Water Heater Scale. How to tell?

My 40 gal gas water heater is >20 years old and looks in pretty good condition since I keep it clean inside and out.
I normally shower. On the rare occasion I like a good soak. I don't seem to be able to fill a bathtub with hot water as by the time it is 2/3 full tepid water comes out of the faucet. My suspicion is that there is a scale buildup in the heater pipes as the municipal water supply is very hard water.
Is there an easy way to find out if there is scale in the heater pipes? Is there a way to remove the scale or is it a water heater replacement job.
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Have you confirmed that the bottom element is functioning properly? Best way I know to check for scale is by draining water off from the drain plug. You can also pull the bottom element and shine a lite in.
Steve B.
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wrote:

He said: > >My 40 gal gas water heater ..... note the gas part, which goes to no elements.
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Scale will be in the heater much moreso than in the pipes, especially with a gas or oil fired heater. And there's really no way to get it out. That causes longer recovery time and thereby delivery of cooler water to fixtures. This is the prime reason for getting a water softener if you have 5 or more grains per gallon of hardness in the water. A softener will prevent any more scale formation and dissolve some of the scale, in the pipes too if there is any but you will be paying a high fuel bill for hot water.
Gary Quality Water Associates www.qualitywaterassociates.com
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It's 20 years old. You don't want to invest too much into it. But there are two things it may be that are worth doing.
If electric, my guess is one of the heater elements is dead. Cheap and easy to replace.
Gas or electric my have a dip tube problem. If it is broken it needs to be replaced. The part is not expensive, but if you don't have much room above the heater, then replacing it could be a problem.
--
Joseph E. Meehan

26 + 6 = 1 It's Irish Math
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He said: > > My 40 gal gas water heater is .... note the gas part, which says no elements.
You can't keep scale out of a gas or oil fired water heater, nor can you clean it out as in draining or flushing the tank.
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...the above plus...
there is a scale buildup in the heater pipes as the municipal water

...equates to answering your own question. You are well past the normal usefull life and you have an inefficient 'scale bucket' sucking on your utility bill.
Replace it and give your utility bill a break.
-Bob Stan http://www.hbci.com/~sew4uicn ...I love simple things
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