Water heater - to drain or not?

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RobLyons
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Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by RobLyons » Sat Jan 11, 2020 8:42 am

This may be best to post on a DIY forum, but since I highly value opinions here, and this is a personal consumer issue, wanted to post here first.
I have a HTP SSU-45 water heater installed in 2013 (link to manual below). I have never drained sediment from the water heater, and when I asked my plumber, he said not to touch it because it has a lifetime warranty. This doesn't make sense to me because no matter warranty, I feel preventative maintenance is important for anything in life.

Manual talks about the drain and having a qualified professional perform this operation, and also states
"Preventive maintenance can help avoid any unnecessary breakdown of the water heater and keep it running at optimum efficiency."

and one exclusion to the warranty is:
20. Failure of the heater due to the accumulation of solid materials or lime deposits.

So what's the general consensus here?

Do I get a new plumber? Do I drain it myself? Or don't touch it?
Thanks all


Manual:

http://www.htproducts.com/literature/lp-83.pdf
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

RMO87
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by RMO87 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:09 am

There are opinions on each side right here on this board, as I posted a similar question to yours a couple years ago. I drained mine, on just a 6-month old heater, and it caused problems in two faucets in my home. Draining the heater stirs up sediment at the bottom of the heater. I lost most of the water pressure in my kitchen faucet, which caused me to take an entire weekend learning how to take the faucet apart in order to clean out the sediment that had settled in it. I was able to fix it, but a similar type thing happened to my shower head in the master bathroom. The pressure remains lowered there, as well. I've just left that one alone, as the pressure is still sufficient to take a shower.

iamblessed
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by iamblessed » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:30 am

RMO87 wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:09 am
There are opinions on each side right here on this board, as I posted a similar question to yours a couple years ago. I drained mine, on just a 6-month old heater, and it caused problems in two faucets in my home. Draining the heater stirs up sediment at the bottom of the heater. I lost most of the water pressure in my kitchen faucet, which caused me to take an entire weekend learning how to take the faucet apart in order to clean out the sediment that had settled in it. I was able to fix it, but a similar type thing happened to my shower head in the master bathroom. The pressure remains lowered there, as well. I've just left that one alone, as the pressure is still sufficient to take a shower.
Do it at night when the hot water will not be used. After I do mine I open up my bathtub for a minute it's from the 1960's. It has nothing on the end of the tap(no filter) owner of a 30 year old tank. I let five gallons out every six months.

runner3081
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by runner3081 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:34 am

We have very hard water and I drain our tank every year.

ncbill
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by ncbill » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:44 am

Father-in-law has kept his electric water heater going for decades by annually draining the tank, unscrewing the drain valve, and using a wet-dry vacuum to vacuum out the sediment at the bottom of the tank.

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Kenkat
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by Kenkat » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:56 am

I have a Rheem gas water heater installed in 1998. I drained it a couple of times in the early years but stopped when I had difficulty getting the drain valve fully closed the second time. I haven’t touched it since and it is still going, 21+ years old at this point.

galectin
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by galectin » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:04 am

Draining the water heater is a good idea.

There are a number of "How-To Videos" on Youtube that show how to do this.

Broken Man 1999
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:09 am

We put in our third water heater a couple of years ago. The original WH was builder grade, lasted about 13 years. The first replacement lasted about 15 years. Had a problem with electronic module. Seemed risky fixing a 15 year old WH by installing a not-so-cheap replacement part. We still would have had a 15 year old tank. So, we bought our second replacement WH. DDs family was living with us whilst their new home was being built, and insisted they pay half the costs. Naturally I objected a bit, but not enough to discourage her. :D

We also have hard water, and have never drained any of our water heaters. So there a couple more data points, FWIW.

Broken Man 1999
“If I cannot drink Bourbon and smoke cigars in Heaven than I shall not go. " -Mark Twain

Teague
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by Teague » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:46 am

Pro: Draining removes sediment that decreases water heater efficiency, sends particles downstream to clog faucets, and generally causes problems. So getting rid of the sediment with periodic draining is a good thing.

Con: Many, probably most, residential water heaters have a cheap kind of drain valve. Getting sediment stuck in these cheap valves, as can happen when periodically draining, can cause the valve to permanently leak, and that's not uncommon. So draining may cause a worse problem than it was intended to solve.

Best practice: Replace the cheap drain valve with a good one. A quality brass/bronze ball valve. Then periodically drain.
Semper Augustus

iamblessed
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by iamblessed » Sat Jan 11, 2020 12:07 pm

ncbill wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:44 am
Father-in-law has kept his electric water heater going for decades by annually draining the tank, unscrewing the drain valve, and using a wet-dry vacuum to vacuum out the sediment at the bottom of the tank.
I think this might be the best way. I replaced my valve a few years back. More sediment can get out that big hole and you can look in to see what shape it is in. Might only take 30 minutes of work.

Lafder
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by Lafder » Sat Jan 11, 2020 9:11 pm

We do not drain ours. At least one lasted 1984-2012 and we only replaced it because we were moving and the realtor said to replace it so the sellers were not worried it was so old. Our plumber has never recommended draining.

A water heater in the current house failed after 1991-2017. The failure was an irreparable leak. We never drained it in the 5 years we lived here.

Hmmmm.

jharkin
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by jharkin » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:24 pm

That’s a Superstore Ultra. It’s a stainless steel indirect tank, and as such it CANT rust and there is no burner to get buried in limescale.Your plumber doesn’t reccomend draining sediment because there won’t be much unless you have a lot of junk coming in from the water main.

I think the online recommendations to “drain the sediment” are referring to cheap tank type heaters that are made of plain carbon steel and fill up from rust.

I lived with a SS ultra for 10 years, and now have a similar stainless tank Veissman. Tried draining it once and nothing but clear water came out. Never bothered agin, never felt the need.


Enjoy the many years of trouble free operation ahead :sharebeer

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BostonBoy
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by BostonBoy » Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:42 pm

Our water heater was installed in 2003. Never drained. I wouldn't touch it.

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whodidntante
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by whodidntante » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:03 pm

I drain my 1998 vintage water heater twice a year. It's old enough to drink (wakka wakka).

I guess you don't have to, but it will work harder.

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RobLyons
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by RobLyons » Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:42 pm

jharkin wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:24 pm
That’s a Superstore Ultra. It’s a stainless steel indirect tank, and as such it CANT rust and there is no burner to get buried in limescale.Your plumber doesn’t reccomend draining sediment because there won’t be much unless you have a lot of junk coming in from the water main.

I think the online recommendations to “drain the sediment” are referring to cheap tank type heaters that are made of plain carbon steel and fill up from rust.

I lived with a SS ultra for 10 years, and now have a similar stainless tank Veissman. Tried draining it once and nothing but clear water came out. Never bothered agin, never felt the need.


Enjoy the many years of trouble free operation ahead :sharebeer

One of the best responses. Thanks!
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

shunkman
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by shunkman » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:14 am

Teague wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 11:46 am

Con: Many, probably most, residential water heaters have a cheap kind of drain valve. Getting sediment stuck in these cheap valves, as can happen when periodically draining, can cause the valve to permanently leak, and that's not uncommon. So draining may cause a worse problem than it was intended to solve.

Best practice: Replace the cheap drain valve with a good one. A quality brass/bronze ball valve. Then periodically drain.
Or install a cap on the drain valve. This solved my slow leaking valve problem. A new ball valve would be best but it might require a plumber to install. And there is no guarantee that a new ball valve won't start leaking as well.

https://www.amazon.com/Gilmour-Brass-Ho ... DP2Y6YA0WW

coffeehubcap
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by coffeehubcap » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:22 am

What about the anode rod? Do you periodically check that out?

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bertilak
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by bertilak » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:26 pm

jharkin wrote:
Sat Jan 11, 2020 10:24 pm
I lived with a SS ultra for 10 years, and now have a similar stainless tank Veissman. Tried draining it once and nothing but clear water came out. Never bothered agin, never felt the need.
I have a TANKLESS water heater and the recommendation is to flush it every X year(s) to descale the elements. I forget what X is. After a number of years (surely > X) I had a plumber flush the heater with some special flushing fluid. It came out pristine clear. The plumber said this was because I had a water softener and it probably never needed to be flushed as long as I kept the softener in good shape.

So OP: if you have a SS tank and soft water I think you are OK.
May neither drought nor rain nor blizzard disturb the joy juice in your gizzard. -- Squire Omar Barker (aka S.O.B.), the Cowboy Poet

montanagirl
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by montanagirl » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:31 pm

We did ours a few years ago. It's a good Rheem, not that old, but I noticed my bath water didn't really get hot unless I had "primed" it earlier in the day by doing laundry or dishes. We have very hard well water. DH let the water out and I swapped buckets and dumped them. He yelled at me a lot. :(

After that DH put in a water softener on the line to the water heater, in hopes that would keep the sediment down. Maybe that's misguided, I don't know. At any rate the bath water needs to be primed again but I'm not sure I want to bring it up.

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bertilak
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by bertilak » Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:46 pm

montanagirl wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 12:31 pm
We did ours a few years ago. It's a good Rheem, not that old, but I noticed my bath water didn't really get hot unless I had "primed" it earlier in the day by doing laundry or dishes. We have very hard well water. DH let the water out and I swapped buckets and dumped them. He yelled at me a lot. :(

After that DH put in a water softener on the line to the water heater, in hopes that would keep the sediment down. Maybe that's misguided, I don't know. At any rate the bath water needs to be primed again but I'm not sure I want to bring it up.
Test the output from you softener to be sure it is doing the job. Use a good test kit, not one of those where you need to make precise distinctions from a bunch of similarly colored examples. Here is a good one: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00N3YPOUG/. It is inexpensive, simple to use and precise. Culligan uses it.
May neither drought nor rain nor blizzard disturb the joy juice in your gizzard. -- Squire Omar Barker (aka S.O.B.), the Cowboy Poet

runwyrlph
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by runwyrlph » Mon Jan 13, 2020 3:24 pm

My Vote: To Drain

I learned a lot from this site: https://www.waterheaterrescue.com/Longe ... asics.html

I drain mine about every year, check my anode about every 2 years and replace with magnesium if needed. I also curved my dip tube to facilitate sediment removal. I have hard water with softener, water heater is 20+ years old. 8-)

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RobLyons
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by RobLyons » Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:03 pm

coffeehubcap wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:22 am
What about the anode rod? Do you periodically check that out?

No, but should I ? Plumber didn't mention that either..
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

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wander
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by wander » Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:35 pm

I drained mine every year. It's part of to-do list. :D

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Quercus Palustris
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by Quercus Palustris » Mon Jan 13, 2020 8:38 pm

RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:03 pm
coffeehubcap wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:22 am
What about the anode rod? Do you periodically check that out?
No, but should I ? Plumber didn't mention that either..
Not a bad idea if you can, more often depending on your water softness. In some water heaters (like my #*&$^ Bradford White) it's part of the hot water outlet pipe, and can't be removed or examined w/out un-soldering pipes :annoyed

If that's not your brand, and the rod's nut isn't blocked by pipes or other obstructions, it takes a large socket (use 6pt not 12 for less slipping) and breaker bar (or big wrench), +/- some elbow grease. I replaced my dad's WH's anode rod at about 10yo, it looked gross but still had some life in it.

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F150HD
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by F150HD » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:17 pm

RobLyons wrote:
Mon Jan 13, 2020 6:03 pm
coffeehubcap wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:22 am
What about the anode rod? Do you periodically check that out?

No, but should I ? Plumber didn't mention that either..
yes periodically. Pic of mine below, I just replaced it this past weekend (waterheater was from prior owner). The rod looks awful but was doing exactly what it was designed to do.
Replace w/ a magnesium rod if at all possible. Aluminum rods apparently tend to create more sediment. Self cleaning tanks stir the sediment so it (supposedly) passes through your water and faucets, though over time it still collects in the tank and you should drain some water at least 1x per year to remove it. Good tips above on putting in a higher quality drain valve.

Image

criticalmass
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by criticalmass » Mon Jan 13, 2020 9:39 pm

See the previous dozen threads on this issue.

If you use water from the hot side for cooking or consumption and/or you don't want the tank to fail in the future, drain water periodically.

Personally, I turn off the water heater well in advance and later drain after using residual hot water for showers/cleaning etc. I drain until sediment stops coming out and the water turns clear. This will extend tank life and water quality.

If the valve drips after closing, open it again full force to get any stuck junk out, then it won't drip.

Next, while I still have a hose connected, I turn off the inlet and drain the tank an inch or two. I can now unscrew the anode rod and inspect. Clean any scale (anodes don't work well when scaled) or replace if needed.

Keeping the sediment drained and anode rod operating will prevent the tank from leaking in the future. Burners still need occasional inspection/ cleaning and elements needed occasional descaling / replacement when appropriate. Remember to check a vent too.

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RobLyons
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Re: Water heater - to drain or not?

Post by RobLyons » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:30 am

Got a call back from the manufacturer today and he indicated I should NOT do anything to the unit. Hands off !
This model has no anode so no worries there.
And his only recommendation was to make sure I have my receipt in case of any issues down the line and to have a license plumber check it out periodically and they may shock the coils, or take sediment out of tubes ONLY if necessary (run cold water through coils, then heat up fast)

Rep also discussed how build up is seen more in homes running off well water.

Morale of the story, contact the manufacturer with specific product related questions :sharebeer
"Great parenting sets the foundation for a better world"

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