Does rust solidify in a hot water tank?

So I go to drain my hot water tank at its one year anniversary and nothing comes out of the drain valve - well a little drip here and there maybe. I did all the right things I believe, turned off the cold water, opened up a hot water tap, hooked a garden hose to the drain valve (cheap plastic valve that I wouldn't trust for anything).
So I assume its clogged with rust, I have galvanized pipes for my cold water supply and I know they are at or near the point of failure and all the rust that comes with that (I have the blue PEX chilling in the office until I have a chance to start removing the galvanized). So I'm wondering does rust form a solid mass eventually or can it be loosened up enough to let the drain do its thing?
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I must have a vacuum lock or something similar going on. When I turned on the cold water tap a trickle of cold water came out of the drain valve, indicating that at least at some level there is sufficient room for water to come out. When I disconnected the garden hose there was a distinct sucking sound indicating vacuum. The manual for this heater says nothing about doing anything weird or strange. It does request I operate the pressure release valve for its own maintenance - but not in conjunction with the drain.
When I disconnected the hose and opened the valve on its own - the water heater made a gurgling noise then a little water dripped out then stopped.
I wonder if that pressure release valve needs to be kicked? Can't test it because I don't have a way to hook something to it. The moron who installed it put the right-angle fitting straight down, which means I'll never be able to screw an elbow or faucet to the valve because the clearance between the tank body and the valve is too tight. I have to replace the valve to do it - which means I have to drain the tank, but to do that I wonder if I have to release the pressure valve. It's sounding kinda circular here.
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I found at Lowe's some brass fittings with a garden hose thread on the end. I know that some were male pipe thread because I wanted those for a custom drain valve (I've got several failed tank drain valves that I'm going to replace with a dielectric nipple feeding a threaded ball valve feeding the garden hose connector whenever I can find some time when both the girlie and I are home and not working on anything more pressing) maybe they have some with a sweat connection that you could just sweat on the end of the T/P outlet pipe? Or just slip on some heater hose with a worm drive clamp?
nate
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com (Eigenvector) says...

I just took the air compressor and blew air back into the tank when mine did that. It took some flushing, but I eventually got quite a bit of sediment out of the tank. About 5 years later I had to replace the tank, so yours may be on its last legs.
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(Eigenvector) says...

I hope it's not on its last legs, it's only a year old!
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your rusty water lines are depositing rust in your hot water tank. its past time to replace all the steel lines. USE PEX, its cheap and easy, flexible really easy.
one day a galavanized line will break and flood your home, the time to act is now.
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On Sun, 3 Jun 2007 09:05:09 -0700, "Eigenvector"

Leave it alone.
Your next maintenance schedule is to replace the unit when it fails or becomes so inefficient that you can't get thru a hot shower.
That may be next week or 5 years from now, so just relax and forget the annual chore of draining the sediment.
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On Sun, 3 Jun 2007 09:05:09 -0700, "Eigenvector"

Rust is iron oxide and it's a solid. It's a good idea to flush the tank entirely once a year. Most folks just empty a couple gallons. The anode sacrificial pole should help preserve he tank.
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