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        Gas water heater vs. Calcium in water supply Sign In/Join 
        Picture of Rich73Kelly
        posted
        We have a 45 gallon Gas water heater. Due to so much calcium in our (City) water supply, I have been emptying and attempting to flush the calcium build up out yearly. Being Natural Gas supplied, most know, the heat comes from the bottom of the tank. I can tell when it needs flushing again cause the water don't stay as hot. My question here is this; is there something I can introduce to the water supply (if even for a few days or hours) to help break up and eliminate some of this build up? There is a whole house filter I could use for this purpose.


        Today is the first day of the rest of your life
         
        Posts: 54 | Location: Neenah, WI USA | Registered: Apr 09, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        I see three ways to treat this:

        1. Flush it on a regular basis - which is what you are doing now. Other than having to do this chore every year, no complications and little expense.

        2. Install a water softener at the main supply point in your house. This will prevent the gradual build-up of most of the calcium so you'll probably never have to drain it out again. Also gives you the bonus of having soft water everywhere - less soap needed for laundry, dishes or showers and better for your skin. Down side is the cost of the installation, cost of upkeep and finding room for the water softener tank.

        3. Close off the water heater and add 'lime away' type chemicals to dissolve the calcium. Overall a very bad idea. While you can really clean the tank out well you'd be introducing some dangerous chemicals to your system that would take a while to completely go away. The only situation I would recommend doing this would be if the water heater is used for a closed loop heating system and not for drinking.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10286 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        here's a tip if you go the water softener route (recommended...) keep the outside faucets and the kitchen sink cold water on regular rock-hard city water. all that salt in the garden is not a good thing, and it's also a huge load on a softener.

        and nine out of 10 doctors agree, the extra work in isolating that line is good exercise, even better than avoiding the extra hidden salt in your cooking.

        the tenth doctor has a boat payment due...


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5702 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Rich73Kelly
        posted Hide Post
        Jaybee, this flushing on a regular basis is pretty much a PITA cause the discharge is a faucet with a hose connect outlet. If a big chunk comes to surface. it plugs the small hole in the outlet. Last time I drained and flushed. I had to remove the stem to get more sediment to come out. I was going to replace the seat only to find it must have been pressed on because there was no slot for a screwdriver. So, I bought a garden hose ball valve to stop the drip that developed from build up on the seat. That and I never know how much is still in there because there is no way to look in there.
        After reading here, I think getting a water softener (which I never thought of) would be the ultimate thing to do! I agree with swschard on isolating the softener fed lines. My question here is this ... Would it make sense or be feasible to ONLY soften the water heater supply instead of trying to isolate the others, thereby softening only the shower and dishwater? We do most of our laundry in cold water anyway (except for whites).


        Today is the first day of the rest of your life
         
        Posts: 54 | Location: Neenah, WI USA | Registered: Apr 09, 2005Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        In theory, you could hook up the water softener to the main supply feed to the water heater only. This will serve the purpose of having only soft water go through your water heater and will stop the calcium build-up problem.

        But it doesn't make sense to do this. Other than differences in location, it will cost the same to have all the water run through the softener as compared to just the hot. Also, there are benefits to bathing and washing in softer water that you would loose if all the cold was still untreated. Other than the effort needed to route exterior faucets to a point of origin that is before the softener, there is no reason not to hook the softener up to the entire system.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10286 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        I just replaced a leaking softener that was installed in a bad, bad place, blocking the shutoff valve and the drain cleanout. put it where it should have been, on a nice blank wall section between the sump and the water heater. which means I had to replumb 40+ feet of water supply.

        two hours work, and now the furnace guy won't be leaning against the softener to boot when he's dialling in the heat each year.

        this is not brain surgery, and anybody capable of checking for voids in the solder joints while still warm and dry so they can be fluxed and fixed can do this. providing local code allows.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5702 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        Water softeners also generally have a by-pass valve allowing you to by-pass it when doing a lot of watering outside. Not as convenient as by-passing it completely but it will get the job done at no additional cost. One advantage to not by-passing your outdoor faucets is you can use soft water to wash your cars. Less spotting that way.

        My first house in central PA had water just this side of granite in hardness. I helped my neighbor change out his heating element after about 1.5 years in the house. It came out of the tank about twice as large as it went in due to the calcium build up. I installed a water softener and definitely noticed the difference in showering and laundry. I haven't had one since, our water here in Cary is actually pretty soft to begin with.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sparky617,


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 710 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        the bypass valve should really be used for service only, or in case the softener fails. I bet it's one valve, ten or so feet of pipe, and a tee and a sleeve to separate out the outside water spigots from the softened water. 20 minutes of handwaving and a little flux and solder when you're putting the softener in. we really don't need to waste a lot of server space debating that.


        sig: if this is a new economy, how come they still want my old-fashioned money?
         
        Posts: 5702 | Location: North Burbs, MN | Registered: Mar 14, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        When I had one the installer advised me about the by-pass. How much work is involved really depends on the layout of the plumbing.

        Server space is cheap.


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 710 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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