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  Hot Water tank

Flushing the
Hot Water Tank

 This is a simple project, but it does require a wrench or other tool to remove the drain plug. To complete the flush, purchase a flushing tool (photo below) from any RV store.

To make sure you follow the steps in order, write everything down on a card. After the flush, store the card away for the
next time.

Turn off the water heater and allow several hours for it to cool. Before you remove the drain plug, run some water from one of the hot faucets to make sure that the water is not hot enough to burn.
Cover the gas burner tube to protect it from the water drain.
Turn off the water to the RV and remove the drain plug or electric element (Lightning Rod or Hot Rod).

Hot Water Heater

4. To drain it more quickly, lift the lever of the pressure relief valve. That allows air into the heater and the tank drains much quicker, and it is good to exercise the valve to keep it working properly.
5. With the drain plug out, close the relief valve and turn city water back on to flush out the tank.
Install the flushing tool (shown below) to a garden hose and use it to wash the interior of the heater by pointing it downward. This ensures that all solids are flushed from the heater.

Flushing Tool

7. Continue to use the flushing tool until the water is clear. Once the water comes out clean, allow the water to drain, reinstall the drain plug or heating element, and refill the water heater.
8. Wrap the drain plug threads with Plumber’s tape. To secure the drain plug against a possible link.
9. Once the heater is filled, run water through a hot water faucet to be sure the air is all out, then turn the heater back on.
10. Store the tools in a plastic bag to keep them clean until time to do this job again.
  Option: To ensure all the mineral deposits are cleaned out of the tank, add 3 gallons of white vinegar to a 6-gallon tank and set soak for 2 hours minimum, then flush.
bullet Replacing the Anode Rod

...............Anode Compare

...............Reusable......Not Reusable

One of the most important considerations that extends the life of your water heater is whether the anode rod is performing its job - to divert corrosive action away from the tank walls to the anode rod.

Salt water also shortens the life of the rod, so if you have a soft water conditioning system that uses salt, be prepared to replace the rod sooner.

When you smell an offensive odor in the water, it is time to flush the water heater.

If you have a Suburban brand of hot water heater, replacing your anode rod at regular intervals may increase the life of your water heater.

This saves you money, time and the inconvenience of having to replace your water heater.

bullet Reuse the Anode Rod?

You may be able to reuse the anode rod after flushing if you soak it in white vinegar for a few hours and scrape the mineral deposits off. Steel wool works, along with a sharp blade.

bullet Does Your Heater Have an Anode Rod?

Atwood manufactures a water heater with an aluminum tank that resists corrosion, hence no anode rod necessary.

There are some older Atwoods, however, that need an anode rod. The only way to tell is to open the drain valve. If there is a anode rod installed (not a heating element), then your water heater needs an anode rod replacement.

Magnesium, aluminum, or a combination of aluminum, zinc, and tin are the most common elements used to manufacture anode rods. There are also flexible options for low ceiling clearance or difficult access points.

The condition of your anode rod (and whether it is time to replace it) depends upon your water quality, how much the water heater is used, the running temperature, and of course the craftsmanship of the tank itself.


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