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Old 04-01-2009, 20:16   #1
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Fresh water tank - white crystals

Help - I'm getting these hard white crystal like deposits coming out of my water tank">fresh water tank and clogging the strainer of my fresh water pump. Somebody told me it was most likely calcium deposits inside my tank. Does anyone know how to get rid of such a thing?

Thanks!
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Old 04-01-2009, 23:09   #2
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No help here, other than to send your post back to the top. Hopefully someone can assist...
John
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Old 04-01-2009, 23:42   #3
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Fresh water tank - white crystals

I have heard some say that they use Calgon water softener, but I suggest using white vinegar and its cheap (and I presume safer) Buy the gallon containers and dilute with 50% water. Flush to each valve (remove the diffuser screens first) in your water supply and leave it overnight. Repeat as needed; and while youre at it, pump a quart of the diluted vinegar through your head and both sides of the Y Valve. Flush out the next day.

(BTW One of the pistons on my whisker pole jammed due to encrusted salt. Using bungee cords I stood the pole vertical with the jammed end in a plastic peanut butter jar filled with vinegar. Next day I lightly tapped the end and presto!)
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Old 05-01-2009, 03:24   #4
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Seabound,

What is your water tank made of?
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Old 05-01-2009, 04:05   #5
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The tank material does make a difference in what you might do to treat the problem. If you have an inspection port I would open it up after pumping out the tank and look and see what you have in there.
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Old 05-01-2009, 06:51   #6
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Tank

I believe it is a stainless steel tank. I am not aware of any access port to the tank (it's really buried on the port side). I've tried draing and flushing the tank several times but the problem persists. It's like it is really crusted up in there.
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Old 05-01-2009, 08:09   #7
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When I Pulled out my 28 year old stainless steel water heater it was full (not really full-full) of the same white crystal flakes you speak of....the weird thing was it also had blue ones and red ones and yellow ones....so bizarre!

I replaced it.
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Old 05-01-2009, 08:45   #8
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Calcium, lime salts, and minerals can be deposited in a water tank over the many years of use. Vinegar will break down these deposits just like it will when you clean an automatic drip coffee maker. The problem will be that the amount of vinegar required and the number of treatments might be quite large. It essentially requires you to dissolve all the material and then pump it out. There would be no easy way to tell how much of the deposits were removed or left in the tank.

There are stronger commercial products that could easily do the job faster but to use them requires access ports to the tank so you can see what you are dealing with and have a way to wash and remove the residue and dissolved salts and minerals without have to suck it out with your freshwater pump. Commercial lime removers are toxic. Strong chemicals are neither good for the water lines or the pump. Trashing the water lines in the process of cleaning the tank isn't much of a benefit.

Vinegar has limited power but it won't hurt you. Flushing the system could help. The deposits should not pose a health problem since you normally drink some with water that you drink at home. I really would not pour anything into your tank you couldn't drink so long as you can not use an access port to clean up the tank.

Using the brute force required to install an access port I think it worth your piece of mind. There are easy to install ports if you can make the rough hole opening in the tank. They use a folding frame that can be inserted through the hole and a second frame that goes on the outside. Through bolts can then be applied to seal the opening and not leak. The same system is available for fuel tanks as well.
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:46   #9
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The principle cause of your problem is hard water is caused by calcium carbonate. You could treat your drinking water by lowering its pH (moving the pH towards more acidic) and the problem would go away because the salts would remain in suspension. Try adding a slight amount of vinegar to your water. Of course, not so much that you can taste. There are also tasteless acids that in small amounts are harmless to people. They are used in food all the time.

Changing the pH of your hard water will stop the problem for good. Do this and you wont have to take anything apart. The deposits you see now will gradually dissolve away.
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Old 05-01-2009, 09:48   #10
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Hey guys thanks a lot for the feedback. I'm thinking that it may indeed be my hot water heater tank. I've been reading where this is a major source of the calcium build-up. I will try the vinegar in the fresh water tank - but agree I would probably need a whole lot of it. I'm pretty sure my hot water tank is original - 21 years old.
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Old 05-01-2009, 10:17   #11
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That sounds like a good solution. Rinse with a mild acid such as vinegar and then treat your tank thereafter with a mild acid each time you fill up. That will make the problem go away for good.
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Old 05-01-2009, 12:01   #12
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Potable water tank problems.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by Seabound View Post
Help - I'm getting these hard white crystal like deposits coming out of my fresh water tank and clogging the strainer of my fresh water pump. Somebody told me it was most likely calcium deposits inside my tank. Does anyone know how to get rid of such a thing?
Folks I think you may have the cart in front of the horse unless this is a different kind of system!

Seabound states as you see above the material is in the strainer to his pump. The strainer is usually between the potable water tank on the suction side of the pump with the hotwater heater etc. downstream on the pressure side of said pump. I am not aware of a system the pulls the water through hotwater heater.

He goes on further to say that he believed " it is a stainless steel tank. I am not aware of any access port to the tank (it's really buried on the port side). I've tried draing and flushing the tank several times but the problem persists. It's like it is really crusted up in there."

The tank material has not been confirmed for sure (from what I have read so far in this thread)and all of this has the signs and symtoms of what is a normal process with aluminum water tanks as they age and have internal corrosion and is more pronounced in older tanks. The material is probably aluminum chloride hydrate. It is not toxic but a mess to remove. You will have to cut an access and clean the inside of the tank. We used a wet vac and a brush on a recent refit of vessel with 25 year old aluminum tanks.

I would suggest that the tank material be confirmed before you go dumping a bunch of stuff into your tank and water system.

I can post some photographs later of the interior of a tank I am speaking of if anyone is interested. Just PM me.

Hope this helps and a Happy New Year to all of you,

John J.
ABYC Master Technician
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Old 05-01-2009, 13:26   #13
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John,

Good post! That's why I asked what his tank was made of. If it's aluminum, putting "city" water in it will produce the white chunky lumps, which is aluminum chloride.

How about removing the pickup tube? If you can get to it, and remove it, you can gain at least a bit of access to the tank.

Further, if the stuff is coming out of the water tank and clogging the pressure pump strainer, try putting a whole house filter in line before the strainer. Use the coarsest filter element, and you will solve your plugging problem.
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Old 05-01-2009, 13:31   #14
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Guys - I just confirmed it is an aluminum tank...probably seen about 15 years worth of city water.
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Old 05-01-2009, 13:47   #15
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That's good to know, Seabound. You will definitely need to gain access to the tank. It probably has several inches of aluminum chloride sludge in the bottom of it. The shop vac already mentioned, hooked up to a piece of PVC pipe will suck up the junk pretty well.

Chlorinated water is hard on aluminum tanks. When you fill up in the future, if you run the city water through a carbon filter (one of those RV filters, for example, or a whole house filter you can buy at Home Depot) it will remove the chlorine.
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