Maintenance that can help extend a water heater’s life includes draining the tank and replacing the anode rod. The tank should be drained annually, and the anode should be changed as needed.
Sediment and minerals in the tank can cause the water heater to operate inefficiently and shorten its life. To remove any build up, several gallons can be drained a couple of times a year, or the whole tank can be drained. After shutting off the gas on a gas heater, or removing power from an electric model, a hose can be attached to the drain valve. The water inlet valve should be shut off and the drain valve opened to allow the water to drain.
Water should be allowed to run until it is clear or the tank is empty. After removing the hose and closing the drain valve, the water inlet valve can be opened and the power or gas turned back on.
Every three years, the anode rod should be checked. The anode rod is usually made from magnesium or an aluminum alloy, and it is designed to attract water impurities to itself, saving the tank from corrosion. A magnesium anode provides better protection, but it needs to be replaced more often. Replacing the anode before it is too corroded to work can significantly extend the life of a water heater.