How to Descale a Water Heater

descale a home water heater
What You'll Need
White vinegar
Scrubbing brush
Rubber gloves

To ensure that a water heater continues to work at an optimum level, it is necessary to descale the appliance. This will mean removing the deposits that can build up from the use of hard water. The task can prove to be relatively easy if you follow the steps to complete the process properly.

Step 1 – Drain

Start by disconnecting the power to the water heater so that you can be safe while you are working to descale it. This will allow you to drain the existing water in the water heater to make it easier to clean. This process will involve turning off the water supply and opening all the faucets in the house to release the water.

Step 2 – Remove Element

Once all of the water has drained, you will be in a position to remove the element within it. This will give you greater access during the period in which you descale the appliance. You will find that this can be undertaken with the use of a wrench. In some cases, there will be no element to remove as the source of heat will be built-in.

Step 3 – Cleaning Solution

Although there are a number of commercial cleaning products on the market that are made for descaling, you should give them careful consideration before use. They often contain a large number of harmful chemicals that will require thorough rinsing to clean it away.

If you want to avoid the use of chemicals, a mixture of white vinegar and water will suffice to descale the water heater. Use white vinegar over any other as the smell is not as strong and is less likely to linger.

Create a solution of 1 part vinegar to 1 part water to a quantity that fills the heater to capacity. Turn the water heater back on and leave the solution to work for at least two hours, but longer if possible.

Step 4 – Scrub

Once you have given the solution time to work, check how effective it has been. In most cases, you will find that you notice deposits suspended in the cleaning solution. Turn off the heater and, if necessary, wear a pair of rubber protective gloves and scrub the surface of the water heater. Make sure the scrubbing brush has natural or plastic bristles to avoid causing any damage when you descale. This step can be undertaken while the cleaning solution is being drained.

Step 5 – Rinse

Once the cleaning solution has been completely drained, you must rinse out the appliance. This will serve to remove any deposits and traces of white vinegar.

Fill the water heater with fresh water to its capacity and leave it for a few minutes before letting it drain. This is a process that must be repeated in order to ensure the water heater is properly rinsed. It can then be refilled, turned on and used as normal.

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