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AGE of WATER HEATERS
AIRBOUND HEAT SYSTEM REPAIR by WATER FEED VALVE
ALTERNATIVE HOT WATER SOURCES
ANODES & DIP TUBES on WATER HEATERS
ANTIFREEZE for BOILERS
ANTI SCALD VALVES
APPLIANCE DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
AQUASTAT CONTROL Functions
BACKDRAFTING HEATING EQUIPMENT
BACKFLOW PREVENTER, HEATER WATER FEEDER
CARBON MONOXIDE - CO
CHECK VALVES, WATER SUPPLY
CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS in WATER
CHIMNEY INSPECTION DIAGNOSIS REPAIR
CLOGGED SUPPLY PIPING
DEBRIS in WATER SUPPLY, Water Heater
DRAIN a WATER HEATER TANK
ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS
FLOODED HEATING EQUIPMENT REPAIR
FLOODED WATER HEATER REPAIR
GALVANIC SCALE & METAL CORROSION
GAS BURNER Flame & Noise Defects
GAS FIRED WATER HEATERS
GAS PIPING, VALVES, CONTROLS
HOT WATER SUPPLY
INDIRECT FIRED WATER HEATERS
MANUALS & PARTS GUIDES - HVAC
MIXING / ANTI-SCALD VALVES
NO HEAT - NO HOT WATER: HEATER DIAGNOSIS
NOISE / SOUND DIAGNOSIS & CURE
NOISE CONTROL for HEATING SYSTEMS
NOISE, PLUMBING CHECKLIST
NOISE, WATER HEATER
ODORS GASES SMELLS, DIAGNOSIS & CURE
ODORS IN WATER
PIPING IN buildings, Clogs Leaks Types
PLASTIC Plexvent / Ultravent RECALL
PLUMBING FIXTURES, KITCHEN, BATH
RELIEF VALVE LEAKS
RELIEF VALVES - Water Heaters
SCALE REMOVAL, WATER HEATERS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SOLAR HOT WATER HEATERS
SOOT on OIL FIRED HEATING EQUIPMENT
SPILL SWITCHES - Flue Gas Detection
TANKLESS WATER HEATERS
Temperature Pressure Relief Valves - Water Heaters
THERMOSTATS, WATER HEATER
TIMERS for ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PIPES, Clogs Leaks Types
WATER PRESSURE & FLOW MEASUREMENT
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER QUANTITY IMPROVEMENT
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to stop scale and lime formation in water heaters: here we explain how to Prevent Future Scale Deposits in Water Heater Tanks or on Electric Water Heater Electrodes - Scale formation in water heaters and methods of prevention. The articles at this website will answer most questions about diagnosing and curing noisy domestic water heaters and about the procedure to remove mineral deposits, lime, water scale, silicates, sulfates, aluminates, or silt and sand from a water heater tank.
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Step 3: How to Prevent Future Scale Deposits in Water Heater Tanks or on Electric Water Heater Electrodes
At WATER HEATER SCALE - De-Liming Procedure we discussed how to remove existing scale and line from a water heater. Here we continue with water heater de-liming Step 3: advice on how to prevent scale and lime formation in or on water heating equipment.
Photo at left: Limescale deposits, SEM scanning electron microscopy micro-graph with a field of view of just 64 x 90 microns. Source: "Limescale" - Wikipedia, retrieved 11/13/2013 [Click to enlarge any photo or image]
Lime and scale in a hot water tank, caused by hard water as well as silicates, sulfates, and similar materials form water scale that coats the bottom of a hot water tank or the surface of the electrodes in an electric water heater, interfering with proper water heater operation, causing water heater noises, reduction in hot water quantity, increased water heater operating costs, and a shorter water heater life.
Silt and soil debris can also collect in a water heater tank where it can cause similar problems even if the water supply is not hard.
Silt and debris can be easily removed from a hot water tank by periodic flushing. In fact if your water heater is quite noisy, it will probably be easier to remove un-wanted mineral deposits from the water tank than it will be later if you wait until the heater is no longer making much noise (because the mineral layer has solidified). Install a sediment filter on the incoming water supply to avoid this problem in the first place.
But lime or water scale are more difficult to remove from (and easier to prevent in) a water heater: manually scraping the tank bottom through the drain opening or use of a de-limer chemical will be needed. Below we describe these procedures. Readers should also see our discussion of mineral clogging of water piping, water heaters, and tankless coils, organized at HOT WATER IMPROVEMENTS. Other gas fired water heater noises are discussed at GAS FLAME & NOISE DEFECTS.
Lowering Hot Water Heater Temperature Will Significantly Reduce the Rate of Lime & Scale Formation in a Water Heater Tank
The rate of deposition of scale inside of a water heater tank depends on
Water heated to higher temperatures deposits lime much faster than at lower temperatures. The Purdue University bulletin cited above charts the relationship between water temperature, total gallons of hot water used per day, and the annual quantity of lime deposition in a plumbing system. Our table below shows data for typical residential use of a hot water heater. At larger volumes of daily use the same relationship holds but the total quantity of lime deposited is much greater.
Thanks to researcher Robyn Goldstein for the full citation of Scale formation in water heaters and methods of prevention", Purdue Bulletin No. 74.
Surprisingly, while scale formation in water heaters was found to be rapid at higher temperatures, the water heater thermal efficiency was not as significantly effected as the researchers anticipated. It was also interesting that scale formation in the heater was not uniform - because temperatures across a water heater and its parts are themselves not uniform.
What is important about this data is the dramatic reduction in scale and lime formation in water heaters when the temperature was reduced from 175 degF. down to 140 degF. Considering that hot water is dangerously scalding even at 140 degF, only where scale formation is not a problem (low mineral content in the water source) and where a cold water mixing valve has been installed for safety, would it be reasonable to operate a residential water heater at high temperatures.
Back in 1940 Krappe reported that unlike high temperature residential heating boilers (heating water to 180-200 degF) where lime and scale formed rapidly in a tankless coil (TANKLESS COILS) , in side-arm type water heaters ( Range Boiler Water Heaters
The role of high temperature in water heater lime and scale formation also explains the rapid clogging of tankless coilsused for domestic hot water production. Residential heating boilers regularly operate at temperatures between 180 degF. and 200 degF., causing rapid scale formation where hard water is passing through the tankless coil. (See Clogged Tankless Coil & Hot Water Flow.)
Types of Water Heaters & Scale Formation
Krappe listed the following types of water heating devices in order of their tendency to "give service difficulty from scale formation"
How Mineral Deposits and Heating May Weaken a Water Heater Tank Bottom, Contributing to BLEVE Explosion
Water heater tank explosions are rare thanks to the widespread requirement for and use of pressure and temperature relief safety valves. The photo (left) shows a hole in the roof made when a water heater exploded, becoming a rocket that passed up through the building.
But if the safety valve has been damaged, modified, or even omitted (as we saw on our neighbor's water heater), that condition, combined with overheating can cause a water tank to explode, creating a BLEVE - boiling liquid vapor explosion that releases tremendous force and causing extreme damage to a building.
Because repeated heating of the water tank bottom may combine with other conditions (such as corrosion or excessive heating due to mineral deposits on the tank bottom) to produce a weak water heater tank bottom, that is the part more likely to fail in an overheat and overpressure condition.
A failure at the water tank bottom may explain why a BLEVE can produce a water tank explosion that behaves like a rocket, sending the water tank skyrocketing up through a building.
Cures for Hard Water that Clogs Hot Water Tanks, Tankless Coils, and Plumbing Pipes
See WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS for suggestions about dealing with hard water in buildings.
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