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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Damaged hot water tank

    Several months ago we returned from vacation to find that our well had lost its prime. When the prime was reestablished, we had excessively rusty water to the point that it appeared like sludge. We had the pump and tank replaced,the water softener cleaned and I drained the water tank from the bottom several times. In spite of that, our hot water continues to be rusty, to various degrees. One day not so bad, and then nearly brown the next. The cold water is fine and the hot water tank is about 3 years old.

    A couple of questions.
    Is it possible that the water has destroyed something in the tank to the point it needs to be replaced?

    Other than draining the tank from the bottom, are there any other ideas on how to clean the tank?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Default Re: Damaged hot water tank

    Don't drain the tank. Connect a hose to the bottom of the tank and let it run without turning the water off. Let it run until the water coming out of the hose clears up. There is a dip tube in the tank that directs the water to the bottom of the tank. You may have to repeat this a couple of times. That should help to clear your water up.


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Damaged hot water tank

    Johns right try that I also have had huge success with draining the tank completely off then filling it with 2 gallons vinegar 5% acidity and let it sit for about an hour then flush it how john suggested.
    Ben Franklin Plumbing Salt Lake City
    372 D St
    Salt Lake City, UT 84103
    (801) 416-3522

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Milwaukee, WI

    Smile Re: Damaged hot water tank

    I am a certified tech for AO Smith water heaters and here is a step by step of what the guys before mentioned (This will work for all tank type water heaters)
    -Take a hose hook it up to the drain valve at the bottom run your hose to your nearest floor drain,
    -turn the water heater gas to pilot (you dont want it to fire up during this process,
    -with the cold water valve that feeds the water heater ON open the drain valve of the water heater all the way. (NOTE: MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EITHER A BRICK OR SOMEONE HOLDING ON TO THE HOSE AS YOU DONT WANT TO SPRAY HOT WATER EVERYWHERE AS YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE A LOT OF PRESSURE ON THIS HOSE)
    -Let it run for about 5-10 min. what this does is it mixes up all the sediment in your water heater throughout the tank including whats on the bottom(NOTE: MAKE SURE NO FAUCETS ARE OPEN DURING THIS PROCESS)
    -After about 5-10 min turn the cold water valve that feeds the water heater OFF.
    -Now open a couple faucets upstairs (hot sides only)(this relieves the vacuum) and proceed to now let the whole water heater drain.
    - After it is drained close the drain valve
    -Open the cold water valve feeding the water heater and let the water heater fill up until the water comes out of the faucets upstairs (water may be discolored for 5-10 minutes).
    -TIP open all hot water sides of fixtures to speed this process up.
    -After water clears turn gas valve from pilot to on and you should be good to go.

    -Plumber Steve
    Last edited by plumber1118; 08-07-2012 at 10:46 PM.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Damaged hot water tank

    John, Jim and steve,

    I've seen cases when no water or a trickle would come out the drain, due to large sediments in the drain. A few times I had to remove the drain valves and free some of those rocks with a screwdriver, to let the water out (the WHs were in garages and the water just drained out to the driveway).

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Damaged hot water tank

    I appreciate all the feedback and I tried a few that still did not clear the water completly. After much searching, I found a process that worked exceedingly well to the point that I was amazed at the rust and mineral color of the water when first draining the tank. Rather than try to explain, attached is the link to the site I found.


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