Water Heater Anode Rod Replacement

Anode Rod Replacement – Double the Life of your water heater with a simple part!

In as little as 15 minutes, you can actually double the life of your water heater by changing out a $28 part – the anode rod. And best of all it’s an easy job that nearly anyone can do! We will take you step by step through the anode rod replacement process below!

What is an Anode Rod and why replace it?

An anode rod, sometimes referred to as a sacrificial rod, is a metal rod that is inserted into a water heater tank. It protects the tank from corrosion by attracting rust and other harmful particles in the water. It is typically made of a steel wire with a coating of magnesium, aluminum, or zinc. The anode rod acts as a sacrificial metal that corrodes faster than the tank and other metal parts around it, protecting them from damage. The anode rod should be checked and replaced periodically to ensure the longevity of the water heater. The anode rod is a metal rod that protects the tank from corrosion by attracting rust and other harmful particles in the water.

How often should I replace my Anode Rod?

If you want to extend the life of your water heater you should changing the water heater anode rod before it is worn out. The anode rod is usually made of magnesium, aluminum, or zinc, and it gradually wears out or erodes over time. By replacing the anode rod every 3 to 5 years, depending on your water quality, you can prevent the tank and other parts in the water heater from rusting and leaking. Since there are no moving parts in a water heater – rust and corrosion are the number one reason they eventually need replaced. It’s a good idea to you should check it at least once a year to monitor its condition. If it has been several years since it has been checked, your anode rod probably should be replaced.

By changing the water heater anode rod regularly, you can save money on energy bills and avoid potential water damage. The anode rod is a small but essential component of your water heater that ensures its optimal performance and longevity.

You should also routinely flush the tank to remove any sediment or debris, or scale from hard water that may have accumulated at the bottom of your water heater.

Can I change my own Anode Rod?

Changing the water heater anode rod is not a difficult task, and you can do it yourself with some basic tools and safety precautions. You will need to be able to turn off the water supply, locate the anode rod on the top of the tank or on the hot water outlet, and use a wrench to loosen it. Slide out the old anode rod and simply insert the new anode rod and tighten it securely. We will go over each step in more depth below!

What size socket for Anode Rod?

Most water heater Anode Rods use a 1-1/16″ (27mm) socket to remove. There are some exceptions though. Here is a great guide for finding which size socket your anode rod requires.

A good quality 6 point socket works best for Anode Rods that are heavily corroded or seized in place. See tips below for some additional information for removing especially stubborn anode rods. You can buy a high quality 1-1/16″ socket on Amazon here: https://amzn.to/48LWVdq

Replacing a Water Heater Anode Rod – Step-by-Step:

Step 1 – Turn off water heater and flush debris from tank.

Turn off the power and water supply to your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, turn off the gas valve and pilot light.

Attach a garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and run it to a floor drain or outside. Open the drain valve and let some water out of the tank to relieve the pressure. Tip: If there is a lot of debris or scale in the bottom of the tank, turning the water back on temporarily can help flush the debris out through the drain.

Step 2 – Removing the old Anode Rod.

Locate the anode rod on the top of the tank or on the hot water outlet. You may need to remove a plastic cap or unscrew a metal plug to access it. It will typically need a

Use a wrench or socket to loosen the anode rod and carefully pull it out of the tank. You may need to bend it slightly if there is not enough clearance above the tank. In extreme cases with a low ceiling space you may need to clip the old anode rod into sections with wire cutters to remove. Don’t worry – they sell segmented / anode rods specifically for replacing into water heaters with low overhead space!

Step 3 – Inspect & replace Anode Rod.

Inspect the anode rod for signs of corrosion. If it is mostly eaten away or covered with calcium deposits, it needs to be replaced.

Choose a new anode rod that matches the type and size of your old one. You can use magnesium, aluminum, or zinc/aluminum alloy rods depending on your water quality and preference. Magnesium rods are more effective but may cause hydrogen gas buildup in hard water. Aluminum rods are cheaper but may leave aluminum residue in the water. Zinc/aluminum alloy rods are less prone to odor problems but may not last as long as magnesium rods.

If you have low overhead space, choose an anode rod that has flexible segments to make installation a breeze! Here is the Amazon link to the one I used: https://amzn.to/49JIPdT.

Wrap some plumber’s tape around the threads of the new anode rod and insert it into the tank. Tighten it securely with a wrench or socket.

Step 4 – Turn on water & check for leaks.

Close the drain valve and turn the water supply back on to refill the hot water tank. Check for leaks around the anode rod and the drain valve.

Turn on the power to your water heater. If you have a gas water heater, follow the lighting instructions for your water heater.

That’s it! Take a break and celebrate that you likely just saved yourself an expensive water heater replacement.

Here are some additional questions you might run into:

How do I know what type of anode rod I have?

You can identify your anode rod by its color and shape. Magnesium rods are usually silver-gray and have a hexagonal head. Aluminum rods are usually dark gray or black and have a hexagonal or round head. Zinc/aluminum alloy rods are usually light gray or white and have a hexagonal head.

What if I have two anode rods in my tank?

Some water heaters have two anode rods for extra protection. You should replace both of them at the same time to ensure even wear and performance.

What if I can’t remove my anode rod?

If your anode rod is stuck or corroded, you may need to use some penetrating oil or heat to loosen it. You can also try using a breaker bar or impact wrench to apply more torque. If using a breaker bar or large ratchet, be careful not to twist the entire water heater in the process. This could damage the water lines or other connections to the water heater.

In many cases a cordless impact wrench will work best as is vibrates the connection which helps break up corrosion. Another advantage to the impact wrench is that it will not twist the entire water heater when it is removing a stubborn anode rod.

If you do not have an impact wrench and the water heater is beginning to twist on you, you can take a tie down ratchet strap and use it form a belt around the water heater near the top. Tension the ratchet strap just enough to firmly grip the tank, and then use the ratchet strap handle as your leverage point to pull the breaker bar. This will work like a strap-wrench and prevent the water heater from twisting.

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