is vinegar flush legit or recipe for damage?

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Old 02-17-20, 08:03 AM
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is vinegar flush legit or recipe for damage?

bought house with ecosmart 27 (elec tankless). Flushed with vinegar for 1.5 hrs. Afterward my bucket was coated with nasty greasy grey film that hardened into coating (see pic) that makes your fingers look like you've been working on motors in a machine shop. The discharge end of the new hose I bought that was sitting in the vinegar bucket now looks like it's been rained on for 10 years (see pic compared to the new end). So does the inside of the copper on my heat exchanger now look like this? Can it be remedied? Or did vinegar ruin my heater? Heater works fine, but not interested in water that's been pumped through this nastiness. Any expert out there that actually knows vinegar is ok or if it's just DIY bs that can actually cause damage?
 
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02-17-20, 10:40 AM
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A post on a DIY forum and the brand new poster does not want any opinions from "diyers" only experts.

Here's my expert opinion on vinegar, You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. My guess is not a lot of flies have been caught.

My diy opinion on your issue is to contact the company that made the water heater so you can be confident in their expert opinion.
 
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Old 02-17-20, 08:29 AM
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Vinegar is a very mild acid so it's just stripping away at all the hard water crud that has built up inside.

Every few years we have our GEO thermal unit cleaned and I'm sure it stronger than vinegar!
 
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Old 02-17-20, 08:46 AM
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hose pic. for some reason initial post wouldn't take files.
 
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Old 02-17-20, 08:50 AM
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bucket pic. stuff is gross. could this be from the pump, like if these submersible pumps aren't made to sit in vinegar?
 
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Old 02-17-20, 09:41 AM
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wrong Marq. see the pic where vinegar turned the end of a shiny new hose into rust garbage.

again, any actual expert out there that knows instead of just diy'ers giving opinions?
 
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Old 02-17-20, 10:40 AM
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A post on a DIY forum and the brand new poster does not want any opinions from "diyers" only experts.

Here's my expert opinion on vinegar, You catch more flies with honey than vinegar. My guess is not a lot of flies have been caught.

My diy opinion on your issue is to contact the company that made the water heater so you can be confident in their expert opinion.
 
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Old 02-17-20, 11:09 AM
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Clean out the bucket as best as you can. Repeat the flush with new vinegar.

Looks to me that the vinegar did what you wanted it to do but did not complete the job. After a short while the vinegar loses its potency as it dissolves the scale from inside the water heater coil.

All of the cleaning fluids the pro's use (sulfuric acid, etc.) are more potent than vinegar (acetic acid) and can work faster and can carry out more crud before their potency is lost (used up). Sulfuric acid will discolor the hose fitting more quickly but both vinegar and sulfuric acid will eat away a copper water heater coil extremely slowly. Even plain water will result in tarnishing of the hose fitting in the same manner although it takes months out in the garden for that to occur.

It is possible that some of the crud may stand up to vinegar and then you can chose to leave it that way or to bring the heater coil to a professional for a third treatment, with sulfuric acid.

Unknown is to what extent the vinegar attacks the innards of the pump you are using. Persons without experience should not use sulfuric or nitric acid at home as these acids attack flesh very rapidly. They will also attack the innards of the pump more rapidly than vinegar might.,
 
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Old 02-17-20, 05:54 PM
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I really don't see what the problem is. Tankless water heaters are high maintenance and need to be service/cleaned annually. If you are not happy with a DIY remedy using vinegar (5% Acidic) than call a plumber who specializes in the maintenance of these units and get a real cleaning with a more concentrated acid. As I see it, the alternative is to replace it with a tank type water heater.
 
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Old 02-17-20, 10:48 PM
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A post on a DIY forum and the brand new poster does not want any opinions from "diyers" only experts.
Hmmm, and to think I had always assumed the intent of a forum based format was to draw in multiple opinions, comments, and recommendations!
 
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Old 02-18-20, 04:19 AM
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Your odds of getting a pro to give you a definitive answer are slim.
Simply put you are there and the pro is elsewhere so they are unable to feel, touch and smell your crud.
I am not a pro but can tell you what you have is very weird.

I would not sweat it about you hose connector.
A hose connector is just copper/brass colored and not an actual rust proof material so for coarse the vinegar corroded it. You tank will use much better materials.

I doubt it is from the pump at least from vinegar corroding the pump.
You could run the pump with vinegar right back into a clean pail and see if the same type of crud collects.
If yes then it is something from the pump as there is nothing else in the system.
Problem is that it may have been in the pump and is now flushed out completely.

My best non pro guess is that it is from the pump and has nothing to do with the tank.
It looks like the stuff is not soluble in vinegar so it is not from corrosion of the pump but was in the pump impeller.

In any case I would pull the heaters and check them as this stuff may have contaminated your tank.
The following should be helpful.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g_OQAp2_B3c












 
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Old 02-18-20, 12:57 PM
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Vinegar is a weak acid- it turned some/ most of the hard water crust that had accumulated in the water heater into squishy crud that you found in the bucket.

Quick guess is that having a weak acid in contact with 2 different metals #1 copper-hose, and #2 water-heater-steel, acted like a battery, which caused the copper hose fitting to rust (oxidize) while repairing (reducing) the steel water heater.

Flush with vinegar again, it will be fine.
 
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Old 02-24-20, 03:18 AM
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Thanks manden

You saw what I was hoping would be seen:

1. Stuff apparently not soluble in vinegar.
2. Stuff is not a normal residue from scale.

So something ďweirdĒ happened here and flushing again with vinegar isnít the answer. But Iím still unsure what to do. What would this stuff be soluble in other than industrial soaps? I donít want to further pollute my system with non-potable chemicals. Maybe just water with a sanitizer?

I had already removed and descaled my elements like in that video you sent. But while doing this, I felt scale inside the exchanger also so I went ahead and added service valves to my system and flushed it, only to cause this bigger problem.

My pointers for others:
1. If youíre comfortable removing your elements, just do that instead of adding service valves to flush and potentially add contaminates.
2. Preclean a new pump by running cycles of hot water through it (perhaps with a sanitizer added) before hooking up to your water heater!

 
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Old 02-24-20, 05:12 AM
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If the crud came out of the (tankless) water heater then the vinegar did something useful. The scale inside the heater may have consisted of a variety of materials some of which dissolved in the vinegar and some of the rest that got "unglued" and came out with the dissolved materials. If the crud came from the pump or the hose then nothing has been proven about the usefulness of vinegar.

Acids that the pros use to descale tankless heaters pollute more than vinegar. A reasonably long final flushing with plain water and with heating in effect, for rinsing purposes, will clean up the tankless heater for normal use.

Nitpicking: Given copper and steel and water, the steel will do the "oxidizing" and the copper will do the reducing due to galvanic action (battery-like behavior). Vinegar being a better conductor of electricity than pure water, the process will occur faster with vinegar compared with plain water. More likely the "oxidation" of the hose fitting occurred without regard to the presence of steel nearby. Use a magnet to see if there is steel content in the hose end fitting. Also the introduction of vinegar may result in newly formed compounds, notably acetates, that do not dissolve in water and therefore result in solid or semisolid crud that does not look like the scale if you could extract any of that using a length of coat hanger wire. Sulfuric acid might produce crud containing newly formed sulfates; muriatic (hydrochloric) acid might produce crud containing newly formed chlorides. "Oxidation" -- It is not oxidation if no newly formed oxides result..
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 02-24-20 at 05:39 AM.
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Old 02-24-20, 06:01 AM
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Try the following to see it the crud will dissolve in it.
Alcohol
Mineral spirits/turpentine.
Water and dishsoap.
 
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Old 02-24-20, 10:02 AM
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I'm not sure I'd want to introduce mineral spirits, turpentine or any kind of soap to a potable water system.

Might be time to consult the owner's manual that came with the tankless heater.
 
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Old 02-24-20, 10:29 AM
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No I would not do that either.
But if he can find out what dissolves it then that may help discover where it came from.
 
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