In this blog I would like to talk to people about the importance of proper maintenance of the backbone of your home…. the mighty hot water tank. If the electricity goes out, light a candle and cook food on the bbq. If the water doesn’t work then most people don’t have an outhouse on their properties anymore. If you interrupt the plumbing, you interrupt life here in the north.

Put your hands up if you have run out of hot water before!!  *raises hand* Exactly!!

Why hot water tanks fail

Water!! Did you know that of all the fresh water in the world, we have no new fresh water. That means we are drinking recycled water from millions of years ago. All fresh water has been recycled! Crazy hey? So basically if you wanted to get grossed out, you could think that we were drinking our ancestors recycled pee. lol. Its not that gross actually, since the filtering process done by mother nature is pretty incredible, I’ll write something on that later. 97% of the fresh water that we get comes from the ground, the other 3% of water is found in lakes, rivers, precipitation. Fresh water is collected from underground aquifers, surface water will eventually all lead into an underground aquifer.

Along the way, water passes through soil and collects all sorts of minerals. sodium, calcium,magnesium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and sulfate. A city will drill to find these aquifers to supply the city with water, the water goes through a treatment process and after some testing, the water scientists deem water to be potable and down the pipe system it goes. So if you turn on your tap in the house, there is a 97% chance its ground water! The water scientists do not remove and filter all the minerals out of the water, this would be hazardous to your health. Specifically removing calcium and magnesium would be harmful to health for elders and children, in order to remove calcium and magnesium from the water, a process called ion exchange must happen where basically the calcium and magnesium are replaced with sodium, those elders who have a heart condition would be severely affected! So not all calcium and magnesium are removed from the drinking supply which is where the problem is for your hot water tank!!!

Calcium and magnesium AKA HARD WATER!!! As you heat up water, what is happening is you are leaving behind hard water deposits to settle out in the bottom of your hot water tank. Over time what will happen is you will have a thick layer of corrosive hard water deposits, the result of this is your HWT is having a harder time heating up the water, so do you know what MOST people do to solve that issue? They turn up the thermostat on the HWT!!! BIG NO NO!! This only adds to the problem as hotter water will scale the tank even faster. This scaling will corrode the bottom out of the tank eventually.


What YOU can do

This is very very very simple, all you’re going to do is flush out your HWT once a year to clear the tank of all those deposits. This is how:

  1. Set the HWT thermostat to PILOT
  2. Close the valve on the COLD side located just above the HWT
  3. Go to the highest tap in your house and turn on the hot water, water should only slowly come out then stop entirely
  4. Attach a garden hose to the boiler drain of the HWT. This will be the valve located towards the bottom of the HWT. Direct the hose to the nearest floor drain in the house, I would always plumb in the emergency floor drain very close to the HWT and the furnace. Since you will be doing this every year, you may want to just cut the hose so there isn’t alot of extra coiling around.
  5. Open the valve and drain all the water. WARNING!!!! THIS WILL BE HOT WATER!!! Since your valve may be seized you might want to try to open and close a few times. If you have an old tank that has not been maintained then it will be a brown/red colour. In the unfortunate even that NO water comes out, you might have to contact a local plumber to handle the replacement, if that is the case you might weigh out the pros and cons since hiring a plumber to fix an old HWT will be costly and your tank might not even last very long. In the Edmonton area an expensive plumber will charge over $300 to do this simple fix. Please contact me if you are in the edmonton area for free advise
  6. Now that the water is all out, open the valve to let some water in then close the valve again, do this until the water runs as clear as possible.
  7. Close the boiler drain and detach the garden hose
  8. Open up the valve to fill the HWT
  9. Once the HWT is full, water will now be pouring out of the hot tap upstairs, go upstairs and close the hot tap
  10. Turn the thermostat from pilot to A or 130 degrees depending on the model

Crack a beer and cheers yourself, you just prolonged the life of your HWT