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Houston Residential Plumber Tips: Stop Water Heater Scale

Water Heater

Hearing popping, banging, or hissing from your water heater? Having a hard time getting warm water for your shower in the morning? You could have scale buildup in your water heater. This is a common issue your Houston residential plumber sees. However, there are some things you can do to help stop scale buildup in your water heater tank. 

What Is Water Heater Scale?

So, what is water heater scale? This is essentially mineral buildup from your water. Hard water contains minerals like calcium and magnesium. When you heat these minerals up, they can form solid white particles, also called limescale. Limescale can attach to your water heater tank or heating elements. 

Scale can look like small white flakes or even bits of paper floating around in your water heater tank. However, it’s unlikely you’re going to be able to see scale buildup. Instead, you might have other signs. Most often you’ll hear noises like popping or banging if you have a lot of scale buildup. This is because the scale throws off the pressure in the tank. You might also notice that it’s taking longer for your water to heat up or even that your utility bills are higher than normal. If you think you have scale buildup, call our Houston residential plumber for help. 

Why does my Houston residential plumber recommend preventing scale buildup?

What’s the big deal about water heater scale? Probably the most important thing is that it can cost you money!

Water heater scale can interrupt the heating process, which means your water heater will have to work harder to supply you with a warm shower. In fact, limescale can reduce the energy efficiency of your water heater by up to 50%. That means you’re spending more money each month on your utility bill to heat the same amount of water just because of mineral buildup. 

Also, limescale in water heaters can shorten their useful life by about 50%. So, instead of replacing your water heater in ten years, you might be replacing it in five. Water heaters are a pretty big investment, so you want to make them last as long as possible. Replacing a water heater every five years or so can quickly get expensive and frustrating. 

Mineral buildup in your water heater also means you might need frequent Houston water heater repair from our specialists. For example, we may need to replace heating elements because mineral buildup can burn them out. These frequent repairs can also add up and make a dent in your budget.

Our plumbing specialists are here to help you find the most practical and affordable solutions for your home’s plumbing, which is why we warn homeowners about limescale buildup and how to avoid it. Taking a few easy steps can help prevent these issues so you can save money and hassle and keep your water heater in great condition. 

Flush Your Water Heater Once or Twice a Year: DIY or Scheduled Maintenance with Your Houston Residential Plumber

One simple way to prevent scale buildup from ruining your water heater is to have your Houston residential plumber service it once or twice a year. This usually involves an inspection to look for any worn parts and also flushing out your water heater. Flushing the water heater regularly can help remove scale from inside the tank and extend the life of your water heater. 

You can also flush your water heater yourself if you’re comfortable doing so. Here’s how to flush a water heater:

  1. Turn off the gas or electricity to the water heater
  2. Shut off the cold water supply valve
  3. Allow some time for the water in the tank to cool to a safe temperature
  4. Fasten a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank
  5. Position the other end of the hose where the water drainage won’t do any damage
  6. Open the drain valve
  7. Once the water heater tank is empty, close the drain valve
  8. Open the cold water supply valve
  9. Turn the gas or electricity back on

Most manufacturers recommend flushing your water heater at least once a year. However, you may need to do this more often if you have really hard water. Your Houston residential plumber can help you decide how often you need to flush the water heater. 

Cleaning Scale in the Water Heater Tank

If you’re concerned that flushing won’t remove enough scale, you can also clean the water heater tank. Once again, your Houston residential plumber can do this for you or you can try to do it on your own. However, we recommend always checking with manufacturer instructions before using cleaners in your water heater. 

If you’re planning to do this on your own, there are several water heater cleaning products you can buy to help reduce scale. Just make sure you check the manufacturer's instructions for your water heater before using them. 

Also, you may be able to use vinegar to dissolve the mineral buildup in your water heater. To do this, you’ll need to drain the tank (follow steps 1-7 above). Then, you can pour about a gallon of apple cider vinegar inside the tank and allow it to soak for six hours. You can then drain the vinegar from the tank. Make sure to open the cold water supply valve and allow that to drain as well to help flush out any leftover vinegar. Then you can finish up by following the last two steps in the above instructions. 

Ask Your Houston Residential Plumber about Preventing Scale Buildup

While flushing and cleaning your water heater tank can help remove scale buildup, this doesn’t necessarily protect your other plumbing or appliances. For example, scale buildup can also happen in your pipes, dishwasher, and other fixtures. Installing a water softener can help remove the minerals from the water that cause limescale. This can help protect your entire plumbing system from limescale buildup. 

However, if you don’t want to use soft water in your home, another thing you can do is make sure the temperature on your water heater is set properly. The hotter the water, the more limescale buildup you’ll have to deal with. Most manufacturers recommend having the water heater set to 120°F or so. Setting your water heater at a higher temperature than the manufacturer recommends can encourage more scale buildup.

Affordable Houston Residential Plumber With 200+ Years of Combined Experience

If you need a Houston plumbing company, our team at Santhoff Plumbing is here for you. We’re a family-owned and operated business and pride ourselves on your complete satisfaction. Our team works quickly and efficiently to help you with your plumbing needs, whether you need emergency water heater repair or need new plumbing for a home addition. We’ve been proudly serving the Houston area since 1974 and are here to help you with all your plumbing needs. Call us today at (713) 360-2185 to learn more and request service!

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