Water Heater Stagnant / Flush?

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mr.t

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As I get closer to pressurizing the entire system for the first time, the next item to address is the water heater.

Quick story is that it was filled with water that sat for about a year (late 2019 to late 2020). About 16 months ago I emptied the tank fully and while the water that came out was generally clear, it had a stagnant/rotten smell (not really surprising). It has been completely empty since then.

My thought was to now fill it fully with fresh water again ( I have a shut off valve on the hot side to allow me to generally isolate the tank) and then drain it in an attempt to give the inside a little bit of a wash down. Is this a bad idea for any reason? Is there anything else I should do or be concerned with?

If it helps, it is a Bradford White, 50 Gal Natural Gas unit (Model #RG250S6N)

Any help is appreciated. Thanks!
 

Reach4

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Quick story is that it was filled with water that sat for about a year (late 2019 to late 2020). About 16 months ago I emptied the tank fully and while the water that came out was generally clear, it had a stagnant/rotten smell (not really surprising). It has been completely empty since then.
Well or chlorinated city water? I would clean and sanitize. Whether you have well or city would affect what I would do.

The thread on the drain valve is 3/4 NPT. To assist cleaning, you could temporarily replace that with a 3/4 inch nipple. I don't know if you could run an electric pressure washer nozzle thru that. However my main reason to pull the old anode was to replace it with a powered anode.

Do you have a floor drain to drain to? If not, you could drain to a tub and move the water with a utility pump.

At least turn the incoming water on for a while, and then let it drain out. I took my anode out, and sprayed water into that.

My thought was to now fill it fully with fresh water again ( I have a shut off valve on the hot side to allow me to generally isolate the tank) and then drain it in an attempt to give the inside a little bit of a wash down. Is this a bad idea for any reason? Is there anything else I should do or be concerned with?
I see no reason not to.
 

mr.t

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When it was filled, it was filled with chlorinated city water. I have a nearby sump pit that I can drain to. I think I'll move forward with the plan to fill it up and drain it out and see how that goes. My main concern would be if any bacteria or mold could have started to form inside the empty tank. :/
 

John Gayewski

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When it was filled, it was filled with chlorinated city water. I have a nearby sump pit that I can drain to. I think I'll move forward with the plan to fill it up and drain it out and see how that goes. My main concern would be if any bacteria or mold could have started to form inside the empty tank. :/
Rust is thr most likely thing to form on am emptied tank.

I would pour some bleach in it and refill let sit for about 15 then dump. Then fill and flush thoroughly.
 

jadnashua

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Once you've flushed it, you might want to let if fill and run the aquastat up on high for 24-hours or so...the high heat after the initial bleach and flush should kill anything in it...then, turn it down to where you like it. If you don't have a tempering valve on the WH, it's a good idea to install one.
 

Sarg

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Just to mention......... The factory drain valves are usually a compression type that are both slow and ineffective for flushing sediment. I replace mine with 3/4 ball valves made for flushing ( under $30. )

DRAIN.jpg
 

mr.t

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Thank you everyone for the feedback. Quick update. I put some water in the tank for the first time in a long time, and then drained some of it (I did get a small amount of sediment/rust particles). Filled it some more again and drained some more and it was clearer. I have it filled right now and will drain it again and see how the water looks.

The bleach/superheat idea is an interesting one. Bradford White even outlines the cleaning process on their site:
https://www.bradfordwhite.com/forth...ten-egg-smell-and-chlorinating-water-heaters/

For now, I am a little ways from being ready to fire up the heater and running hot water. But when I'm ready for that step I'll give this a try and report back.

Sarg,
My factory drain valve seemed to flow well, but I'll consider upgrading to a larger ball valve. Thanks for the tip!
 

Reach4

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Note that adding and mixing vinegar before adding the bleach makes the bleach more active. Don't pour bleach right into undiluted vinegar, because that could generate chlorine gas.

Looking at the link you posted, they are using more bleach than I expected. While you have bleach solution in there, it would be good to run that to all of the hot faucets. Once the chlorinated water reaches the faucet (identify by smell or test strip) then close the valve. Let that sit in the pipes as you continue washing sediment out.

For getting rid of sediment, I would not do full fills initially, but turn on the input water full blast for maybe 30 seconds. Then let that drain. Repeat.
 

Sarg

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mr.T ...... The biggest change I noted with the 3/4 ball drain was during my yearly maintenance on our 40 gal. electric. When it used to take about 45 minutes to drain off the 40 gallons it is now under 15.
( I use a wet vac to remove the tank sediment through the lower element hole )
 

mr.t

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Thank you everyone for the continued ideas. One key item that may or may not matter. I roughed in all new water lines and have NOT filled them yet. So Ideally (if possible) I'd like to complete a thorough cleaning/flush of the rank without running water to the new lines yet. So if I can put vinegar/bleach in the tank as is, heat it and then drain that would be preferred.

Thanks again!
 
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