I have a fifty gallon hot water heater. If things went bad, my family could survive on this water for a week if needed. What if things go bad but I still have power for the well and want to use the hot water heater for hot water? I could since it runs on propane and I have a large amount of propane stored. That's great as long as the hot water heater doesn't break down or rust through.
What's the easiest way to make sure that your hot water heater doesn't break down early? Drain it at least once a year. If you have lots of minerals that build up then drain it more often. It's not a hard process. All I need to do is turn off the water intake, turn down the heat to the lowest setting (I could turn it off but it's a pain to start back up), and open up the bottom valve. I attach a hose to the bottom valve and dump the water on the lawn, on ant hills, or anywhere that the hot water won't damage anything (except ant hills!). After I drain the water I close up the bottom valve. I turn the water intake water back on and fill up the tank part way. I then open up the bottom valve and drain the water again. Is it clear? If so then the tank is cleaned out. If a bunch of minerals are still coming out then you may need to repeat the steps.
Once you get clear water coming out the drain valve you can plug it up and fill it up. It will take a while for you to have hot water in the house again since it's all drained out. Doing this once a year can double or triple the life of your water heater. It's that easy. This water can also more easily be used if you need to retrieve water from the water heater to provide fresh water for the family.