It’s certainly not a part of your house that you really mess with much. So why is it so important to keep your hot water heater clean? The short answer is to keep it functioning. But if you want to know how a lack of cleaning can cause your hot water heater to quit functioning, then read on.
How A Hot Water Heater Gets Dirty
All the water that finds its way into your water heater has to come from somewhere. And at one point that somewhere was outside. The process differs significantly depending on where you are, and the kind of water you have coming into your home. If you are on municipal water, there is a large central treatment plant where all the water is filtered and purified before entering the water main where all the homes in the area draw from. If you are on well water, there is simply a pump that pulls the water up from an aquifer far below the house. Each location runs into very similar issues however.
When your home is hooked up to municipal water, the water spends a lot of time sitting in pipes. Not all the pipes in the city are going to be new, and quite a few are going to have significant mineral deposits in them. As the water flows through it will pick up some of the mineral deposits and sediment in the pipes. When that water enters into your hot water heater it comes to a rest until the then heated water is needed once more. When the water comes to rest it no longer has the kinetic energy to hold the particles it has picked up in the pipes, and they are released, floating to the bottom of the tank. Over time the amount of buildup on the bottom of the tank can become significantly detrimental to the performance of your water heater.
Drawing your water in from a well will not save you from the onslaught of sediment entering your water heater either. The water that you are drawing up from the aquifer is pure and safe water to drink, but because of the rock layer it is being pulled from, it comes with many particles and dissolved minerals. These particles and minerals will gather on the bottom of your water heater and inhibit its proper functionality.
What Sediment Does To A Water Heater
Sediment buildup is actually the cause of most untimely deaths in water heaters, both electric and gas, because of its thick insulative properties. Insulation is an important part of a hot water heater, but the last place you want to have it is on the bottom of the tank, in between your heat source and the water. As this insulating blanket thickens the more energy it takes to heat the water in your tank. Making the older water heater appear to be much less efficient that it should be. If the blanket of sediment gets too thick it will cause many different kinds of failure in your water heater. In electric water heaters, the sediment can bury the lower element, causing it to overheat, and burn out completely. This essentially puts an end to the flow of hot water coming from your water heater. In gas water heaters, it can create a far more serious issue. If the sediment buildup gets too thick in a gas water heater, it will cause the burner to work harder, and harder. Burning more and more hot until the heat from the burner causes the tank itself to crack. When this happens, the water in the heater flows out all over the floor of your home. This can cause hundreds of dollars of damage!
How Do I Clean A Water Heater?
There’s a lot of information out there on the best way to clean a water heater, but our recommendation is to focus on sediment removal. Removal of the sediment plays a huge role in the the longevity of your water heater. There are specialized tools for the extraction of sediment from a water heater. We’d recommend looking at the Turbo Tank Cleaner. It’s durable construction and clear plastic housing make it long lasting, and incredibly easy to use.