Saturday, January 17, 2004

Water heater draining

cups with sedimentA few days ago I set out to drain our water heater. Why, you ask? Well, for a while now it had been making popping noises whenever it turned on, and we finally figured out that those noises meant that there was probably sediment buildup in the tank. To take care of sediment buildup we learned that one needs to drain the tank.

I read the instructions on how to drain the tank (which included the statement "the water heater should be drained every 6 months" ... is 4.5 years really significantly different from 6 months?) and it all seemed simple enough. Removing all the jargon the instructions boiled down to one line: "open the spigot at the bottom of the tank, dummy."

So, I opened the spigot. And waited. After a few minutes with a grand total of about 2 drops coming out, I realized that something was wrong. Long story short, it turns out that the sediment (mostly salts) in the bottom of the tank had plugged up the spigot, so I got to spend the next half an hour threading a plastic tie through the spigot to allow the water to slowly drain out.

I collected the first 6 cups of water that I got out of the water heater, and took the picture above after the sediment had settled to the bottom. There were fully 2 cups of sediment in the first 6 cups of fluid.

sediment on the groundOnce the flow got going (I ended up turning on the cold water inlet to the water heater to help force the sediment out) I set up a hose and let the water drain in the gutter, which quickly looked like someone had scattered sea salt across it. All that white stuff in the picture to the left is salt that was once in our water heater. That's a quarter for scale, and that's probably less than one fourth the area the salt was spread out over.

Moral of the story: if you haven't drained your water heater in 4.5 years, it may well be time to do so :)

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