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3 Ways To Combat The Ill-Effects Of Scale In A Hot Water Heater

by Tara Pena

Hard water or water with a high mineral content can cause all sorts of problems for a water heater. That's because the extreme heat inside of the tank causes those minerals to form solid deposits known as scale. Scale can both reduce a water heater's efficiency and shorten its lifespan. This article will teach you three ways to prevent this from happening.

Invest in a water softener for your home.

The two principal elements which lead to scale formation are magnesium and calcium. One good way to keep these minerals from causing problems is to install a water softener. This device works by replacing magnesium and calcium with sodium--a substance that doesn't contribute to scale. It does this through a process called ion exchange.

To be effective, it is important to have your water softener installed near the main supply pipe. If the softener is not installed before the water has reached your heater, scale will continue to cause issues. Installing a water softener is a complicated process. Even if you feel confident you can accomplish it on your own, be sure to consult with a professional before getting the project underway.

Flush the heater at least once a year.

Over time, scale tends to build up at the bottom of a heater, eventually forming a thick layer of sediment. This often results in a noisy heater, which can be annoying. Still worse, that layer of sediment has a negative effect on your water heater's performance, by absorbing heat that ought to be going to the water above. This problem can be effectively mitigated by flushing your heater.

The concept of flushing a heater is fairly simple: a hose is connected to the output valve, and the water inside is allowed to drain out, carrying with it much of that unwanted scale. Before proceeding, however, it is vital that you disconnect the heater's power supply and allow the water inside of the tank to completely cool. Otherwise, you risk burning yourself with scalding water.

Perform a vinegar flush while you're at it.

As long as you're going through the trouble of flushing your tank, you may as well make sure you get the job done right. Consider performing a vinegar flush to remove an even greater amount of scale. Because vinegar is an acidic substance, it will help to loosen dissolve tougher deposits. This will make the flush more effective. To find out more, speak with someone like Miller & Humphrey Plumbing & Electric Inc.