Find out why you shouldn't put any cleaning products inside your water heater. The right way to clean it is to flush it.
LESLIE: Terry in Oregon has a water-heater  question. How can we help you today?
TERRY: Well, I was wondering what you put in a water heater to dissolve the calcium buildup, to clean it with. And I don’t know if you can use vinegar or do you need something special?
TOM: Well, I mean typically, you would not put anything inside of a water heater to clean it because that’s your domestic water that’s running through it 24-7. Now, why do you feel that the water heater needs cleaning, Terry?
TERRY: Well, because I haven’t flushed the water heater for a little while and you’re supposed to flush it every year and …
TOM: Well, you know, the only reason to really flush it is because the mineral salts can build up along the bottom and reduce its efficiency . But other than that – and I don’t think it’s a tremendous difference in efficiency. But other than that, I don’t really feel the need to it. Now, why don’t you just flush it? Why do you feel like you have to do something more than flush it?
TERRY: I wanted – I just want to make sure I get that – those calcium deposits out of there because I’ve had it ruin water heaters. I’ve got electric water heater so I know that it builds up on the elements.
TOM: Well and you can simply take those elements out if you’re concerned about that. But I don’t think the kind of maintenance you’re talking about is going to be all that necessary. You’re welcome to do it. You could turn off the water heater, turn off the power. You could drain the whole thing out; you could pull out the elements and check them if you want. But frankly, I don’t think it’s all that necessary and I don’t think it’s going to give you a big increase in efficiency  by doing that.
TERRY: Okie-dokie. Thank you.
TOM: You’re welcome, Terry. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.