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Old 08-17-18, 04:25 AM   #1
oil pan 4
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Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: NM
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Default Electric water heater maintenance

Doing preventive maintenance on the hot water heater is about as exciting watching paint dry, but with a replacement cost of $500+ plus installation if you can't install it your self it's time well spent.
But if you can do this you can probably replace your water heater your self, if you can get it drained.
I don't know about you but I can think of a lot better things to do with $500 than replace a water heater.
Electric water heaters last as little as between 4 and 9 years if you install them and forget about it, if you take good care of your water heater it can last 20 to 30 years.

Moved in last year haven't had a chance to toy with the water heater much.
I wanted to move the water heater all the way into the corner of the water heater and hvac closet.
While I was at it I figured that it's time to do a drain, flush/purge and check the elements, remove the plastic drain valve install a 1/4 turn ball valve drain, a new magnesium sacrificial anode also install a range cord and terminate the romex into a 4 inch handy box. This allows me to kill power to the hot water heater and gives me a 30 amp 240v receptacle right next to the garage.

First step turn off power, turn off the water to the hot water heater, disconnect lines, unwired water heater elements and drain the hot water heater.
I took that time to disconnect the 10/2 romex and terminate it in a 4 inch box on a nema 10-50 range receptacle and turned power back on this way I would have power for my air compressor later.
Let the hot water heater drain over night then hauled it out side the next day. I took a 1-1/16 socket took out the anode and a 38mm socket for the elements.

The sacrificial anode was aluminum and I had ordered a magnesium anode last week to put in.

The top element is a 4,500w folded element, came out no problem. Wire brushed it and it was ready to go back in.

The bottom element was also one of those folded over deals stuck in scale the element was bent and spread apart from unscrewing it and wouldn't come out. I grabbed my fence mending pliers, hooked the element with a length of steel wire and twisted the wire to bend the folded tip back together and was able to wiggle it out.
I replaced the bottom element with a straight 3,500w element. Don't put a folded or wavy element on the bottom.

Then with all the heater elements removed I tipped the water heater horizontal with the element screw holes pointing down and hooked the water hose up to one of the empty 3/4 holes. This allowed me to flush out about enough scale to fill a gallon jug.

Then after about 2 hours of flushing, breaking up large chunks all the crust was out. Don't try to flush out the mineral scale through the 3/4 drain hole, it will take all day.

After all that it was time to put it back together. The only external changes are the 1/4 turn ball valve, range cord started to wrap the hot water heater with some left over fiber glass insulation.
Internal changes are removal of built up scale, straight element on the bottom and magnesium anode.

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