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Thread: Scrapping out a full brine tank

  1. #1
    Supporting Member rgsparber's Avatar
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    Scrapping out a full brine tank

    What could have been an endless task turned out to be rather satisfying. I just had to realize what was valuable and what was not.

    Here are the details.


    Your comments are welcome. All of us are smarter than any one of us.

    Thanks,

    Rick

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    Rick

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    Supporting Member Karl_H's Avatar
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    So you went out and got a new water softener system as an excuse to get a Ryobi Multitool? Brilliant!

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    Looks like a positively delightful job. Ever replace an old water heater? It's like the Devil himself took a dump in the bottom of those things. There's a reason why you're supposed to cook with water from the cold water tap.

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    Supporting Member WmRMeyers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nova_robotics View Post
    Looks like a positively delightful job. Ever replace an old water heater? It's like the Devil himself took a dump in the bottom of those things. There's a reason why you're supposed to cook with water from the cold water tap.
    You're also supposed to flush the bottom of the water heater every spring. When the 50gallon water heater that was in the house when I bought it in 1996 finally died in 2009 or 10, there was no grunge in the bottom. And the cooking with cold water is because the hot water leaches lead out of the old soldered pipes, or so I was told long, long ago, and far, far away. There is at least one advantage to plastic pipe, I guess.

    When the cheapy 20gallon heater failed in 2017, I put in the cheapest tankless water heater I could find. It's flaking out now, but didn't get all the maintenance it was supposed to get. I have some medical expenses we put on a credit card to take care of before I can replace it, so we reset the computer a few times a day, and have gotten used to the water temp fluctuating, despite very good flow. I'm not as skinny as I was when that thing went in, either. Makes it tougher to work on it.

    I believe I'll be having the new one install by someone else if I can't fix this one...

    Something about biting bullets and reaching for wallets.

    Bill

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    Quote Originally Posted by WmRMeyers View Post
    You're also supposed to flush the bottom of the water heater every spring. When the 50gallon water heater that was in the house when I bought it in 1996 finally died in 2009 or 10, there was no grunge in the bottom.
    I replaced my water heater (still good at the time) with a gigantic 400L unit made out of 304 stainless and installed a magnesium anode. The water is insanely acidic around here. It's basically battery acid. Every garbage day you can see a hot water heater on the side of the road. Even with the crappy water around here, nobody and I mean nobody maintains their tanks. Nobody has even heard of changing an anode, and no one has ever flushed the tank. They just throw them out ever 6-8 years.

    Quote Originally Posted by WmRMeyers View Post
    And the cooking with cold water is because the hot water leaches lead out of the old soldered pipes, or so I was told long, long ago, and far, far away. There is at least one advantage to plastic pipe, I guess.
    Nope. The majority of water heaters come with aluminum anodes. The whole point of the sacrificial anode is for it to corrode preferentially and drop junk into the tank. Aluminum is a heavy metal and you do not want it in your body. Lots of badness there, mostly neurological stuff. You want to minimize your exposure to aluminum, and definitely don't want to be drinking the stuff.

    Copper piping is one my pet peeves. That is basically an obsolete building material at this point. PEX is a superior material in nearly every way. The only places you should be using copper is in very high temperature applications (higher than normal potable water), and where there's a high rate of rodent infestation. In almost all other cases PEX is what you should be using. It blows the doors off of copper and in most cases has a much longer service life. Also CPVC sucks and the only reason it's still around is because it makes straight lines so plumbers can look like they did a good job. It's a garbage material.

    Quote Originally Posted by WmRMeyers View Post
    When the cheapy 20gallon heater failed in 2017, I put in the cheapest tankless water heater I could find. It's flaking out now, but didn't get all the maintenance it was supposed to get.
    I'm going to be putting up a new shop pretty soon and I think you're right about the tankless route. It's just too easy and makes a whole lot of sense, especially for low demand applications. Another thing I did was install a waste water heat recovery system. One of the best things I've ever done. It's dead easy and it just works. Install it inline of the drain on a shower and it pre-heats the water going into your hot water tank. My cold water supply into my hot water tank went from bone chilling to luke warm. It does about 1/3 of the work of the hot water tank, for free. Saving money is all well and good, but the biggest benefit I've noticed is that I can't outrun the hot water tank anymore. Since the heating element is only doing 2/3 of the work, the inlaws can come over and have as many showers as they want and we never run out of hot water. Previously three or four showers in a row and we'd be out of hot water. It's a great system and dead simple. It's just a pipe.

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    Supporting Member hemmjo's Avatar
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    I have to say it hurt me to see a perfectly good, heavy duty, plastic barrel cut up and tossed away like that. Having replaced many water softeners, you can easily suck the water out the float tube along the side using a wet dry shop vac. The resin tank just lifts out, then you tip the brine tank to the side and shovel the salt into smaller buckets if there is too much to lift. Then the salt is not contaminated with plastic from cutting up the tank. Just another way to solve the problem.

    In regard to HW tanks. I was called to repair an electric HW tank that would not heat. It was SO BAD that I could not even remove the TOP element, as the tank was packed so full of junk. Fortunately the home had a walk out basement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hemmjo View Post
    I have to say it hurt me to see a perfectly good, heavy duty, plastic barrel cut up and tossed away like that.
    I'm a massive pack rat, bordering on hoarder. I see fibreglass pressure tanks on the side of the road all the time. I've always resisted the urge to throw them in the back of my truck. I keep thinking that the diaphragm is leaking and the tank is probably still good. Not sure what I'd use them for. It just seems like a waste. In your experience is it just a diaphragm failure?

    Edit: Come to think of it, I rarely see steel pressure tanks out for garbage day. That can't be a good sign.
    Last edited by nova_robotics; Jan 28, 2022 at 03:54 AM.

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    Supporting Member hemmjo's Avatar
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    Steel tanks end up at the recycling yard rather than the trash. They are often extra heavy due to the gunk inside them.

    Rather than leak, either the diaphragm fails and they get water logged or they fill with gunk that plugs the inlet/outlet. Water can get IN when the pump is running, but as water tries to flow out when the pump is off, gunk blocks the outlet and flow is reduced to a trickle.

    I have only replaced one diaphragm type fiberglass pressure tank and it was NOT a fun day for me. The diaphragm was bad, the tank was totally filled with sludge, no air in it. I was not able to blow air into the Schrader valve on top to force the contents out the bottom. The well water had a very high iron content. The tank was full of iron bacteria sludge, so much that I could not get anything through the fitting at the bottom. I started punching holes in the tank with a hammer and chisel, I was up about a foot on a 4 foot tall tank before I could get anything to drain out. Even then very water came out as the tank was filled with "gelled sludge", NASTY, RUSTY, STRONG sulfur smelling gunk. Even punched a hole above the diaphram and found that section had filled with the same gunk. I was never able to totally drain that tank. I was younger and stronger then. I wrestled it up out of the basement. I should have taken that tank home and cut it apart to look inside, but I was just too worn out to wrestle it into my truck. I just left it for their trash guys to take.

    I am a packrat also, but some things are not worth messing with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hemmjo View Post
    Steel tanks end up at the recycling yard rather than the trash. They are often extra heavy due to the gunk inside them.
    I dunno. I see hot water tanks out on trash day pretty much every garbage day. It's always the same around here. Hot water tanks and barbecues on the side of the road. The scrap metal dealer comes out to my shop periodically, and I've sent her text messages when there's an extra good haul of hot water tanks and barbecues but she never comes out. There's very little steel in those tanks, and they have to be ripped apart to get the insulation out. I'm guessing it's not worth the gasoline.

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    Since we're on plumbing, I have a couple of related questions if that's ok?

    1. Anyone here have a heat pump water heater? They are supposedly significantly more energy efficient, and I'd appreciate real-world feedback. My current hot water heater is in our insulated but not climate-controlled Garage. We're in Tennessee, so we have twice or more as many warm days as cold days.

    2. For replacing the zincs in a water heater, how do you get them out? Mine don't even budge with my biggest pipe wrench; The whole water heater rotates.

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