Water Heater Flushing: Good idea or bad idea?

Water Heater Mfr: American Water Heater Co Model: G62-40T34-3N Capacity: 40 gal, gas-heated, 34000 BTU/HR Installed in 1998, Souther California, Very Hard Water, No Water Softening system. 6 year Mfr warranty. Never maintained.
Currently makes gurgling sounds (like marbles rolling around in tank) when hot water faucet downstairs is turned on. Is draining/flushing the water heater now (something that should have been done every 6-12 months) a bad idea?
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VQ wrote:

I can't imagine it would be a bad idea, although it may not help/cure the problem (although it sure sounds like a sediment issue; it's hard to get it all out of a neglected tank.)
I would buy a couple caps for garden hose fittings before you do this, regular readers of this group will recall that I just replaced the drain valves on all my water heaters with ball valves last month as the POs of my house apparently never used the drain valves, and they all leaked after they were opened. So I needed to cap them off to keep my basement from getting all soggy :( In fact, you may wish to do the ball valve thing anyway (use a 3/4" dielectric nipple, found in the water heater section of your local Big Box, a 3/4" pipe thread ball valve, and a 3/4" male pipe to garden hose adapter to make your own) as a ball valve allows far greater flow than a spigot, for better flushing action.
more reading here:
http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/sediment-in-hot-water-heaters.html
At 6 yrs. you might want to check the anode as well; that's a typical warranty period for a HWH so the anode may be due for replacement.
good luck
nate
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Nate Nagel wrote:

http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Longevity/sediment-in-hot-water-heaters.html

Forgot to mention, that noise may also be a heat trap nipple, in which case it's nothing to worry about, but you won't make it go away unless you remove it and replace it with a regular nipple - in which case you should replumb the inlet and outlet of the tank with an S-curve in the pipes to act as the heat traps you've just removed.
nate
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Flushing now may extend the life of the water heater, or may not. If you break the valve, not uncommon with the cheap ones that come with the water heater, then you will have a bit of a mess on your hands and a cheap repair.
If you do flush it, I would expect it will fail in about two years and you will blame the flushing, if you don't it will fail in about 18 months and you will blame that on not flushing. :-)

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wrote:

the noise doesnt effect operation or heater lifetime, its just annoying unless you decide to ignore it. theres a great chance of breaking the valve or having to remove it altogether and replace with ball valve, the sludge will clog a regular valve.
Heaters are cheap simple devices I would leave it alone till it fails, or buy a new heater, and trash the old one.
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We also have very hard water, and my waterheater did the same thing. I flushed it and all kinds of nasty white crap came out. It started rumbling again in about 3 months. So I flushed it again and more garbage came out. It started rumbling again. I gave up after that. I got a new waterheater and watersoftner, and no more rumbling....ever.
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Odly enough this very topic was covered today on a re run of ask this old house ........
Rich T the plumber said if a tank is old its best to leave it be unless its had regular service every couple years since frequently it will cause either a instaneous or premature failure. he did a autopsey on a old tank that failed 2 months after he flushed it. the bottom half of the tank was totally filled with crud, the lower element had a heavy crust of gunk, the anode rods nearly disappeared.
his pro opinion, old tanks shouldnt be disturbed if they havent had regular maintence
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replying to VQ, VQ wrote:

I am the OP. Located this thread after doing a Google Search. I just wanted to add this note, for the record:
The above water heater finally started leaking in 4/2014 (after 15 years !) I had never flushed or maintained the system in any way.
I would have bought another American Water Heater to replace it, but I went to Home Depot and they only carry Rheem. Replacing it with a Rheem XG40T12HE40U0
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On Sat, 19 Apr 2014 18:44:02 +0000, VQ

So what year were you having the marble sounds?

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replying to micky , vq wrote:

Marble sounds sometime in 2007, about a year or two after the warranty was out. I ignored it for 6 more years. Lol!
It's amazing how some of these 6-year-warranty water heaters can take that much abuse and still continue to work. Good job on a well-built product, American Water Heater Company!
My new Rheem water heater has a 12-year warranty. Electronic ignition, and there is supposedly something that stirs (?) the water in there to retard sediment build-up. Hopefully, I'll remember to flush the system at least once a year to keep some of that sediment out :^)
When the plumber drained the old water heater before removal, strangely not much sediment came out the hose. (I was expecting to see rusty water, and tons of sediment) That water heater was leaking from the top, down the sides; the top inlet/outlet pipes at the water heater were corroded and had small pools of water at the connectors. I have pics, but I don't think there's a way to post them here.
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replying to vq, VQ wrote:

inlet/outlet
Pics of my water heater attached... click to open the full size version of the image click to open the full size version of the image click to open the full size version of the image
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I used to drain my tank every few months, but nothing but water ever came out!
Worse the drain valve cracked, I replaced it the next day but 2 weeks later the tank leaked at the valve and had to be replaced....
so these days I install a new tank and leave it be till it leaks, on average 12 years later.
the boiling sound is hard water build up inside tank.
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The mineral deposits inside the tank tend to bond to the side and bottom of the tank, so I'm not sure that flushing does a whole lot of good. Some tanks come with a corkscrew style dip tube that purportedly swirls the supply water, but again, I suspect that's more marketing fluff than reality. Unless you are filling a bathtube, there really isn't enough demand to swirl a 40-50 gallon tank of water.
Truth is there are only a handful of water heater manufacturers in the US and there is no difference in the quality of the warranty vs the length of the tank. The preimum paid for longer warranty heaters just goes to pay the couple of extra claims they get and to help increase the margin.
If you have hard enough water that mineral buildup in the heater is a problem, you really should have a softener.
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replying to Arthur Conan Doyle , vq wrote:

and

tank.

problem,

I checked the 40-gallon natural gas models from Rheem at Home Depot with the 6, 9 and 12-year warranty (about $350, $450 and $550 respectively).
Only the 9 and 12 year models have the mechanism to stir the mineral deposits around. And they have a better anode and insulation, or something like that... The 12-year model has a brass drain valve; the 9-year model has a plastic one. I figured if I was going to mess with that drain valve annually, I better get the brass one.
In retrospect, maybe I should have gotten a water softener installed when I bought this house (new) in 1998. But I hear water softeners can erode the anode in water heaters at a faster rate?
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On Sat, 19 Apr 2014 22:41:52 -0600, Arthur Conan Doyle

The "turbulator" inlets DO reduce sedimentation significantly. It doesn't have to swirl the total 40 gallons - just the bottom where the sediment tries to settle.

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I agree. Those drain valves are crap.
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