Water Heater Maintenance - There are tons of reviews for water heaters and many mention the water heater only lasted a few years. Or the water heater has rusted or corroded, and the reviewer states the water heater is a piece of junk.
I would contend that if some people performed annual maintenance, these water heaters would last many more years. Maintenance is straightforward to perform, and for those who are not the do-it-yourself types, you can call your local plumbing service provider to take care of the maintenance for you.
Water Heater Maintenance - Sediment
I have had people ask me questions about peculiarities with their water heater, such as an intermittent popping noise in the tank or a rumbling sound. Many of these problems can be solved simply by draining the tank and refilling it with fresh water. You see, over time, your water heater will build up sediment in the bottom. The sediment build-up inside the tank is a result of heating and cooling inside the tank.
And when this happens, some of the sediments in the water are released and slowly over time cause problems. By turning the water heater off, whether it is gas or electric or other, and shutting the cold water supply off, you can drain the sediments from the water.
Water Heater Maintenance - The Water Heater Sacrificial Anode Rod
When you do this, it is a great time to check the sacrificial anode rod inside the water heater. In the typical water heater, the anode rod access is at the top of the heater. You will need a large adjustable wrench to unscrew the rod and pull it out for inspection. Make sure the water heater is off. Close the cold water supply, and if it is there, close, the hot water valve also.
By closing the hot water valve to the water heater, you will drain the water out of the hot water supply line going to the hot water faucets in the house. Some water heaters do not have a valve on the hot water supply going to the faucets.
In this case, make sure all the hot water faucets are securely closed to prevent the water from draining out of the hot water line. At the bottom of the water heater, there is a drain valve. Carefully drain open this drain valve. Make sure there is a safe place to drain the water heater.
You may need a water hose in some cases, depending on where the water heater is and if a drain is readily available near the water heater. Make sure the drain is lower than the water heater, especially if using a water hose.
Using an adjustable wrench carefully unscrew the anode rod and remove it. Inspect the rod. If it is severely pitted, replace the anode rod. Your local plumbing supply house should have replacement anode rods available.
Water Heater Maintenance | Conclusion
If you cannot find the anode rod or you can’t get it to loosen, then you will still need to drain the tank down. If this is the case, then you need to open up a hot water faucet. That will facilitate a flow so the water heater can drain completely. Before closing the valve after the water heater is drained, open the cold water valve to flush all the sediments from the tank completely. Finish draining the tank by thoroughly flushing it with the cold water valve.
Again, if you weren’t able to check the anode rod, you may want to give a plumber a call to have them check the anode rod. It is necessary to have a good anode rod in the tank to extend the life of the water heater.
A good video on replacing the water heaters anode rod | Water Heater Maintenance
Water Heater Maintenance: Solving Problems and Extending the Life of a Water Heater