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Old 06-09-2015, 06:42 PM   #1
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FLUSHING OUT hot water tank...

I could not find the Thread about calcium sediments in their older Airstream's Hot Water Tank. I made a post and had something to add for everyone else. So here it goes.

Using the exterior City Water connection today, I flushed the hot and cold water lines, bled the air from the hot and cold lines to the sinks, toilet, shower and out door shower. After all of that, I removed the nylon plug for the exterior hot water drain and let it drain.

Once the hot water tank was pretty much empty, I turned the water connected to the City Water exterior connections and turned the water from my house back on. The water flows and helps to clean out the sediment settled in the tank after I drained it from the last trip.

Even after using the trailer for its first year, there was calcite sediment coming out of the tank. It is white and looks like clumps of small snow flakes. I also can take our hose and flush from the drain hole and agitating the interior, then running the city water pressure through a second time.

We never had calcite problems with our 2006 and the water lines never had a mildew taste as I was always flushing before we leave and after we return. It might take thirty minutes, but well worth it. The 2014 will get the same attention.

I will also add five to six gallons of water to the fresh water tank and let the first leg of the trip slosh the fresh water around and then drain the fresh water tank. This can be done with the grey and black water as well after you dump and rinse at the dump site. Keeps everything operating smoothly and stays clean.

Don't have the time? You will when something goes wrong and have to pay someone to do it for you.
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:04 PM   #2
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Interesting idea, but if you want to avoid contaminating your fresh water tank, get yourself a female garden hose fitting with a 3/8" barbed fitting. Then get about 18' or so of 3/8" diameter clear plastic tubing from Lowes or Home Despite and put it on the barbed fitting.
Then connect it to your hose the you use to fill your fresh water tank.
Next step is to remove the pressure relief valve from your hot water heater, and open the drain valve of the hot water heater. Let it drain all of the water from the heater, then put the 3/8" tube into the opening where the pressure relief valve was, and turn on your hose full force.
You will be amazed at how bunch calcium comes out of the water heater.
A side benefit is that you are not contaminating the rest of your fresh water system.

For whatever it's worth

Larry
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Old 06-09-2015, 07:16 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry C View Post
Interesting idea, but if you want to avoid contaminating your fresh water tank, get yourself a female garden hose fitting with a 3/8" barbed fitting. Then get about 18' or so of 3/8" diameter clear plastic tubing from Lowes or Home Despite and put it on the barbed fitting.
Then connect it to your hose the you use to fill your fresh water tank.
Next step is to remove the pressure relief valve from your hot water heater, and open the drain valve of the hot water heater. Let it drain all of the water from the heater, then put the 3/8" tube into the opening where the pressure relief valve was, and turn on your hose full force.
You will be amazed at how bunch calcium comes out of the water heater.
A side benefit is that you are not contaminating the rest of your fresh water system.

For whatever it's worth

Larry
This sounds like a great idea. I already have the fitting and tubing, I use it when I fill the fresh water tank with a hose.
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Old 06-09-2015, 08:40 PM   #4
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Ray, you can buy wands that are designed to flush the HW tank. Just a few bucks.
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Old 06-10-2015, 08:47 AM   #5
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How much of that "white flakes" was from the sacrificial anode?
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Old 06-10-2015, 10:12 AM   #6
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Here is what I have. Water Heater Tank Rinser - Camco 11691 - Water Heaters - Camping World

Mine is an older model that uses a copper tube rather than plastic. I've had it over 25 years and I usually do the tank cleaning at the end of the season. I am a believer in keeping the tank clean. My original travel trailer had a Suburban hot water heater and I had that trailer 14 years. When I sold it, the original water heater was still in it and functioning perfectly. That white scale that comes out does line the sides of the tank. Most home water heaters fail in the long run due to the build up of this crud. It inhibits the transfer of heat and slowly solidifies.

The amount of white stuff is dependent upon the frequency of use of your trailer and the mineral content of the water supply.

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Old 06-10-2015, 09:35 PM   #7
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Do you still need to flush tank other than at end of season if you use portable water softener and always have soft water?
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Old 06-10-2015, 11:49 PM   #8
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I think once a year is sufficient. I tried it a couple of times a year but found that very little came out. It just depends on how much you use the trailer and the mineral content of the water.

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Old 08-10-2015, 07:28 AM   #9
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Top bleed valve will not come off. it is not designed to and I didn't want to damage it or the tank with brute force. Instead I took off the plastic pipe connection near the pump and put the pipe into a gallon of vinegar. Turn on the bathroom HOT tap until the vinegar has been sucked up into the hot tank by the pump. Some recommend 4 gallons. Rejoin the pipe to the pump. Leave the vinegar for a day then drain, refill, drain again. If you want the vinegar to go through to the hot taps, run them a little and leave them to soak too. It would be good if Attwood thought about lime scale flushing but, hey, they want you to buy another heater!


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Old 08-10-2015, 07:45 AM   #10
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That's a lot of work and if you want to get rid of the scale, use a tank rinser once a year. It takes no more than 5 minutes and is very effective. Keeping that tank clean will give that tank a long, long life. For all intents we would get much longer life from our home water heaters if we did the same to them.

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Old 08-10-2015, 09:21 AM   #11
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Atwoods are made from a mix of aluminum and magnesium. The metal is the sacrificial anode and Atwood says don't use an anode.
The others will most likely have an anode that wants to be replaced from time to time.
Working hospital maintenance I saw 50 year old water hot water heaters. Periodic maintenance was at least once a year open the bottom drain and let it run until clear. No vinegar, special rinsing devices, etc.
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Old 08-10-2015, 09:41 AM   #12
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Working hospital maintenance I saw 50 year old water hot water heaters. Periodic maintenance was at least once a year open the bottom drain and let it run until clear. No vinegar, special rinsing devices, etc.
Hospitals also have stricter water quality requirements than nearly any other type of facility, requirements which includes a very low water hardness, so there are no calcium salts to remove from hospital water heaters in the first place; the water softeners and other treatment devices near the municipal water supply entrance take care of that.

I've seen residential electric water heaters explode in southwest Oklahoma when I was a kid, where the water has as much dissolved calcium as the law allows. Okay, I never witnessed one in the act of exploding, but I've seen three that did explode, one of which was our next door neighbor's. Woke up the whole block when it blew up!

It was inevitable in those days and in that part of the country because one of the biggest open-pit gypsum mines in the United States is located nearby, and the groundwater is still so hard you open the faucet and break off a piece when you're thirsty, but worse in those days before EPA developed their Primary Drinking Water Standards. The reason the water heaters exploded is because calcium salts would get caked on the electric heating elements and act as insulation. The heating elements get a lot hotter than the water, and when the calcium deposits cracked, cold water would hit the extra-hot heating elements and flash into steam, which then couldn't escape through the pressure relief valve fast enough. Boom! These days there's even a name for itó BLEVE, Boiling Liquid Expanding Vapor Explosion.

Water heaters are designed better these days, but hard water can still cause a problem. On a dual electric/propane RV water heater, if I lived in an area known for having hard water, I'd use it in propane mode only, not in electric mode, and I'd flush it to remove calcium deposits every time I winterized.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:30 AM   #13
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Hospitals also have stricter water quality requirements than nearly any other type of facility, requirements which includes a very low water hardness, so there are no calcium salts to remove from hospital water heaters in the first place; the water softeners and other treatment devices near the municipal water supply entrance take care of that.

Not sure where you got that idea from.
The only softeners I've ever seen in a hospital were for boiler and chiller supply water. Softening the water for even a small 30 bed municipal hospital would be ridiculously expensive and there is no real benefit to soft water.
Also water softening does nothing for dissolved solids in the water (non mineral), which also contributes to scaling.
The local municipal water company follows EPA and Public Health guidelines. The hospital, in addition to the municipal checks, also samples the water to ensure the quality. Hot water lines have a recirculation line so that the hot water doesn't sit still and start to grow.
Every water heater, steam driven, gas or electric, connected to the main hospital water supply, or off campus, always had a little residue blow out. One 50 year old water heater was in a former house converted to a flower shop with its own city water account, no softener and very high dissolved solids.
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Old 08-10-2015, 10:46 AM   #14
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Not sure where you got that idea from.
Directly from the Environmental Protection Agency, when I was doing research on water treatment for a project I was assigned at work at the Corps of Engineers, to design a water treatment system for one of our manned field sites that was getting a new water well. I don't still have my research— I passed it on to my successor when I retired— so I can't quote chapter and verse.

But like most Government regulations, I suppose there's a grandfather clause, so that hospitals whose systems predate the requirements don't have to upgrade just to meet the requirements, but new hospitals and those who do major plumbing rehab need to comply.

And I am well aware that water softeners alone don't address all sources of scaling. I specifically said "water softeners and other treatment devices."

But you know what I found funny about the hospital regulations? The laundry (if they have their own laundry facilities and don't use an outside contractor) has the most stringent requirement of all for water quality.

But that's off-topic when it comes to treating an RV water heater to remove scaling; the point I was trying to make is that just because hospital water heaters may not have scaling without vinegar or special rinsing devices being used is not transferable to RV water heaters, that may need vinegar and/or special rinsing devices to remove scale.
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