Hard water is the result of minerals and sediments suspended in the water. Not only does it affect water quality, it can also shorten the life expectancy of your water heater if you don't take steps to counteract the hard water.
1. Regular Flushing
Flushing the water heater at regular intervals is the single best thing you can do to prevent hard water mineralization buildup. For most homes, once yearly flushing is sufficient. You can do this task yourself or have it done as part of a professional annual tune-up and inspection. The basic process requires shutting off the water to the heater. Then, a hose is connected to the drain valve on the tank. The water and sediment in the tank is drained out. In extreme cases you may also need to run more water through the tank in order to flush out the remaining sediment.
2. Anode Replacement
There are anodes placed inside the tank that serve a single purpose which is to prevent rust inside the tank from causing sediment buildup. The anode work via electrolysis. An electrical current causes the rod to attract the rust causing elements in the tank so that rust affects the anode and not the tank itself, thus preventing rust sedimentation inside the tank. Anodes can last for many years, but eventually they will need to be replaced. Inspect the anode annually to ensure it is replaced in a timely manner.
3. Temperature Adjustment
Mineralization occurs more rapidly at high temperatures. This is because the hard minerals in the water—lime, magnesium, calcium, and iron—will precipitate more quickly out of the water at a high temperature. You can slow sediment buildup from mineralization by lowering the temperature in the tank. A temperature of around 120 degrees Fahrenheit is typically recommended because this is hot enough to kill bacteria but not so hot as to cause issues with the water heater.
4. Water Softener Installation
If you live in an area with a lot of hard minerals or sediment in the water, then you may need to take steps to remove this excess before the water even makes it into your hot water tank. A water softener is usually the solution. You can either install a whole house softener, which is placed on the water main at the point of entry into your home, or you can install an inline softener on the water line leading into your water heater. Although more expensive, a whole house softener is often ideal because it will solve all the hard water issues in your home, not just those pertaining to hot water.
Contact a water heater service in your area like Arnold & Sons Plumbing, Sewer & Drain Services to about learn more to combat hard water in your home.