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Hardware Hints

With Jon Albert



They say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That’s especially true for your electric water heater. What makes a water heater sick? Hard water! In Montana, both

well water and city water can be hard, meaning it’s heavy in minerals such as calcium. Over time, the mineral buildup in your tank can reduce its capacity by up to several gallons, increase corrosion, and increase power consumption by encapsulating the heating element. Corrosion can cause the tank to fail much faster. All those “ills” can be prevented with a once yearly draining and cleaning of the tank.


To complete the job, you will need a garden hose, an element wrench, a shop vacuum, and potentially a piece of vinyl tube. You can hook a hose to the valve located at the bottom of your tank and drain the water outside or into a floor drain, etc. Please make sure the power supply is off before you empty the tank. Once the tank is empty, you can remove the bottom heating element, and through that opening, use a shop vac to vacuum the mineral buildup at the bottom of the tank.


If the heating element shows signs of corrosion, replacing it will probably improve the efficiency of your tank. This simple process will increase lifespan of your water heater.

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