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Anode rod tailings


oletimer

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We have a 2017 5th (6 months old), and while getting back to Kansas the last of April after being on the road all winter, the filter in the stool plugged up after 1 flush! We had spent the night in a Colorado RV Resort that was just opening up after the winter season, and even though I flushed the hookup, and have a filter on the inlet hose, I thought it must have somehow came from their water. I drained and flushed our fresh water tank ( I never added water in Colorado) wanting to make sure it didn't somehow come from our tank, and it has now happened 2 more times. It seems to happen after we set for a while, then when we get to a new location, 1 flush=plugged strainer in stool. :wub: It has to be from the anode rod! I checked the rod, and it is at about 50%, but the grit in the stool strainer is anode rod "tailings". This last time there we pieces the size of a large BB. A piece that large wouldn't go through the pump, plus the filter on the pump intake is clean, so it has to be coming from the hot water tank. How? I'm kinda' nuts I know, :ph34r: but I don't use hot water to flush the stool. I don't think the hot water gets overly hot causing back pressure but even if it did, would it be just on the hot side. I hate to put a check valve on the tank, but years ago I had to do that in using a SurFlo/Smart Sensor pump, because of back pressure when the water got too hot. This happens before we turn on the heater, and we don't travel with the pump on. I guess I could just remove the anode rod, and plug the tank, but I don't want contaminated water in my system. Any thoughts?

 

As always thanks, Dick T

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Shouldn't be from your anode rod unless your toilet uses hot water. I also had this happen after about 6 months of ownership and happened 3 times. Looked like calcium deposits but may have been plastic residue from drilling holes. I have had no other problems since. I also run a whole house filter and do not hook up a hose without it connected.

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Shouldn't be from your anode rod unless your toilet uses hot water.

With the only anode I am aware of being in the water heater (but not then if your water heater is from Atwood) I can't imagine how it could get into the cold water side of things.

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If you have lost 50% of your anode in six months I would suspect that you have very bad water. I have gone as long as as two years with less then that amount of loss. Your problem could be left over material from construction of the coach or it could be from the water. There is almost no way that pieces of anode could be getting into your cold water and making it to the toilet. Usually the anode is sacrificed in more of a washing action then breaking up into small pieces. Yes small pieces can fall off but this is not the usual way. Imagine dipping it in acid type of action.

I would follow the advise of clearing your lines then if that does not work look at your water. Perhaps it is extremely hard and you are seeing lime or scale instead of anode

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Thanks for the comments.

 

I do have an idea how the anode material is getting into my cold fresh water, but I guess I was looking for conformation because, like I have posted on the forum before, I am old, slow, and dumb. But, this is our fifth new 5th over the years, and we have had material from the build in most all of them at one time or another. This is not the case here though, and I'm sure it is anode. I know we get bad water as we are "desert rats" and take whatever water we can get, so I have to replace the rod every year. At one time we were lease holders at The Ranch SKP park, and the water there came out in chunks(just kidding) but is was very hard, so we used a softener. They have corrected that now, and it is a great park.

Let me run this by you, and ask: Could it be that the hot water tank is acting like an accumulator tank, because every time this has happened it has been the first water used after being hooked up? Like I said, some of these chunks would NOT go through the pump, and my wife seldom asks me to stop for a bathroom break. Sooo, when we stop, the first water used is to the bathroom. The stool is a quick, high volume user, and I have wondered if the pressure in the hot water tank would be enough to supply water/anode in the lines before the pump kicks on? In other words just like an accumulator tank! What do you think, am I nuts? Before answering, BE KIND..

Thanks again for the comments. Dick T

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An accumulator does not hold extra water pressure. It has an airbag in it which you inflate. That air pressure helps maintain pressure on the water system, thus eliminating the need for the water pump to cycle as often. However, the water pressure is equalized throughout the system. The water heater does indeed have an air chamber in the top of the tank which absorbs the water expansion when heating. So, it does act like an accumulator.

 

There's no reasonable way for the toilet to receive water from the water heater. Cold water goes into the water heater, then leaves the water heater to be distributed to the various points which use hot water. The toilet is not one of those points. There is a check valve on the cold water inlet to the water heater which prevents water from backing up into the cold water distribution system from the water heater. That valve can go bad. If that valve does go bad, then theoretically water could back out of the water heater during the heating process when the pressure rises slightly in the water heater.

 

The release of that pressure produced during the heating process is instantaneous. If the check valve is defective, that instantaneous burst could possibly pass some water from the water heater to the cold water lines. Thus, any crud in the water heater could possibly pass to the cold water distribution side.

 

I would question how you know what anode residue looks like. As already pointed out, the sacrifice of the anode is done in a washing motion. It doesn't break apart in chunks. It's more of a dissolving action. I've had several anodes deteriorate and in flushing out the water heater have never seen residue which I would attribute to anode. I usually wash out lot's of mineral deposit, mostly lime and calcium.

 

I'm not saying you're wrong, just that it is unlikely. I think you just have mineral deposits in your water system and a good periodic flushing will go a long way toward eliminating your problem.

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A water softener might help. I used a MARK 8000 that sells for $182 with free shipping. The water in AZ where we spent part or all of 9 winters was very hard. At least 50 grains per gallon. 50 grains per gallon is as high as my test strips go so it could be more.

Scale built up on the plumbing and aerators/filters on all of the faucets and when it got too thick would flake off or just clog the faucets.

After I got the softener it took two winters for all of the scale to break loose and stop clogging things.

The Mark 8000 is an 8000 grain unit and in AZ we had to recharge it every 10 days (uses a box of table salt). In CO where we have 20 grains per gallon hardness, we recharged every 30 days or so. More grains would be better but I had limited space available so I went with the 8000 GPG unit. I believe 10,000 and 16000 GPG RV units are available now.

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Again, thanks for the comments, and I hope none of you think I'm trying to be smart, because I know I'm not too bright, but here's the deal.

This RV is 6 months old, and the first time this happened, it was 4 months old. We have traveled basically the same every winter for the last 20 years. Our last 5th was 14 years old and still had the original hot water tank. In the past, we did have calcium and lime build up, but most of the time at faucets, and our shower head, which has very small outlet holes because we mostly dry camp. Even then, the build up was gradual. This stool never shows reduced pressure, but goes from a good full flush, then NO water what so ever. I have flushed the fresh water tank, and lines after the first episode, and found no evidence of lime, calcium, or any shavings. In my other life I had a Farm&Home business, and sold sprayer parts, and pumps. I custom applied fertilizer, and chemicals, so I had more than my share of plugged lines, and tips. Also, just about the time I thought I had things figured out, it seemed The Lord had a way to show me what MORON I am. I think this must be one of those times.

 

Thanks Bill B, but I have no outside shower, I use a solar shower when dry camping.

 

Thanks chirakawa, You are right I have no idea what anode looks like, but this is the same kind of "stuff" I get when I flush my tank and replace the anode rod. Could be lime and/or calcium, but it looks the same as what is left of the (sacrificial) anode rod. Also, chunks are so large they would not pass through the pump even if they somehow made

it past the inline filter between the fresh water tank and the pump. I will check the backflow valve at the tank, I didn't know they had one, maybe bad???

 

Thanks Clay L, I carried a softener when we were lease holders at The Ranch, but I guess I'm too lazy now. I do use two whole house filters on my supply hose though.

 

In thinking back, there were times I didn't replace the anode rod for 2-3 years, and all that was left was the plug, and stem. If I could do that and still get 14+ years out of my hot water tank, maybe that would solve this issue

Dick T

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If you have lost 50% of your anode in six months I would suspect that you have very bad water.

It is all a matter of water chemistry. When we spent the summer in the Black Hills we lost about half an anode in 4 months. But we have also been where there was almost no degradation of an anode. In both cases we drank the water and had no difficulties from it and no significant taste.

This RV is 6 months old, and the first time this happened, it was 4 months old. We have traveled basically the same every winter for the last 20 years.

While I still have difficulty believing that the matter is coming from the anode, it is difficult to prove that it didn't, unless you were to bypass the water heater and run without it for a few months. I would be interested to hear what your resolution is when you find one.

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Kirk,

That is almost exactly what I plan on doing. I think I will remove the anode rod, replace it with a plug, fill the fresh water tank with some of the "nasty water" we have used over the years, and see what happens!! You think that is rocket science our what? We will get along OK as we have a port-a-pot, and a solar shower. Then if the stool doesn't plug, I STILL will not know a thing!! Might be a while though, as we are at the S&B farm in Kansas killing thistle, black berry, building fence, fighting chiggers, seed ticks, and mites. Ain't this life grand!!

 

Dick T

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Then if the stool doesn't plug, I STILL will not know a thing!!

Ahh, but if it does plug you will know one more thing that it isn't! If it don't plug you never know but what it may just never happen again, even with an anode in place. Having made a career in the electrical/mechanical repair field, I can tell you that sometimes after many hours of trouble shooting with no success, a problem will disappear and never return. Some techs call that magic, some voodoo, and others divine intervention, but I just hoped that the problem never came back!

 

If it were me, I'd just use the bypass for winterizing and drain the water heater. If you have a Suburban and run without the anode you could be creating new problems. Running the "nasty water" through your water heater without the anode could do serious damage to the tank, but if you do that, use one of the PVC plugs to be sure that the treads of the plug don't seize up.

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  • 3 weeks later...

We are still at the S&B farm in Kansas, but getting geared up to leave for the winter. I did remove the anode rod from the heater, but don't feel comfortable doing that, so will replace with a new one. Susan, the TOP DOG, says I'm just "like a dog with a bone", and she might be right (sometimes), because the more I have thought about this problem, the more I am sure the fresh water system is being contaminated from the hot water tank. In an earlier post here it was mentioned it could not happen, because of the check valve at/in the hot water tank, and I said I was unaware there was one. I know years ago I had to install a check valve in our Teton, because the back flow from the hot water tank was causing problems with the "Smart Sensor" water pump I had installed. Well, this old dog was reading the Suburban manual today, and it says, "Suburban recommends that a check valve NOT be installed directly at the inlet to the water heater tank", as this will cause weeping of the pressure relief valve. BINGO! Now, do I install one away from the tank, because I'm now almost sure the plug, what ever it is, lime, anode tailings, or junk, is coming from the tank? Would it help to install the check valve just 3-4' from the tank, or would that be far enough to allow for the expansion? We have, over the years, begin to turn the tank off until we need hot water, but not always. Wha'dya think?

 

As always, Thanks, Dick T

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If you have a winterizing set-up in your rig, you may already have a check valve installed in the outlet side of the water heater. Really, the only way you can get residue from the water heater into the toilet, is if the toilet is connected to a hot water line. I change our anode rod annually, and rinse out the white stuff from the tank each time, and we have never gotten any of the white stuff in our toilet or even in any water faucet, hot or cold side. I don't have a clue what is the source of your problem, but there obviously has to be something breaking down causing it. Good luck.

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Anode rod is to sacrifice from electrolysis in the system, not bad water. Like the anode zincs on a boat shaft, it is for the slight electrical current a bad ground etc will cause so it doesn't eat up more important parts. I would not remove it completely. Another note-do not put Teflon tape on the threads, it will negate that electrical connection to the tank.

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If you have a winterizing set-up in your rig, you may already have a check valve installed in the outlet side of the water heater. Really, the only way you can get residue from the water heater into the toilet, is if the toilet is connected to a hot water line. I change our anode rod annually, and rinse out the white stuff from the tank each time, and we have never gotten any of the white stuff in our toilet or even in any water faucet, hot or cold side. I don't have a clue what is the source of your problem, but there obviously has to be something breaking down causing it. Good luck.

 

Thanks 57becky, but,

I wonder if I'm crazy??

No, the stool is not hooked up to the hot water side, and I do have a winterizing set-up, without a check valve though, unless you are talking about manually turning the valves. My thinking here is this. Each time this has happened, it was right after unhooking from utility water pressure @100# PSI(+/-). If I remember correctly, the RV water pump kicks on at about 50-60# PSI, so I think the hot water tank is therefor, an accumulator tank, and it seems the first water used by the DW, after traveling, is for the stool.

So, again I ask, am I nuts/crazy, or not??? Dick T

Anode rod is to sacrifice from electrolysis in the system, not bad water. Like the anode zincs on a boat shaft, it is for the slight electrical current a bad ground etc will cause so it doesn't eat up more important parts. I would not remove it completely. Another note-do not put Teflon tape on the threads, it will negate that electrical connection to the tank.

Thanks Ron,

 

It looks like I have shot myself in the foot for 25+ years, because I have always used Teflon tape on the threads!! Not anymore, I guess. So, is pipe joint compound the thing to use?? BTW, I just got the glove compartment door installed yesterday!! I've said many times before, I'm old, SLOW, and dumb.

Dick T

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Our last 5er was new, the water tank had opaque plastic shavings in it from construction, which clogged aerator screens in about the same time spans as you state. I bought a Shurflow filter/screen that installs on the output side of the pump. That caught all the "stuff", but plugged up in a few months, took apart and cleaned. No further issue.

If you are not using a pressure regulator on your water hose, that 100psi will eventually blow a connection apart in your RV. Set the regulator to water pressure specified in your owners manual.

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Don't know how these rumors get started, but Teflon tape or any other thread sealant will not keep an anode insulated, and then not working. The Suburban manual specifically states that a sealant must be used. This is copied from page 5 of the Suburban manual:

 

To prevent a water leak when replacing the anode rod, a pipe thread sealant
approved for potable water (such as Teflon Tape) must be applied to the threads
of the anode rod. Proper application of a thread sealant will not interfere with the
anode’s tank protection.

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  • 2 weeks later...

How could I forget???

We had to take the 5th back to the factory this week for some adjustments. I had removed the anode rod, and re-flushed the hot water tank, but not the lines in the trailer after the pump. It was a hurry-up trip as they called and said they "could get the 5th in tomorrow", only about 150 miles from our S&B, so we hooked up and took off. I was going to tell Susan not to flush before I cleared the lines in the trailer, but I FORGOT! Can you believe that? One flush later, the stool strainer was plugged.

While they were working on our entry door, I removed the stool valve/strainer, and showed it to them, and got this response. "That's from your anode rod". Oh really?

We installed a check valve on the line to the hot water tank, and now I will install a new rod, so I will know for sure if I'm nuts or not!! Well, maybe not know if I'm nuts, but will know if I'm correct about this one thing anyway. Will let you know. I wish I hadn't destroyed my 50% rod, because it might take another 4 months before the new one to produce "tailings". Might be a while before I re-post. Thanks to all who commented. Dick T

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Don't know how these rumors get started, but Teflon tape or any other thread sealant will not keep an anode insulated, and then not working. The Suburban manual specifically states that a sealant must be used. This is copied from page 5 of the Suburban manual:

 

To prevent a water leak when replacing the anode rod, a pipe thread sealant

approved for potable water (such as Teflon Tape) must be applied to the threads

of the anode rod. Proper application of a thread sealant will not interfere with the

anodes tank protection.

Thank you for legit info not internet BS. I have used teflon tape on water connections for years. One thing i have noticed when removing such fittings is that the tape is most often cut by the threads which allows contact between the male and female threads, and I like it that the male and female threads meet.

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How could I forget???

We had to take the 5th back to the factory this week for some adjustments. I had removed the anode rod, and re-flushed the hot water tank, but not the lines in the trailer after the pump. It was a hurry-up trip as they called and said they "could get the 5th in tomorrow", only about 150 miles from our S&B, so we hooked up and took off. I was going to tell Susan not to flush before I cleared the lines in the trailer, but I FORGOT! Can you believe that? One flush later, the stool strainer was plugged.

While they were working on our entry door, I removed the stool valve/strainer, and showed it to them, and got this response. "That's from your anode rod". Oh really?

We installed a check valve on the line to the hot water tank, and now I will install a new rod, so I will know for sure if I'm nuts or not!! Well, maybe not know if I'm nuts, but will know if I'm correct about this one thing anyway. Will let you know. I wish I hadn't destroyed my 50% rod, because it might take another 4 months before the new one to produce "tailings". Might be a while before I re-post. Thanks to all who commented. Dick T

 

Next time you remove the strainer, how about taking a picture of what you find. I'd like to see what you're talking about. Thanks.

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