Keeping Your Plumbing Flowing Smoothly

If you deal with plumbing clogs on a regular basis, you might find yourself struggling with bent wire hangers, chemical drain cleaner, and unfamiliar pipes. Unfortunately, unless you are a trained professional, all of your efforts might be in vain. Most people don't realize it, but it is possible to damage your plumbing by making a few missteps. If you use the wrong chemicals or you push a little too hard, you might end up dealing with damaged pipes or your clogging problem could get worse. Fortunately, you might be able to use this blog to help you to keep your plumbing flowing smoothly.

Not a Day at the Beach: The Truth About Sand in Your Hot Water Heater


To be fair, there is probably not really sand floating in your hot water heater. However, people are amazed when they drain their hot water heater and get a look at the sediment that comes out. It really does resemble sand but is actually calcium carbonate and magnesium. The only true sand in your hot water heater probably originates from a well if that is your water source. With that explained, here's what you need to know about the sediment in your hot water heater, and what you can do about it.

What Is it?

As stated earlier, sediment consists of naturally occurring minerals present in hard water.  Because they are heavier than water, all the tiny particles slowly drift to the bottom of the heater tank over time. If there are enough sediment particles, a layer will form and slowly thicken if you do nothing about it. Sometimes extra particles collect when the water company flushes sediment from the mainline. If you get your water from a well, your water heater could collect extra particles. So, depending on where you live, you may get more or less sediment build up in you water heater.

What Does it Do to My Heater?

A small amount of sediment will not do anything to your hot water heater. Any problems occur when the sediment layer gets thicker, and here's why. Imagine a 2-inch layer of that sand resting on the bottom of your tank. If you have an electric water heater, the heater coil on the bottom of the tank cannot heat water as efficiently because of that nice little layer of mineral insulation. To get that water heated to the right temperature it must work harder, making it less efficient. Up go your utility bills.

Sediment in the tank will block the drain valve and prevent water from coming out. While this might not seem like a big deal because your pipes draw hot water from the top of the tank, there may come a time when you need to access this drain.

Plus, sediment in your tank makes weird noises. Water trapped beneath sediment transforms into steam bubbles, which make popping or snapping sounds.

Finally, that layer of sediment displaces the amount of hot water your tank can store. If you have a smaller capacity tank and a large family, you will notice you run out of hot water sooner than you used to. If you have a larger tank, you might not notice at first.

What Should I Do?

One way to get rid of the sediments is to completely drain all the water from the tank, rinse out the tank with cold water to get out any sediment, then fill the water heater back up again. If you feel like tackling this job yourself, read on my brave friend. Otherwise, call companies like First Class Plumbing LLC. They will know what to do if they encounter a wall of sand inside the tank.

  1. For gas heaters, switch your heater's temperature setting to "pilot". For electric heaters, turn the power off by switching the right circuit at your circuit panel.
  2. Now turn off the valve that fills your tank with cold water and wait until the hot water inside the tank has cooled down.
  3. Hook up a garden hose to the drain at the bottom of the tank. You see, this is where you hope your drain is not completely blocked with sediment.
  4. Position the other end of the hose where the drained water can go.
  5. To prevent a vacuum from forming in the pipes and slowing your drain speed, open a nearby hot water faucet slightly. This can be a sink or bathtub.
  6. Slowly open the drain and let all the water out. Watch out – it might still be very warm.
  7. To flush out any remaining sediment, turn on the cold water intake valve on top of the heater and watch the water draining out. When it runs clear, the sediment has been removed.
  8. Close the drain, take off the garden hose and let the tank refill.
  9. Turn the power back on.


10 May 2017