Replace Anode

How do I Replace an Anode Rod?

The premise

There are two conceivable situations in which you’ll need to replace an anode rod. In the first instance, you’ve followed our advice on checking in on an anode rod after the ensuing three years and are now investigating the preferable methods for embedding a new one (or however many your water heater requires). The other scenario is you’ve forgotten about the anode rod (or never knew of it) and now are looking into the expense of buying a new water heater.



The benefit of being attentive to the replacement of an anode rod is your warranty will cover the cost of a malfunction in the water heater if you’ve sustained an effective ‘sacrificial hygiene,’ so to speak. Although, generally, every three years is enough for a check, you shouldn’t hesitate if you’re anxious. If you see around six inches of wire are exposed, your sacrificial anode rod is in need of a replacement.


Consult an expert

The simple answer for this question is allowing an expert the responsibility of any replacement. In a jam, however, you may give it a whirl yourself. The first thing you should do is shut off the water flow into the water heater as well as whichever fuel source you’re using, namely electricity or gas. If you fail on this measure, you’ll burn out the pieces of the water heater responsible for the heating. Turn off the fuel.


Turn off the water

We’re getting nearer to removing the rod. Once you’ve shut off the fuel and water, close the cold water shutoff valve and turn on a hot water sink in the vicinity in order to achieve pressure equalization in the tank. Using the drain valve, remove several gallons of water from any pipes above the upper limit of the tank in order to rid the space of additional heated water. You can facilitate the draining with a garden hose.


Remove the anode rod

Next is removing the anode rod itself. Be sure you’ve got enough space between the upper limit of the heater and the ceiling for removing the anode rod, which is, itself, around three feet long. If you’ve got enough space, unscrew the rod a little bit. You’ll need a ratchet wrench and a 1 1/16-inch socket. You may need a pipe for leverage. You should be able to remove the anode rod now––either directly upward or with a slight incline.


Make sure you actually need a replacement

Before you throw out the anode rod and replace it with a new one, check on the existing one so we know this entire process is justified. If you’re short of space, you might consider an articulated/collapsible anode rod, which will make the removal and replacement a lot easier in a squeeze. You should expect an amount of corrosion and rusting already, assuming the anode rod is doing its job. Wrap the threads of the replacement anode rod with Plumber’s Tape.


Rewrap and replace with a new anode rod

You shouldn’t need more than five or six rounds of wrapping. Using the new anode rod, replace the void left by the old one. Tighten the rod with your wrench and socket. Reopen the cold water valve with the faucet from before adjusted for hot water. Once water begins to emerge from the spout, you’ll know the tank is full again. Make sure you haven’t missed any leaks and turn the fuel on again.

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