Replaced a water heater this weekend and — as always — when replacing a water heater, we drain out the water heater during or before removal. As is common and customary, we found the tank to be full of crud and you can see the water running out red in this picture.
This particular water heater was over 15 years old. However, even in new heaters, water in the tank can become discolored. It’s a good idea to flush your tank out periodically as part of a good maintenance program, annually or even more frequently.
Corroded or deteriorating pipes can accelerate sediment build-up and then discoloration due to sludge and sediment in the hot water heater tank. For electric water heaters, sediment can actually build up on the heating element or electrode. Build-up on the electrode lowers efficiency of the water heater because essentially insulates the electrode instead of allowing it to directly heat the adjacent water. Additionally, this scenario will hasten the deterioration of the electrode.
While not directly related to sediment buildup, overheating can accelerate the deterioration of the porcelain or glass lining on the inside of a water heater tank.
In a future post, we are going to talk about sacrificial anodes and galvanic anode protection in more detail. (I just have to sift through all my photos and find the pictures I took of one of these.)