Draining Tank Lots Sediment!

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by molo, Jun 8, 2007.

  1. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    Hello all,

    I am in an area where there are loads of minerals in the Water. Hot-water tanks are always getting filled with sediment. I have a situation where I need to drain a hot-water tank that I know is filled with lots of sediment. What is the best way to do this?

    Thanks in Advance for any help,
    Molo
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,252
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    drain

    1. Replace the drain valve with a ball valve and hose adapter.
    2. Replace the tank instead of wasting a lot of time flushing it.
  3. got_nailed

    got_nailed DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    277
    1 turn off power
    2 turn off water
    3 open a hot water at sink to relive pressure
    4 close hot water at sink
    5pull the drain valve if it is plastic then have fun with the destruction but don’t mess up the threads
    6 use a long screwdriver or something in the drain hole and use it to break up the deposits
    7 put your water hose on it
    8 turn the water on
    9 go get a new straight ball valve and hose fitting for it
    10 turn the water off drain the tank (turn on a sink then when empty turn off)
    11 turn the water back on till you don’t see any nasty stuff coming out of the hose.
    12 turn water off
    13 put on new ball valve and close
    14 water on and open sink to fill tank
    15 when full (water coming out of the sink) turn off the sink
    16 turn the power back on to the heater


    Do this once a month but after the first time you don’t need to remove the ball valve. If it is real bad then you can pull and replace the lower element. Use something to break up what you can whale your in there (a bigger hole).
  4. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    The list

    Thanks for the help!

    Do I do all that in the order you listed? I'm wondering about what to do if I take the plastic shut-off out, start clearing the sediment, and the water starts pouring out of the tank? Should I have the ball valve with hose connection ready to thread into the tank? I need to avoid a flood.

    Thaks in Advance,
    Molo
  5. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    Does anything at all come out of the drain valve now?

    If so, and even if only a trickle, you might first shut off your water supply and let the system pressure run down by pushing what it can out of the tank ... then have your ball valve with a hose barb in it and a drain hose nearby so you can next remove the plastic valve and install the ball valve (hand-tight for now) ... then open the ball valve and poke through it until a little more of whatever comes out ... then stick the hose on the barb (off and back on while poking, if necessary) and let the tank finish draining. At that point, you can remove the ball valve and clear a little more around/inside the hole.

    If nothing at all comes out now, you might first shut off your water supply and release the system pressure at a cold faucet somewhere (and leave it open) ... then have your ball valve with a hose barb in it and a drain hose ready and continue on with the above ... and of course, turn your water heater off before doing anything else.
  6. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    Thanks Lee,

    It still seems like it will be next to impossible to avoid a mess. Sound right? or is there a clean way of doing this so that I don't ruin the carpet?
  7. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    You might try using a large, low-sided catch pan such as might sit under a washing machine, but no, I cannot think of any guaranteed way to keep everything nearby completely dry. If nothing comes out now and you can get the valve changed and firmly attach a drain hose going somewhere, you *might* be able to use a little backpressure (either air or water) through the hose to disodge the slug and get things flowing so you can drain the tank before again removing the valve to do some poking.
  8. alternety

    alternety Like an engineer

    Messages:
    650
    Location:
    Washington
    I know this is pretty obvious but - after turning off the power let the tank cool. If you start fooling around at the drain with hot water n the tank you could get burned.
  9. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    rolling rocks in tank

    The results are in on draining this tank!

    I was able to get a 3/4" ball valve (with nipple) into the tank while there was still alot of water in it. I then used a small trash can to catch water as I prodded into the tank with a flexible rod. I did get alot of white calcium type material coming out. I then hooked up the hose and drained the entire tank. After I was done with that I took the hose off and went back to using the amll trash can to catch water. I repeatedly turned the cold supply on and let it flush the remaining LOOSE sediment out until the water was nice and clear coming out.
    Then I refilled the tank, and turned the gas back on.
    I still have the same problem as before!
    The tank is very loud (sounds like rocks rolling around)!
    I thought that if I got the sediment out, it would fix this problem.

    Question: Is the sound caused by sediment? Could there be more sediment in the tank or even hardened to the bottom that causes this noise (like rocks rolling around in the tank when it is heating. It is quite loud.

    It is gas fired, some assumed from the beginning that it was electric.

    TIA,
    Molo
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2007
  10. Rancher

    Rancher Guest

    One more question...

    Gas fired hot water heater?

    Rancher
  11. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,804
    Location:
    New England
    Some of that sediment may have hardened in place. This would somewhat insulate the heating elements, if electric. It won't be perfect, and will have cracks, etc. in the coating. Water will end up being superheated, flash into steam, and make that sound. You may not be able to clean out enough to solve your problem. If it is electric, you could replace the heating elements.
  12. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    Note: This is a Natural Gas fired tank

    The results are in on draining this tank!

    I was able to get a 3/4" ball valve (with nipple) into the tank while there was still alot of water in it. I then used a small trash can to catch water as I prodded into the tank with a flexible rod. I did get alot of white calcium type material coming out. I then hooked up the hose and drained the entire tank. After I was done with that I took the hose off and went back to using the amll trash can to catch water. I repeatedly turned the cold supply on and let it flush the remaining LOOSE sediment out until the water was nice and clear coming out.
    Then I refilled the tank, and turned the gas back on.
    I still have the same problem as before!
    The tank is very loud (sounds like rocks rolling around)!
    I thought that if I got the sediment out, it would fix this problem.

    Question: Is the sound caused by sediment? Could there be more sediment in the tank or even hardened to the bottom that causes this noise (like rocks rolling around in the tank when it is heating. It is quite loud.

    It is gas fired, some assumed from the beginning that it was electric.

    TIA,
    Molo
  13. leejosepho

    leejosepho DIY scratch-pad engineer

    A thin spot in the cylinder wall of an internal combustion engine can cause the same kind of thing (as evidenced by coolant overheating), and maybe your gas-fired internal heat exchanger has a similar "thin spot(s)" problem causing some "rolling bubbles" of steam.
  14. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    You will most likely never get rid of the noise so if it is that bad for you replace the tank with a new one like hj suggested.
  15. save time....get a new tank.....

    They do mkae a solution that would clean the bottom
    of that tank.....call around

    you pour it into the top of the heater and let it set for a few hours

    then you flush it out....and it strips the sediment off the bottom of the tank and it is as good as new...

    the only downside to it is ----it is very labor intensive
    and odds are you will end up cleaning the bottom of the tank so well that a leak will probably spring forth .....


    We have some old Tight Wad Germans -around here that would opt for that ....
  16. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    At this point, I will deal with the sound. I would be nervous about a leak forming from the cleaner and putting harmful substances into the domestic water system.

    I am wondering if there is a way to test a T&P valve without ruining it? I tested the one on this tank (opened it) and when I refilled the tank it was hissing, so I ended up replacing it.

    TIA,
    Molo
  17. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    21,804
    Location:
    New England
    Just like your tank, the fittings on the T&P valve can get coated with calcium and whatever else is depositing out in your tank. Then, when you open it, you scrape off some of that on the stem, but it sticks a little, not reseating. If there is a large accumulation, it's worse. You can try to remember to open it on a regular basis, and that will help, but you'll still end up replacing it occasionally. At least then, though, you'd know if it was too gummed up to operate and unsafe.

    Sounds like a water softener might be a good addition.
  18. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    Same tank...
    More problems

    I drained it, and cleaned with a rod the bottom of the tank the best I could. It still is loud, AND whenever the cold or hot is turned on there is air that sprays out of the faucets. The tank rumbles even when the cold is on. It seems like it might be an air problem, but I'm not sure what to do.

    TIA,
    Molo
  19. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Replace the tank as was suggested many posts ago.

    You are fighting a losing battle.
  20. molo

    molo New Member

    Messages:
    840
    Location:
    cold new york
    Can anyone explain what is causing the air spraying out of the hot and cold faucets for a few seconds before the water hits the faucet when they are turned on, also the rumbling occurs when the cold is on as well, so that seems to rule out the possibility of heat causing the rumbling sound, if the heat burners aren't on and the rumbling is still occuring, that's why I'm wondering if it's more of an air problem?

    TIA,
    Molo
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2007
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