a way that once drained it would be simple to detach it and move it around so rinsing and draining several times shouldn't be too much of a hassle.
Thanks for all input.
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wrote:

I'd use muriatic acid on just the element. If you can't get the element out due to corrosion, then put some acid in a spray bottle and cut the lime with that until it is out. Then put a couple cups in a capped pvc pipe and dunk/rinse.
You can get the acid at a pool place if your local borg doesn't carry it.
Use goggles, gloves & a respirator- and wear your old jeans.

I'd rather replace the tank than remove/fill/rinse/rinse/rinse, & roll around in between each rinse.
Jim
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...
I second that motion. The metal of the tank is not impervious to most anything used that will attack "stone".
Better to run your hot water fill through an RO unit... or at least some of its makeup.
David A. Smith
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Doc wrote:

Two hings come to mind. (1) Fill it with a cider vinegar solution and let it set for awhile should work and is pretty safe.. (2) would be a muratic acid solution, which would do the trick, but is much more potent and so, harder to determine strength of solution and time to let work. So I would try the vinegar first. a gallon of vinegar is realitive inexpensive and fairly safe to use. As actually you could taste the solution to determine how stong it was without any danger. Not so with muratic acid!
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is the tank old? probably:(
Its a bad investment in time and money.
the crud you clean will likely cause a leak either short term or long term.
besides a new hot water tank will reward you in greater capacity and overall lower operating expenses.
new tanks are foam lined and much more efficent than old ones.
to prevent this from reoccuring buy a new tank and add a water conditioner, no more crud in tank.
whats a nice new warrantied 12 year tank cost installed?
around 500 bucks.
but think in 12 years thats less than 42 bucks a year.
geez that isnt even the cost of a candy bar a week.
disturbing old tanks results in leaks............
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

Depending on where the tank is located.... If the tank blows and starts spewing water everywhere it can cause more than $500.00 damage. I think getting a new tank is a good idea.
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I installed new maybe 5 - 6 months ago. I figure I should drain & clean it out at least twice a year, lots of minerals in the water around here - central Florida. The "stuff" in the bottom of the tank seems to build up quick. I used to do the old one maybe every year and a half or so but that seemed like too long an interval. I got about 19 years out of it.
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I think anything strong enough would damage the parts of the tank like where the drain valve is, I dought its 100% glass lined, call the manufacturer.
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wrote:

I can't imagine anyone using muratic acid. Even diluted, it will attack metal because it is a strong acid, unlike acetic acid (vinegar) which is a weak acid. High-school chemistry.
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If not properly rinsed out and diluted, it will also be on your face in the shower. I'd rather not risk it.
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ask this old house had a piece on this, rich flushed the tank, fixed a minor leak but warned it might not work. 2 months later the tank failed, and they did a autopsey:)
Although he had repeatedly flushed with powerful streams of water the tank was half full of gunk, they had cut a hole in it.
thats why he always recoimmends replacing tanks full of junk, because they are near their end of life and will soon fail.
trying to flush with enough vinegar to do much will likely cost 50 bucks, have you priced vinegar lately?
just pouring a gallon or two in will be ineffective
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wrote:

I'll second the vinegar method. I would NOT use any acid or chemicals in a device that provides fresh water. Personally, I'd just open the drain valve and flush it for a half hour, then shut off the cold water supply valve and drain the tank, refill and repeat once again.
When you drain the tank, open at least one hot water faucet in the house to allow air to enter into the tank.
To those who suggest replacing a (working) tank, you got way too much money. I'd be happy to take some off your hands.
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snipped-for-privacy@thecesspool.com wrote:

I think that they are suggesting that he not waste time and money and replace the tank. Obviously the tank is not working right or the op would not have posted the inquiry.
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replace it. period.
you also have a Mg anode rod in it to contend with. once that is gone, you get electrolytic corrosion that makes a blowout a matter of time. its not a question of "if". its a matter of "when."
as far as softening goes, (the quality of the rest of the pipes in your house (especially the hot water pipes) can be just as suspect as your hot water heater) it's cheap insurance. it preserves your pipes and your hot water tank. and it doesn't use that much water on recharge. it exchanges out Ca, Mg, preferentially, and Fe and Mn if you add a calcium chloride pretreatment tank.
they are sized based on how much water you use and how much and what kind of hardness you have. adding on a softener now can bring your pipes back over time, if they've narrowed from deposits.
you'll find that your soaps do a MUCH better job cleaning. at a much lower usage rate.
no. i don't work for culligan or kinetico. i lived with unbelievably hard water in IN and CT before i went the softened water route here in NH. there's no going back.....
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On Dec 8, 10:50 pm, do snipped-for-privacy@do.com wrote:

Not at all the case, it's about 6 months old, I'm just looking at preventative maintenance. On the old one that was replaced, I used to drain it with a hose, then remove the bottom element, go through the hole and break up the mineral buildup inside with a long stiff wire, suck the stuff out with a wet/dry vac, adding more water as I went with curved piece of automotive hose with the end cut at an angle and duct-taped to the end of the vac - this allowed me to get all around inside the tank. Then flushed it out again and then reinstalled the bottom element.
I was just wondering if there was anything I could use to chemically break up the sediment without manually going in there and breaking it up as described above, maybe hitting when the sediment buildup wasn't as advanced.
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Dear Doc:
wrote: ...

And how.

...
http://www.approvedarticles.com/Article/7-more-maintenance-tips-for-water-heaters/2818 http://www.floridasoftwater.com/facts.cfm
Some sales blurb on softeners: http://www.waterfilter-usa.com/page.html?chapter=0&id2&zenid 9ceff20c96b07dad78dd827af9f971
David A. Smith
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Just buy a new one. It may seem wasteful, but once they are that bad, it is too late to do any fixing. If you try you would just end up with it failing for some other reason in the next few months.
If you live in an area where the water tends to cause deposit problems, just make sure you drain the new one often. Make sure it has or you provide a good quality drain valve.

--
Joseph Meehan

Dia \'s Muire duit
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wrote:

Absolutely not.
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Here in Tucson, the mineral content is high, but instead of forming hard scale, the deposits are thin and soupy and easy to flush out. If the deposits are muddy, I'd recommend backflushing first. This will involve disconnecting some pipes.
When removing scale by any means, be sure to drain water from the heater valve and don't run it forward through the household system, or you may end up with bigger problems if chunks and pebbles of dislodged minerals run into the pipes, and a monster plumbing bill. .
You can use any acid, or citric acid, and let it sit in the heater for some time without heat. Then drain or backflush. Don't expect success, though, it's a tough, nasty job and some scale just won't budge.
Dangerous Bill
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wrote:

Bill,
Is your water softened? If so, the stuff you're removing isn't the same as the typical hard water build up. IIRC, the softener converts calcium carbonate (hard stuff) to sodium bicarbonate which is flaky when dry but mushy (thin and soupy?) when wet. Flushing or dissolving sodium bicarbonate is relatively easy.
Just remember the "IIRC" I qualified my chemistry with : )
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