Water Heater Sediment Problem and How to Fix it
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Water heater sediment and limescale build-up troubleshooting guide.
What causes the sedimentation, symptoms and how to fix the problem.
Find out how water heaters, free of mineral deposits, last longer, are
more efficient and better performing.
Water heater sediment and lime-scale build-up are the same as
mineral deposits you will find on dishes, sink or bathtubs. This
problem is present, more or less, in any home. One of the main reasons
for sediment build-up is the hard water, which is rich in calcium. This
“problem” is not a health hazard for you and your family, but it can
severely affect your heater.
Water heater sediments can affect both electric and gas
powered tank and tanklessdevices
by reducing the energy efficiency, heating performance and clogging the
water pathway. If the heater is not maintained correctly, regularly and
per manufacturer’ instructions the sediments might be so thick that
would act as the insulator between the gas burner and water, so you
will basically have no or reduced flow. In cases where the
sedimentation is severe, the tank is not worth cleaning, so it is
better to buy a new unit.
Problems associated with
the mineral deposits
– Popping noise occurs
when water is trapped under the lime deposits. Sizzling or hissing
noise happens when water is boiling to steam underneath the heating
- Sediment build-up might cause the relief
valve dripping. The solution is to drain the heater
fix the TPR
- Surfaces covered by the limescale and exposed to heat become hotter
than if they were clean. As the burner cycles ON and OFF, these
surfaces and connections will be exposed to rapid expansion and
contraction, which can result in cracks.
- Excessive water heater sediments will cause the change in
water color. Flush the unit periodically as part of the regular
maintenance and if necessary, install the filter.
- Clean the bottom of the tank and heating elements, as deposits
might create a cushion between the heat source and water, which can
lead to an insufficient supply and slow recovery. Over time, this
problem can result in a dry fired heating element. As the lower heating
element will cycle more often than the upper element, it will collect
sediments faster and fail more often. This is why Incoloy elements are
what you should look for in the electric models, as they will last
longer than the elements made of copper.
- In tankless heaters, a heat exchanger is small and if the water
passages are clogged by the sediments and lime-scale build up this will
reduce the flow and result in high temperatures.
A solution for water heater
- There are few solutions for hard water and sediments. One is to
install a water softener. This is what can help you to reduce the
deposits, but can affect other elements, such as the anode rod
as it will accelerate the anode consumption. If using the water
softener, you should inspect the anode rod more often and replace it
- Another solution is to buy a deliming solution from the
manufacturer and treat the affected heater as part of the regular
The recommendation is to
look for the manufacturer that incorporates a system that fights the
water heater sediment and lime build-up. The idea is actually very
simple. An innovative design of the dip tube
ensures that the incoming water makes the turbulent flow inside the
tank, which dissolves the calcium compounds. Different manufacturers
have different systems; Bradford White has the HydroJet Total
Performance System; AO Smith DynaClean and Rheem has the EverKleen
system. All these systems are able to reduce the sedimentation problems
with the great success.
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