There’s no doubt that hot water heaters are extremely useful. However, sometimes they may develop tank scaling, which is annoying.
This issue is typically observed in areas with a hard water supply. Such water contains dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium, which can deposit on the inner walls of your tank. This deposit, which is also known as limescale, then disrupts the normal functioning of your heater.
Fortunately, there is a simple procedure that you can follow to get rid of this problem. We have discussed that in this guide, so we suggest you read on!
What Are The Symptoms Of Scaling In A Hot Water Tank?
The most obvious symptom of scaling is the deposition of a hard mineral layer inside the tank. You can easily observe the scales if you inspect the tank’s inner walls during this time. If the scales haven’t hardened, the deposit will appear like thick and slimy gunk.
On that note, the deposition of scales inside a hot water tank is accompanied by a range of other symptoms. These symptoms can be detected during regular usage, so you won’t have to open and inspect the tank separately. For your convenience, we have mentioned these symptoms in more detail below.
1. Odd Sounds
The emergence of weird noises is one of the most obvious symptoms of tank scaling. You can often hear distinct popping, knocking or rattling sounds inside the hot water tank. These sounds are caused by the water bubbles attempting to escape the tank’s sediment layer.
2. Clogged Pipes
A blocked pipe or drain valve is another clear indicator of water tank scaling. Besides the tank’s inner walls, the mineral residues can also get deposited on the walls of water supply pipes. Over time, the residues keep accumulating inside the pipes, which causes the water pressure to fall. And if enough minerals get deposited in the pipes, they will become completely blocked.
3. Incorrect Water Temperature
When the inner walls of your hot water tank are covered with mineral residues, the water from it will often have an incorrect temperature. This is because the deposits interfere with the heat exchange mechanism of the heater. Because of that, the water cannot pick up the heat effectively, and as a result, you end up with improperly heated water.
4. The Tank Becomes Empty Too Quickly
This is another common symptom of water tank scaling. When the scale and gunk accumulate inside the hot water tank, it eats up the storage space of the tank to some extent. Consequently, the tank’s capacity decreases, and it becomes empty quickly.
How To Descale A Hot Water Tank?
In this section, we have provided a stepwise procedure to clean and descale the tank of your hot water heater. Before starting, you should gather the necessary tools and materials to finish this task without a hitch. The things you will need for this process are:
- Adjustable wrench
- Drainage hose
- White vinegar or any other descaling chemical
- Teflon tape
Once everything is ready, it is time to begin descaling the tank, as discussed below.
Step 1: Turn Off The Power And Water Supply
The first thing that you need to do is cut the power to your gas or electric heater. For gas-powered heaters, you can do this by simply turning off the gas valve. And in the case of electric water heaters, you will have to flip the power supply switch and unplug the system. Then, you’ll have to shut down the water supply by turning off the water mains.
Step 2: Drain The Storage Tank
In this step, you must drain out the water stored in the tank. You must first relieve the pressure inside the hot water heater to do that. Using the adjustable wrench, you must pull the pressure regulator carefully until there is a noticeable hissing sound. This indicates the pressure has been released from the tank. You can open a hot water tap to relieve any remaining pressure.
Next, attach the drainage hose and open the tank drain valve near the bottom to empty the water. Using the bucket, you can collect water for household activities. Although this is optional, we strongly recommend doing this to prevent the water from being wasted. And after the drainage process is complete, you’ll have to close the drain valve.
Step 3: Remove The Heating Elements And The Anode Rod
Once the tank is empty, you can access the inner components: the heating element and the sacrificial anode rod. The former helps with the heat exchange process, while the latter is a piece of metal that is included inside the tank to prevent rust formation.
In some models, these components may be shielded by an access panel inside the tank. If that’s the case, you will have to remove the screws of the access panel to reveal them. Then, you will have to remove the anode rod from the tank. Be careful here since the anode rod might be corroded and dangerous.
Step 4: Pour White Vinegar Or A Suitable Descaler
Now, you’ll have to pour one gallon (or more if the tank is large) of white vinegar through the relief valve opening. You can also use commercial-grade descaling chemicals as long as you follow the mixing instructions carefully. Make sure to use a funnel to avoid any spills. Subsequently, let the solution sit inside the tank for an hour or two.
After that, turn on the mains’ cold water line and partially fill the tank. Let this solution sit for a few more hours, then flush it from the tank. If you wish, you can scrub the tank walls with a soft brush, but be gentle to prevent any damage to the inner lining. This should get rid of the scaling inside the walls completely.
Step 5: Reinstall The Components And Fill The Tank
Once the scales have been removed, you should put the anode rod and the heating elements back in place. We suggest using a new anode rod if the old one has become too corroded.
After that, you can tighten the pressure regulator and fill the tank with water. Then, you can restore power to the heater and start using it again. However, we advise you to test it before resuming normal operations to be safe.
Why Should You Descale Your Hot Water Tank?
There are several reasons to descale a hot water tank promptly, and the most obvious one is to ensure the proper functioning of your heater. Besides, it helps to prevent tank corrosion, which ultimately extends the service life of your hot water heater.
Not only that, but it will also help to keep your monthly electricity bill in check. Since the scaling will interfere with the heating process, the system will naturally require more electricity to heat up the water. Thus, descaling the tank will eliminate this issue, thereby minimising energy usage.
On a side note, the descaling process will enable you to check the condition of your anode rod and heating elements. If you notice any issues, you can repair or replace them simultaneously, which will be highly convenient for the overall maintenance of your heater.
Cleaning and Descaling Your Hot Water Tank
Now, we have arrived at the end of this guide. We hope you will find this information helpful in cleaning your hot water tank.
Of course, there is a way by which you can prevent this problem from popping up altogether. If you install a water softener, you can eliminate the dissolved minerals from hard water. That, in turn, will prevent mineral residues from being deposited inside the tank’s walls.
As you can see for yourself, the procedure for descaling a hot water tank is quite easy. But if you are not feeling so sure about taking the DIY approach, you can get in touch with us at any time.
Here at Big Blue Plumbing, we have a team of highly skilled plumbers who can get this job done quickly, conveniently and affordably. So, if you choose us, your hot water system will be back to normal in no time!