Updated: Mar 10, 2020
Hot water heaters can typically last 10-12 years. With some basic maintenance once or twice a year, you can make sure you get the most out of your appliance extending its life expectancy and maintain its efficiency.
Draining sediments from water heater tank:
Overtime during the water heating process, natural minerals like magnesium and calcium form into sediment particles that will settle at the bottom of the tank. These sediments will shorten the lifespan of the water heater, affect its efficiency, and eventually cause failure. You can sometimes notice sediment build-up if you ever hear a popping like sound or notice a diminished supply of hot water. Each water heater tank has an "anode rod" that protects your water heater from rusting but you should replace these anode rods every 3-5 years.
First cut off the power to your water heater and turn the cold water valve off. Place a bucket near the drain valve and connect a short hose from the valve into the bucket; or of course drain the water to another approved location. Slowly open the drain valve and drain the tank and all the sediments. It is recommended to drain at least 2-3 gallons once a year for proper efficiency but of coarse you want to continue to drain until you do not see anymore sediments.
Issues with sediment build up in tank:
Raises energy bills
Fluctuating water temperatures
Early failure / shorter lifespan of tank
Cause heating elements to burn out in electric water heaters
Testing your temperature pressure relief valve. This valve is located at the top or side of the tank. The TPRV is a safety device to release the excess pressure if the water heaters temperature or pressure reaches too high of limit. Without a properly functioning valve, the water heater itself is basically a bomb. Before testing, make sure it has the proper discharge pipe, that should be terminated no higher than 6 inches above the floor or draining to an approved location. You don't want to test it and the hot water pressure sprays you and possibly get scolded.
Place a bucket under the discharge pipe and lift the lever on the TPR valve. If hot water does not release when tested, then it is time to replace it. Replacing temperature pressure relief valves are very easy, you can pick them up at any hardware store such as #Lowes or #Homedepot www.homedepot.com www.lowes.com
At the water inlet and outlet connections, you should install dielectric unions. These dielectric unions are used to connect water pipes that are dissimilar metals to prevent electrolysis which will lead to corrosion and eventually pipe failure which will cause leaking and then further damage like you can see in the photo to the left. These connections have started to leak a little bit but are close to total failure.