Hot water heater sediment : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Help! How can we keep so much sediment from building up in our hot water heater. It's up to the bottom element, which is out again. My husband is ready to switch over to city water (we can do that with the use of a flexible metal hose) but I like the healthier, better-tasting, free well water. Is there a powerful chemical that will dissolve the sediment, allowing it to be flushed away? Any advice will be welcomed. Thanks.

-- glynnis in KY (, November 28, 2001


Hi Glynnis;

If you have a problem with sediment you need to flush out your water heater on a regular basis. That's what the hose connedtion is for near the bottom of the tank. I think most manufacturers recommend every month or two in hard water situations. Otherwise every six months is good. Most folks have never flushed theirs out but if you read the paperwork that comes with the heater it is recommended. They also manufacture tanks with a turbo type action that keeps the sediment in suspension. You might want to look at one of those when it's replacement time. Most electric water heaters rot out in 5 to 7 years because of improper preventive maintenance.


-- Ken in Maine (, November 28, 2001.

Something we found helpful in addition to a yearly flushing was to install a "t" connector in the incoming line with the vertical shaft of the "t" connected to a 2 ft length of pvc and a shutoff valve to act as a collector and drain. Much of the sediment would get trapped in the shaft by gravity as it crossed the t fitting. We simply put a bucket under it and opened the valve,to allow the collected sediment to be blown out by the water pressure on a regular maintenance schedule. Our plumber advised that if the configuration did not work optimally due to higher pressure that a mesh screen in the t could probably be sufficient to stop the sediment in the flow enough to allow it to drop into the vertical collection line, but it was never neccesary for our application.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, November 28, 2001.

When you need a new water heater think about an instantaneous one; there's no tank; it goes on when you turn on the hot water and heats the water on demand. We love ours, and it really saves on propane.

-- Katherine in KY (, November 28, 2001.


What brand name is your hot water heater? Is it the wall-mounted one? What is the capacity? We've got an electric heater with a timer, so it only runs about 4 hours each evening. But I'd like to get something different when this one finally kicks the bucket (pun intended). Thanks, Charleen

-- Charleen in WNY (, November 28, 2001.

Sediment builds up in water heaters because the tank is the one relatively calm unit in your potable water system. The water doesn't rush through like it does in a pipe and therefore the sediment has a chance to settle in the calm realm of the tank.

There are basically two fixes. Both require periodic attention from the homeowner. 1. You an install an canister-type water filter (with gate valves on either side) between the pressure tank and your water heater. You will need to periodically clean out and/or change the filter. 2. Periodically flush the sediment from the bottom of your water heater using the sillcock provided by the manufacturer.

-- Steve in So. WI (, November 28, 2001.

We get something like this in the bottom of our hotwater tank also but I believe our is from "hard" water..Don't know if it is the same thing you are dealing with though. We were told we would need a water softener to do away with our problem.I don't beieve the tankless water heaters would work well with us either because of the build up on the coils. I would just clean it out and keep the well water coming into your house. Could you use city water for washing and flushing and the well water for drinking ?? Good Luck !!

-- Helena (, November 28, 2001.

Electric water heaters only last five years here because of the lime in the water, until we "learned" to flush the tank every six months, amazing the amount of crap that comes out!!! The last tank was full of lime clear past the bottom element, it's impossible to safely clean that out and be able to use the tank again without any residue remaining from the cleaner. Learn your "lesson" and get a new water heater and flush it religiously every six months. We learned the hard way too :-) !!!

-- Annie Miller in SE OH (, November 28, 2001.

Put in a water softener and use salt with Lime-Out in it. Then flush the heater once in a while. The softener will save a bunch on soap and once you get used to it you will love it. There is magnetic things you put on the incoming lines that are supposed to take care of it but I don't know anyone that has tried them.

-- Mel Kelly (, November 29, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ