New water heater - element has to be cleaned every 2 months

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LJB3

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Hi,

I had an old AOS 40 gallon, 4500 Watt water heater that I would drain every year and check the elements which would be moderately calcified. The original elements had been replaced years ago, and the ones in it were garden variety HD foldback ones that were at least 5+ years old. It finally needed replacing and I bought a Rheem 40 gallon, 4500 watt at HD. Within 2 months, it was making lots of noise, and soon stopped heating water. I drained it and removed the elements. Top element was the standard foldback and was encrusted with more calicum than I'd ever seen. So much the element barely came out. The bottom element was a straight copper one and was not calcified, but was not working, so I replaced it with a standard foldback element. Now 2 months later, the noises started and the top element is encrusted again. I have not checked the bottom one yet.

Nothing is different, so I am struggling to know why this is happeneing. The temperature settings are the same (about 125 F). Should I switch to 3800 watt elements? Buy better quality elements? I'd like to be able to go at least 6 months before having to clean the elements.
 

hj

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I have never heard of any "cleaning" the elements. In most cases the upper one is immaterial since it seldom operates unless you use a lot of hot water at one time. Buy stainless steel foldback elements and they will last a long time. Whether they will make a noise or not I cannot tell you.
 

LJB3

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By cleaning, I mean removing the calcium scale using a wire brush and vinegar. I used to do this once a year to remove minor deposits of scale on the elements.
 

Reach4

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Consider a softener, for more than just keeping your WH from liming up.
 

LJB3

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I know we have hard water (county, not well), but I didn't have a bad problem with the old heater. Something is causing this one to scale up much much quicker. I guess I'll try some differnet elements first.
 

hj

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Ihave serviced water heaters and had my own for over 65 years and have NEVER, NEVER "cleaned the elements". If I remove an element, usually because they burned out, or for any other reason, I would NEVER reinstall it.
 

LJB3

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Ihave serviced water heaters and had my own for over 65 years and have NEVER, NEVER "cleaned the elements". If I remove an element, usually because they burned out, or for any other reason, I would NEVER reinstall it.

In that case, I would be changing elements every 2 months as the popping noise due to heavy calcium deposit is terrible and I can tell the heater is working longer to heat up the water.
What does not make sense is that before I put in this new heater, I never had a problem with calcium buildup on the elements. So I was thinking maybe it was the temperature, but this new one is set for 120-125F as the last one. Or maybe it was the style of element. Or maybe the flow pattern in the old heater caused the calcium to break off and fall to the bottom? When draining the old heater each year, there were deposits that came out. Anyway, that is what I'm really asking. I realize I'll probably need a water softener, but I've been in the home for 20 years without one with no problems until this.
 

Cacher_Chick

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The proper solution is to treat the water using a softener. I have seen electric tanks run 20+ years without ever looking at them.
 
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