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Old 05-29-2023, 05:17 PM   #1
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Hot water tank question ( what to do when not camping)

Hi all,
I was just curious what you all do when you come back from a camping trip. Do you all drain the hot water tank down and leave the tank empty till next trip or best to leave the water in the tank with the anode on place to help protect the tank?

The reason I ask, last year we went camping only once (in June) and I left the tank full till I had to winterize in October. When I took out the anode rod (also installed in June) it was badly warn at the threaded end. Almost gone!

So if I drained the tank down (Im sure some water would remain in the very bottom and possibly rust the tank out? Anode Rod would not be fully submerged?

Or leave it full of water and let the anode rod do its thing?

How to best store the water tank between trips?
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Old 05-29-2023, 06:00 PM   #2
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Drain for no pain

I drain my HW tank after every excursion. I then insert a thin strip of old towel, with a dowel, to wick out the water, leaving some of the towel draped outside of the WH for dripping.

I've done that for years. Things change. Recently, in storage, I left it that way and some micro sized ants set up house in the tank. I flushed them out, several times, and covered the WH fitting with a plastic threaded cap.
Live and learn.

Deposits from the anode do accumulate, and can be flushed out with a wand or vacuumed out with appropriate vacuum fittings.

The tank is apparently glass lined, and shouldn't corrode if wet. Dry it as best you can, but it is not crucial to do so.
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Old 05-29-2023, 06:05 PM   #3
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Good to know, thank you!
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Old 05-29-2023, 07:36 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Suregrip391 View Post
Or leave it full of water and let the anode rod do its thing?
In my opinion you are better off leaving the water in the tank and letting the anode rod do it's thing. That's what I do, but, from the other reply that's not what everyone does.

I do know that people who have left the anode rod out after winterizing have had problems getting it rethreaded in the spring due to rust on threads.
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Old 05-29-2023, 08:04 PM   #5
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The key question is how long does 3/4" of water take to evaporate in your environment? In NM, less than a day. So if you drain your HW heater and the residual water evaporates, there is no water to support corrosion. The corrosion is caused by oxygen dissolved in the water that reduces while the iron (i.e., steel) water heater oxidizes (i.e., rust!). The ceramic lining in the HW heater reduces the corrosion assuming the ceramic lining barrier is not broken. The sacrificial anode's job is to oxidize rather than the steel tank. If the ceramic lining has cracks, all bets are off.

So assuming you can get the tank dry, I would drain it. The alternative is to assume the anode will last and adequately protect the tank until you replace the anode again, and the ceramic lining has integrity.

YMMV
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Old 05-29-2023, 08:34 PM   #6
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Not that this is the “correct” answer, but I find it interesting in all the winterizing videos I’ve watched (and I’ve watched a few) when they get to winterizing the hot water tank it’s always the same, “bypass the tank, depressurize the tank, remove the anode rod to drain the tank, and dry out the tank as much as possible, etc). They never say, “if you happened to leave water in the tank from your last camping trip…..”.

Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t drain the hot water tank after every tip. I’m saying this is the first time I’ve ever seen that discussed, so I’ve never been worried about doing it. Interesting question.
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Old 05-29-2023, 09:38 PM   #7
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Drain early, drain often

I have no evidence to support my beliefs, but I drain the tank when I'm at the dump station on the way home or done camping, and I imagine that some residual water gets sloshed out on the way home, with the anode opening left open. As a previous post indicates, if you don't have a component of corrosion present (water) you won't have much, if any. The difficulty of reinserting the anode or WH plug is more the angle and weight of the anode and alignment of the threads. I've not experienced corrosion on the threads that have prevented reinsertion.

If you're using your rig again, soon after, no need to mess with all this. If it's in storage for weeks, I do.
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Old 05-29-2023, 11:23 PM   #8
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Whatever you decide, just remember to relieve the pressure before unscrewing the anode rod. Many years ago I forgot one time, and it took quite a while to find the rod across the yard. Glad I wasn't standing right in front of it when it let loose!
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