3 Tactics To Prevent The Build Up Of Scale In Your Hot Water Heater
Hard water poses a significant threat to hot water heaters. When exposed to heat, the minerals in hard water precipitate, forming scale. Over time, this will reduce your heater's efficiency, as well as hasten its ultimate demise. Yet it is possible to minimize the ill effects of scale. This article will explore three of the most effective ways.
Install a water softener.
Scale is caused primarily by two minerals: calcium and magnesium. A water softener is a device that, when hooked up to your home's water supply, uses a chemical process known as ion exchange to neutralize these problematic minerals. This replaces the magnesium and calcium with relatively harmless sodium, which does not form scale.
In order to effectively treat your entire home's water, a softening system must be installed as close as possible to the main water supply pipe. Scale will continue to be a problem unless the water passes through the softener before it reaches the water heater. Be sure to consult with a professional plumber before attempting to install a water softening system on your own.
Flush the tank regularly.
Scale will often build up into a layer of loose sediment at the bottom of your water heater. This can cause your water heater to generate a range of unwanted noises as steam bubbles force their way up through the sediment. Worse still, that sediment will absorb heat--meaning it will take more energy to heat the water inside the tank. Luckily, scale buildup can be effectively removed by flushing the tank.
The flushing process is easy enough that many homeowners choose to undertake it themselves. Just be sure to observe proper safety precautions. Always begin by shutting off the heater's electricity--or turning the thermostat all the way down, for gas heaters. Be sure to wait several hours for the water in the tank to cool before attempting to drain it.
Dislodge stubborn scale using vinegar.
There's no denying that flushing your water heater will do wonders all on its own. But as long as your heater is drained, you can remove even more scale by taking the opportunity to add some vinegar to the tank. You see, vinegar is a weak acid, one that is capable of dislodging and dissolving tough scale deposits from the bottom of your tank. Not only is this an inexpensive way to eliminate scale, it's also easy. All you'll need is two buckets, three hoses, and two gallons of vinegar.