Is my water heater DYING?

I notice a lot of white particles in my hot water, clogging filters etc. Apparently, this is sediment from the heater. I will attempt to drain it tonight. My question is, generally speaking, are those white particles evidence that my heater nearing the end of its life or not?
i
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Ignoramus8790 wrote:

See if they dissolve in mild acid. If not, they are from the dip tube.
If it's an electric heater, sediment at the bottom has no effect on performance.
On a gas heater, sediment will reduce effic somewhat and will shorten life. But....over the years that sediment turns back to stone and you can't simply drain it out.
Jim
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like vinegar?

It is a gas heater. What I am concerned with, is that this is not sediment, but crust that accumulater on the heat exchanger, which is now falling out due to excessive heating of that heat exchanger due to thermal insulating properties of the crust. (crust prevents transfer of heat to water, hence the pipes are hot, hence they would burn out soon). Just a speculation.
i
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Ignoramus8790 wrote:

Yes, you can use strong vinegar to test.
Gas heaters don't have the kind of "heat exchanger" you're picturing. The bottom of the tank transfers most of the heat to the water directly from the flames. The hot flue gases transfer some more via the central tube/flue running thru the heater to the chimney.
The heater may fail along the bottom (typical life is 10 years), although failures in other parts are as common.
Jim
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thanks
I see.

Well, a failure (rupture)of the heater suonds like a very bad thing. Would preventative replacement of the heater be a good idea? Is there any way to find out if the heater is about to rupture?
thanks
i
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Ignoramus8790 wrote:

<SNIP>
Nope! Watch for small leaks though. If the thing is approaching 10 yrs age, start putting money in the piggy-bank...
Jim
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A definite possibility, especially if you don't seem to be getting as much hot water as before.
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About the same amount as before, if I unclog the filters at the taps. What is a dip tube?
The flakes do not dissolve in vinegar, not easily at least.
i
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There was a period of time that hot water heater manufacturers were using an "inferior composition" dip tube. There may have been a class action suit over this. Google for " dip tube replacement".
Dip tube is the plastic inlet tube inside the water heater that carries the cold water to the bottom of the tank. The permature failure of the dip tube would result in small plastic particles in the hot water lines.
HTH.
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This makes a lot of sense with me. I am at work right now, but those particles float in water and calcium carbonate does not float.
I will try applying heat to these particles to see if they melt or burn or char. If so, I will know it is plastic and not sediment.
i
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