Friday, September 5, 2014

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

When I started this blog I promised to post about maintenance. Maintenance, repair, and upgrades are the very essence of cruising as much as peaceful anchorage and beautiful beaches. Still I never realized that even the hot water heater needs routine service.

Hot water heater with zinc removed.  Old zinc is on the right. Replacement on left.

I had overheated the engine during the disastrous Spring in the Bahamas.  The pressure relief valve had popped and emptied the hot water into the bilge.  The pressure relief valve is on the upper right in the picture.  These valves do not reset and have to be replaced whenever overheated.  While on the Raritan website I notice something about a zinc.  What zinc??  I did not even know it had a zinc!  I ordered one with the new valve for about $70 each.

The zinc is huge--larger than the zinc on the shaft or on the keel cooler of the refrigerator.  It is part of the hot water discharge nipple and goes in the hole in the upper part of the heater.  When I removed the zinc I was horrified to see that it was gone.(see picture) This water heater was new in 2007. The replacement was quite easy when the heater was out of the boat.  I was careful to use a lot of plumbers tape.

Earlier Jan had flushed out the chamber of a hose and some vinegar. Copious calcium build up and debris poured out. This ruins the electrical coils.

There is no luxury quite like a quick hot, fresh water rinse after a hard day of sailing or maybe an icy dunk in cold water.  So I am hoping the hot water heater will last a few more years with regular care.