OK, just an update if anyone is interested.
The pressure relief valve was shot. The hot water heater sounded very bad and was loud. So, my wife and I agreed to purchase a new one. I removed the old unit, and noticed that the pressure relief valve was removed from the side and placed on top of the hot water 'out'. This made it closer to the pressure relief drain out of the house, but it didnt seem right. Both hot water heaters have warnings about removing the pressure relief valve and placing it some where else...
Also, The water main into the hot water heater had issues at the stop valve. It wouldnt seat all the way, and it would leak when full open.
I removed the old unit, shut of the main to the house, and replaced the stop valve line into the unit. Turned the house water back on, no issues.
Then onto the installing the unit.
The pressure relief pipe was on the opposite side of the pressure relief valve, so I hade to run copper pipe from the wall, around the unit, and then up to the hot water heater. I braced the new pipe on the wall with a 2x4 and copper straps for added earthquake protection (I Hope).
Fired her up, and she runs great...whisper quiet, and great hot water.
Thank you gain for all of your assistance.