I would like to know if there is a way to check a hot water heater to see if it needs replacing. Our hot water heater is 20 years old and I have been faithfully releasing the rusty water at the bottom twice a year. I was guaranteed this heater would last 20 years and my concern is I don't want the basement flooded again like 20 years ago. Also, what type of hot water heater would you recommend purchasing as my brother seems to have to replace his every 6 - 7 years.
The older hot water tanks have been known to last many years (20 or more years) but most new tanks will probably last 8 – 12 years with 15 years being the limit.
Unfortunately, there is no way to tell how long a tank will keep on working unless there are some obvious signs like rust marks on the tank. You are to be congratulated for draining an amount of water on a regular basis, most people don’t do this. For other people reading this however, draining water from the tank (until it runs clear) should be done from when it is first installed and then on a regular basis.
When purchasing a new hot water tank, look for models that carry an eight or ten year warranty. Sometimes, you are able to purchase an extended warranty for that extra piece of mind.
When you have your new tank installed, my advice is to have a diaper pan placed under the tank with a drain to the sewer pipe to prevent any flooding in the event your tank develops a leak.