Bacteria Problems In Water Heaters

Sediment causes many problems in your water heater. Among these is bacterial growth. These aren’t typically disease causing bacteria, but they do oxygenate and corrode the lining of a water heater. This is compounded with high amounts of heat and sediment can be very destructive.

Remember, if you can detect a sulfur smell or rotten-eggs odor, you may have a bacteria problem in your water heater. Don’t be confused by a potential natural gas leak which can have a similar smell. They are both serious problems which need to be corrected immediately.

Build-Up Of Sediment (Scale) Inside Water Heaters

Their are natural minerals in all water that flows into your water heater. When heat is applied to the water, the minerals come out of solution and fall to the bottom of your water heater tank. The sediment is usually calcium carbonate in most areas of the country. On a gas water heater the sediment falls to the bottom of the tank and sits on the burner plate where the flame is directly underneath. Sediment is a barrier that heat cannot pass through very easily. The glass lining on the inside of a tank-type water heater will begin to disintegrate slowly at temperatures of 160 degrees or higher. The metal on the burner plate at the bottom can deform as well.

Sediment build-up can lead to water heater leaks. Your electric water heater may suddenly quit producing nearly the amount of hot water as it did just days earlier. Most likely sediment has covered the lower heating element. If you have a gas water heater and its noisy, then you may have sediment build-up. A sulfur odor is an indication of a sediment build-up problem.

Softening hot water will slow sediment build-up but it will reduce the longevity of your anode rod inside your hot water heater.

Sediment can be slowed if you reduce the temperature in the water to 130 degrees. Sediment can grow rapidly in heat above 140 degrees or higher but 130 degrees still kills bacteria that can harm human beings. The bacteria that causes legionnaires’ disease grows at temperatures up to 115 degrees.

Here’s How To Control Sediment

Fill a container full of hot water at a tap in the house. Make sure it is hot. Put a meat thermometer in it. Note the temperature. Now if you have a gas water heater, you can turn the control knob at the bottom hotter or colder. The knob says ON OFF PILOT on it.

Sometimes there is a small adjustment knob in the center of the ON OFF PILOT control. It can be used to reduce the size of the flame on the burner plate.

In an electric water heater, you can have a low-watt density element installed in your tank in order to reduce the high temperatures produced and thus reduced sediment in your tank. Don’t worry, your water will still be as hot because the low-watt density element is twice the size and has twice the surface area from which to heat the water.

If your water pressure inside the house is over 50 psi, then have a pressure reduce installed by a plumber for your water heater. High pressures cause sediment to form quicker.

Dissolving Sediment Chemically

You can by a chemical descaler from A.O. Smith called Mag-Erad. It can only be used when the gas is off and their is no water inside the gas water heater. The instructions may say to leave the gas on while using the product. Don’t or you’ll damage the flue. You can use the product for electric water heaters no problem, just empty the water heater first. You should have a licensed plumber install a curved dip tube and flush te water heater.

The Curved Dip Tube Flush Method Of Removing Sediment

Most water heaters come equipped with a straight dip tube as the standard. Water enters through the cold water inlet and down the dip tube to the bottom of the water heater. The force of the water cleans the small section at the bottom of the water heater only, but leaves the rest of the water heater’s dome-shaped bottom covered in sediment. Draining the water heater with the drain valve will only remove a small amount of sediment that’s near the drain valve itself.

Installing a curved dip tube makes the water swirl around the dome-shaped bottom of the water heater. Swirling water full of sediment can now be forced out the drain valve with a five minute full force flushing.

Installing a curved dip tube begins with shutting off the incoming water to your house and then remove the cold water nipple on the right side of the water heater. Insert a pair of plastic handled pliers in the cold water inlet and unscrew the original dip tube. Use the pliers to pull the dip tube up and out of the water heater. Remove any rust preventing you from doing this. Mark the direction of the curve in the new curved dip tube at the top of it with a marker. Wrap the nipple with teflon tape eight times on its threads and insert the new curved dip tube in the opening with the marked side pointing along side the wall but going the long way around the bottom of the water heater towards the drain valve.

Have a plumber install a 3/4 inch ball valve for a drain valve. It rinses with a larger opening compared with a plastic drain valve.

Removing Sediment In Commercial Water Heaters

If you hear a lot of noise coming from your commercial water heater or smell a foul odor, then you may need to remove the sediment building up inside.

Removing sediment in a commercial gas water heater will save 5% on energy bills, but doesn’t save much in an commercial electric water heater.

If you have a commercial water heater, turn off the gas or electricity and turn the water to the cold line off as well as any recirculating system needs to be turned off. Next, open the T&P valve to relieve pressure off the lines and allow draining of the water through the drain valve. Attach a water hose to the drain valve to allow water to drain out. If nothing comes out, then sediment is blocking the drain line. Remove the drain valve and break up the sediment with a screwdriver. Remove any rust there too. Beneath the open drain valve port is where a drain pan should be put. Continue to flush as much sediment as possible. If you want to remove all the sediment, hire a plumber to do so.

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