Question about Rheem 40 Gallon FVR NATGAS Low WATER HEATER 6YR 22V40SF

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Water heater is bubbling with the sound of sediment

The water heater makes a bubbling sound. There is sediment on the bottom of the tank. How do we drain it and get rid of the sediment?

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Mike Wenger

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You can try to flush the sediment with the water and power on. Just hook a short hose to the drain and shoot it into a clean white bucket (so you can see what comes out). The drains on most water heaters are far too constricted to flush anything but the small particles, so if your problem continues you might consider replacing the factory drain with a short 3/4" dielectric pipe nipple, a 3/4" full port ball valve, a 3/4" m.i.p. x 3/4" garden hose male and a garden hose cap with hose washer. That will give you some serious flushing capability.

If all of these steps won't get rid of your noises take comfort in the fact that the noise may be a nuisance to you, but it is not doing any really bad damage to your heater. I also strongly recommend getting a water softener to prevent this problem from ever happening again.


Posted on Apr 05, 2009



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Install waterhose to the draindown valve at the bottom, turn off the supply valve at the top, either break the cold supply line or flit the lever of the temperature and pressure valve ( to break the vacuum ) If it is electric, turn off the breaker, if it is gas turn the red knob on the bottom to the off position. Let all the water drain. Open the cold water supply valve and let it run for around 15 to 30 minutes.
Close the T&P valve ( or tighten the supply line ) Open a hot water fixture ( I would use the tub ) When water starts flowing from the tub faucet with no air, turn on the electricity or gas valve. This should be don once a year.

Posted on Apr 05, 2009



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I've faced this with a number of hot water heaters, both gas and electric. It is possible to get rid of the sediment buildup. The replacement of the factory drain will help some, however, it may not get all because some buildup settles back down in the water faster than the water could move it around to drain out. The drain doesn't reach all the way down to the bottom of the tank, but rather an inch or 2 above the bottom.
One solution depends on how much work you're willing to do, or pay someone to do. You'll need access into the tank for a tool you'll have to rig up. For electric water heaters, remove the lower heating element. The tool: Take any larger size shop-vac that sucks water, using adapters and/or ducttape, attach a flexible rubber hose to the shop vac. This hose must be small enough to fit into the element hole. It also needs to have the largest inner diameter you can get. For the most part, the sediment is not powder but mostly chunks - some the size of small marbles, some the size of golf balls, some the size of BB's. All of which is easily crushed and comes apart when pressed on. Using the shop vac /rubber hose combo tool, insert the hose into the element hole and vacuum away moving it around inside as you go. You'll need to expect this to take some time. It's slow. Large chunks can be crushed using the hose or using a pole or rod that fits inside to crush it. You may not be able to get 100% of it, but with patience, you can get about 85% - 90% I'm estimating, and enough to have the water heater working well again.
To get 100%, you would need to remove the water heater to outside, and allow for it to lay down, again using the vacuum hose, and working away at it until you get all of it. Expect it take time. Possibly over an hour or two working away at it. (It depends on how much work you're willing to do, or how much money you're willing to pay someone else.)
For gas water heaters, there is no element hole (a large hole), you'll have to get a smaller hose meaning that the vacuum process will be even slower. Check your heater to see what the hold size is. Remember, the hose has to easily fit inside the pipe hole and be able to be moved around inside and out. To make the job "easier", again remove it to outside, and turn it on it's side or better - upside down using the holes at the top of the water heater and vacuuming from underneath.
It takes time but it can be done, and has been done by others.

Posted on Sep 15, 2009

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I'm not sure what you mean by "gurgles when refilling." If you mean that it is making noise when heating the water, that is usually a sign that sediment has built up in the bottom of the tank. This results in the surface of the tank bottom to overheat and the sound you hear is the water flashing to steam. This usually results in tank failure as the glass lining will crack an the tank will rust out. If it's not too late you could drain and flush the tank to try to remove the sediment but if has hardened to a solid mass it won't come out.

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1) The pressure release valve is operating correctly and the sound it made is typical.
So pressure release is okay.
Always protect yourself from very hot water that can spray out of pressure release.

2) Rumbling sound is typical sign of sediment build-up inside tank, and usually indicates that tank needs to be cleaned out.
Seems odd that a brand-new tank could have sediment after only 8-9 months.
Did somebody recycle a 'new-looking' heater and sell it as 'new' heater?
Look at label on side of tank, and find brand and serial number to find actual age of water heater:

3) Because sound might not be sediment.
You can add a comment and it will send e-mail, and I will continue to answer.
No reason to be terrified of water heater. They are very safe, and homeowner can fix electric water heater same day for a few dollars.

4) Please listen to exactly where sound is coming from.

5) If sound seems to come from the pipes, and pipes are vibrating, then the plumbing is suspect, for example a check-valve, or pressure valve, and we can talk about that when you add a comment.

6) If sound is from inside the tank, then I suggest you turn off power, let water cool, drain water heater, open bottom of water heater, remove element, and check for sediment.

7) Take a moment and rate answer:
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To eliminate sand and dirt from entering your water heater, the 'sediment' filter should be installed on Cold line.
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