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How to clean a hot water heater with bleach

Clean water heater with clorox

Chlorinate water heater: to eliminate bacteria that can accumulate and grow in water heaters.

Bacteria often cause odorous or discolored water conditions.
1) Turn off gas or electric
2) Turn off cold supply to water heater
3) Drain tank... open bathtub spout on hot side
4) Remove anode rod(s)
Note: Some anode rods are installed in a port located on top of heater. Some anode rods are 'combo' and are part of hot water nipple   Read about anode rods   Read: how to remove short nipple
5) Use funnel to add bleach into anode rod opening
6) Add 1 Gallon Bleach for every 25 gallon capacity
7) Inspect and/or buy new anode rod
8) Install anode rod back into water heater using 6 wraps teflon tape on threads
9) Fill tank with cold water
10) When tank is full, draw chlorinated water to every hot water fixture.
11) Run dishwasher until chlorine odor is detected. Then turn off dishwasher.
12) Run washing machine until chlorine odor is detected. Then turn off washing machine
14) Run each faucet on hot side until chlorine odor is detected. Then turn off faucet
15) Every hot water pipe must be filled with chlorine water.
16) Let chlorine water sit inside pipes for at least 1 hour.
17) After 1 hour, drain tank.
18) Refill tank and wait 15 minutes, then drain tank again.
19) Keep flushing tank until chlorine odor and/or discoloration is gone.
20) Then flush each water line until chlorine odor is gone
21) Water heater must be full of water before gas or electric power is restored  Read: how to light gas water heater
Chlorinate water heater

Remove anode rod

Bacteria reacts with anode rod, causing odor
Important to remove and inspect or replace anode rod when chlorinating water heater
Re-install anode rod during chlorination so anode is treated with bleach

Anode rods at Amazon
Buy 1-1/16" socket at Amazon
Buy 16" breaker bar at Amazon

How to replace anode rod
Anode rod with resistor
Hex-head Anode rod w/ resistor
Last longer than ordinary?
Buy .7 resistor anode at Amazon
Resistor anode .9 diameter
Flexible resistorized .9 anode
Buy anodes at Amazon
Read about resistorized on this page
Anode rod with resistor
Flexible hex-head anode
Not enough space above heater
Flexible resistorized anode
Flexible anode rods at Amazon
Buy anodes at Amazon
Read about flexible on this page
Anode rods
Buy solid hex-head anode
1-1/16" hex head
Zinc-Aluminum or magnesium
Buy Zinc for odor control
Buy anodes at Amazon

Read more on this page
Read about controlling odor
Anode rod with resistor
Combo Anode rod
Connected to hot water nipple
Buy combo zinc-aluminum at Amazon
Buy combo magnesium at Amazon
Buy anodes at Amazon
Read about combo on this page

Don't use Bleach unless necessary

Use hydrogen peroxide to eliminate odors

Easier to rinse out of tank and plumbing afterwards
Will remove odor
Water heater odor
Applies to gas and electric water heaters
Larger image

Read about odor and anode rods

Control odor by adding Hydrogen Peroxide or bleach regularly

Read more about anode odor problem at pro water heater forum
Install ball valve on Hot side so you can pour in peroxide
Hot side will allow peroxide to enter top of tank. (cold side will put peroxide at bottom)
Applies to gas and electric heaters.

Turn off power to water heater:
Let tank cool so hot does not explode out ball valve
Shut off cold water to tank.

Open bathtub hot side to release pressure.
Leave bathtub valve open until finished. This will tell you when tank has refilled and ready to apply power.

Drain 2 gallons from tank

Add 2 pints harmless Hydrogen peroxide to water heater. Let stand for 2 hours.
H2O2 is easy to flush out, and generally harmless to people. Can be used as mouthwash, read label on hydrogen peroxide bottle.
Do not use clorox.
CLOROX is NOT used for this purpose since it cannot be easily flushed out, and bleach odor can last weeks or longer coming out each tap for extended period of time.
Then drain tank to flush hydrogen peroxide. Refill completely until water is coming out of bathtub drain, then turn on water heater. Applies to gas and electric heaters.

Buy parts to make this drain valve
Di electric nipple
Ball valve at Amazon

Plastic funnels at Amazon
Buy hydrogen peroxide at Grocery store or Drug store
Flush tool
tank rinser

Buy plastic tank rinser

Tank rinser at Amazon

Brass hose cap

Water heater drain cap

If drain valve is dripping

Buy brass garden hose cap with washer
Most local home centers sell plastic cap
Install plastic cap and then order brass hose cap for permanent solution.
Brass hose caps at Amazon
Hose cap requires rubber washer.
Rubber washer will seal tank.

Emergency steps for leaking water heater
Troubleshoot leaking water heater
Water heater will not drain
Drip pan
Drip pan saves damage

Prevent water damage to home:

Set water heater in drip pan
Make sure water hose can attach to drain valve !!!

Water heater drip pans at Amazon

See drip pan installation
Drain pan no greater than 1-1/2” deep and at least 2” wider than tank.
Pan must not restrict air flow to bottom of gas water heater that has 3-legs. Set 3-legged water heater on bricks..
TP discharge pipe cannot be lower than top rim of drain pan.
Automatic water heater shut off valve
Automatic shut off valve

Product that can save money: Prevent flood damage/ automatic shut off valve

Savings undetermined/ save massive damage to home
Shut off water automatically when leak is detected
Valve attaches to water line... detector sits on floor... electric power does not rely on batteries

Water detectors at Amazon
Automatic water heater leak shut off at Amazon

Leaking water heater/ steps
Combo vrsus hex anode rods

Water softener shortens life of tank

Softened water will cause anode rod to deteriorate faster.
Andode rod prevents tank from rusting

Resources: Read about anode rods
Honeywell mixing device
mixing valve

Product that will save money: Use mixing valve

Save 50 cents per month/ vrs cost of product and install
How does this save hot water?
Remember, a mixing valve is exactly what you do at shower faucet to keep temperature from being too hot... you add cold water to hot.
So each faucet; bath, kitchen, shower and tub faucet is a mixing valve... where you manually adjust water temperature by adding cold
Each time hot tap is turned on, cold water immediately enters bottom of water heater as hot water leaves top of tank going to shower..
When you use mixing valve located at water heater instead of mixing valve located at shower, then you save the amount of hot water that travels down the pipe going to shower.
Good off-peak strategy... heat water off peak... then conserve hot water during peak times
Good solar strategy.... heat water during peak sunshine... then conserve hot water throughtout night
How much hot water is saved?
Every 10 feet of 1/2 pipe holds .12 gallons of water.
If bathroom is 20 feet away. 3 showers per day .72 gallons per day x 365 days = 262 gallons of cold water that does not enter tank.
That means 262 gallons of cold water is not heated to thermostat set point.
The math can be more complex than this 2-D example. But a mixing valve keeps more cold water out of tank, and water heater stays hotter
Buy from my affiliate links:
Mixing valve kit at Amazon
Water heater mixing valves at Amazon
Advantages-disadvantages of mixing valve
Review solar water heater
Off peak ideas for electric heater
Ways to increase amount of hot water

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