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How To Remove And Prevent Water Heater Sediment Buildup

If the water in your home is forming white scaly deposits in your sinks and on your plumbing fixtures, then you have water with a lot of total dissolved solids (TDS). Water with high levels of TDS is said to be "hard". Hard water is not only an issue for keeping your sinks clean, it is also a serious problem for your water heater and plumbing.

Since the scale buildup you see in your sinks likely pales in comparison to the amount of scale currently building up inside of your water heater, you need to take certain steps to remove it and prevent the scale from re-forming. Hard water is very damaging to the internal workings of hot water heaters and left to its own devices will completely clog and destroy them in a very short period of time. 

Removing Hard Water Scale from Your Home's Water Heater

To remove the existing scale buildup inside of your water heater, follow this simple step-by-step procedure:

  • Turn off the water heater's power
  • Turn off the water heater's cold water supply
  • Connect a garden hose to the drain on the bottom of the water heater
  • Place the other end of the hose in your bathtub
  • Open the drain and let all of the water heater's water drain out

Finally, remove the hose and close the drain valve. Open the cold water supply and allow the water heater to fill with cold water. Once filled, then turn the power back on and let the water heat back up for about an hour before using it. 

Preventing Future Hot Water Heater and Plumbing Problems Caused by TDS Scale

To prevent future scale build up in your water heater, you need to take a three-pronged approach that includes:

  1. buying self-stirring water heaters
  2. flushing out your water heater each year
  3. installing a water softener

Next time you replace your home's water heater, opt for a model that contains a stirring mechanism. Self-stirring water heaters swirl around the water on a regular basis so that sediment doesn't build up in them but rather flows out with the hot water. This prevents them from becoming overly clogged with sediment.

Even if your water heater stirs the water, it will still have some sediment build up if your home's water source produces very hard water. If you do not remove this sediment each year, then it will continue to build up until it ruins the inside of the water heater's tank. For this reason, you should flush out your water heater at least once each year using the procedure outlined above. 

Finally, you can remove the TDS from your home's water supply by installing a water softener. Water softeners use a simple chemical reaction to remove all of the calcium. Since calcium is the main scale-causing mineral in your water, once it has been removed there won't be any more scale forming in your water heater. Call a plumber for more help.