Lime is an inorganic material that contains calcium, carbonates, oxides and hydroxides. Given its composition, it’s possible that lime can cause scale build up in your hot water heater. If scale is present in your hot water heater, it will typically look like white particles or little pieces of paper. The presence of scale in your hot water heater can do more than prevent the unit from operating at peak efficiency. It can also shorten your water heater’s useful life.
Luckily, you can perform some basic tasks to avoid having to replace your hot water heater prematurely, including:
- Flushing. To flush your hot water heater, you’ll need to drain it. Before you drain your unit, turn off the gas or electricity that powers it and turn off the cold water supply valve. Open the hot water tap on the sink that’s closest to your hot water heater to help it drain faster. Fasten a hose to the drain valve that’s located near the base of your water heater. Place the other end of the hose at a location that’s away from your home — a place where the water can drain safely. Remember, the water that drains out of your water heater will be very hot and potentially dangerous when it’s first released, so place the end of your hose away from people and animals.
The next step to flushing your water heater is to open the drain valve and let the water exit your unit. When your water heater is empty, close the drain valve, open the water supply, turn the gas or electricity back on, and turn off the open tap in the sink.
If you’re not comfortable flushing your water heater on your own, contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Oneida. One of our licensed plumbers will be happy to flush your water heater for you.
- Using Vinegar. You can prevent or slow the build up of scale in your hot water heater by using vinegar after you’ve drained your tank and before you reconnect the power or refill the unit with water. After your water heater is empty, close the drain valve at the bottom of your tank, pour a gallon of cider vinegar into your unit and let the vinegar sit in your tank for a minimum of six hours. Next, use your cold water supply to flush the vinegar out of your water heater. Once the vinegar and water have drained, reconnect your water heater’s gas or electricity supply, close the unit’s draining valve and restore its supply of water.
- Setting the Right Temperature. The hotter the water temperature in your hot water heater, the more calcium will be drawn out of the lime in your water. This means you’ll have more solid calcium deposits on your water heater’s elements if the temperature on your unit is too high. As a general rule, you should set the temperature on your hot water heater to 120 degrees Fahrenheit or so to prevent an excessive build up of scale.
If you’re concerned about scale build up, contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing for a no-charge Plumbing Check Up today.