RV Tech Corner
with Mark Gorrie
I replaced the electric heating element in my seven-year-old Atwood ten-gallon water heater. As I loosened the element for removal, the front of it dropped down and pieces of the calcium corrosion broke off and fell inside the tank. I rinsed the tank using the wand a dozen times and even filled and drained the tank several times but the hot water continues to be the color of the calcium. Short of replacing the tank, how can I remove the pieces that broke off? —Alan Reeves
Calcium builds up in water heaters over time and routine maintenance can diminish these deposits. In your case, replacing the heating element was a wise choice. To remove the calcium buildup that came off the element, fill your water heater 50% of the way with vinegar. Fill it the rest of the way with fresh water. Once the tank is full, turn it on and leave it for at least an hour. Turn the tank off and let it sit for at least four hours. This will dissolve the deposits that broke off of the heating element and work to loosen other calcium deposits that have built up over time.
Replace the drain plug and fill the water heater with fresh water this time. Once it is full, drain it again. Repeat your rinsing procedure to continue removing calcium deposits. The strainer will help you observe your progress. Replace the drain plug and fill the tank again and drain it. Continue to repeat the rinsing procedure until the calcium deposits are at a minimum in the strainer.
Mark Gorrie has been an avid RVer since 2003 and owns RVForce LLC, a full-service mobile and shop-based RV repair facility based in Winter Haven, Florida. RVForce has a full team of certified technicians on staff to answer your RV questions. Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org .