Advice on cleaning hot water tank.

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Kheren

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Pinetop, Az.
Hi. I’m getting really bad chunks of calcium in my faucets and have learned I should clean the hot water tank once a year. It’s been 2 years. Oops. Anyway after many hours of google and forums we decided to maybe add vinegar to it, let it soak via the winterizing kit. It’s an Atwood, no anode rod. There are so many tips out there on this working. I go to rv store for the kit, she says DO NOT under any circumstances add vinegar or other chemicals to the hot water tank, simply flush it. Then an an anode rod to help attract the gunk in the future. All this advice goes against every single opinion I see online and now I do know what to do. I came home with a rod that I’m not sure if I should use. Help?
 

ChasA

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I just flushed my Atwood water heater. I just remove the drain plug and use a flusher device to wash out all the bits of sediment and calcium. When bits stop coming out I put the plug back in. Done.
 

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Kheren

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Pinetop, Az.
I just flushed my Atwood water heater. I just remove the drain plug and use a flusher device to wash out all the bits of sediment and calcium. When bits stop coming out I put the plug back in. Done.
Thank you. I tried to buy one of those but they’re waiting on a shipment. I hoped in the meantime I could just rinse with a hose.
 

HappyWanderer

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When all else fails, you could read the owner's manual for your water heater. Atwood recommends flushing with water to remove the aluminum oxide that's formed by minerals in the water being heated.

They also recommend cleaning with white vinegar to remove sulfur odor in the tank. They do not recommend installing an anode.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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You might get wet, but you can just put a hose nozzle up against the open drain and squirt water inside, then stop and let it drain back out. Repeat a few times to flush away the mineral salts that accumulated in the bottom. Not rocket science!

Don't think you failed if you don't get lots of white stuff out - that merely means the water where you have camped doesn't have a lot of minerals in it (it was soft water).

Note that the water heater isn't the only source of mineral clogs in the faucets. It comes from the cold water too. The salts in the water heater mostly stay there - that's why it's a good idea to flush it out.
 

lungesport

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"Then an an anode rod to help attract the gunk in the future."

This statement is a clear misunderstanding of the function of an anode rod. An anode rod is a sacrificial rod that degenerates over time. You may still need an anode rod and will know if you do when you pull it out to do the flushing service it appears that you require.
 

Kirk

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An anode rod is a sacrificial rod that degenerates over time. You may still need an anode rod and will know if you do when you pull it out to do the flushing service it appears that you require.
That is true if you have a Suburban water heater but if yours is Atwood it has an aluminum tank and no anode is required and to use one would void the warranty.

To clean the tank I use that same tool, but also every other year or so I do a full flush using white vinegar to remove the calcium buildup. You can find instructions in how to do that from this link.
 

Kheren

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Pinetop, Az.
Thanks again for all the advice. I can’t believe it was still working with all the crap that came out. I did not use vinegar but will flush it more often. Decided against the anode rod too even though it says it’s for Atwood water heaters (hence my confusion). I appreciate all the help.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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I can’t believe it was still working with all the crap that came out.
All that crap has relatively little effect. It reduces tank capacity a bit and maybe slows the gas burner heat transfer some (the burner is at the bottom of the tank). And if it built up enough to submerge the heater element, that too would be a problem, but that's a LOT of residue, probably several years worth. So flushing the tank is good maintenance practice, but usually not critical.
 

Kheren

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Pinetop, Az.
E7695E66-43F2-4FF1-B777-5A29387B7FDF.jpeg
That is just when I first pulled the plug, maybe 1/3 of what came out after using the wand. Wow.
 

Great Horned Owl

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........+
Note that the water heater isn't the only source of mineral clogs in the faucets. It comes from the cold water too. The salts in the water heater mostly stay there - that's why it's a good idea to flush it out.
Just to clarify, Gary isn't referring to table salt. The term "salt" refers to any of the thousands of compounds that are created by combining any acid with any base.

Joel
 
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