Changing the Anode rod every four years is a great way to extend the life of your water heater.
An anode rod is a special metal element that’s meant to slowly dissolve so that the tank itself doesn’t corrode.
When the anode rod is depleted, it no longer offers corrosion protection for the tank.
So it’s best to replace the rod before that happens. I’ll show you how to do it.
You can order an anode rod replacement for your water heater by directly from the hot water heater manufacturer.
- a replacement anode rod,
- a socket wrench,
- a 1 and 1/16 inch socket,
- a 24-inch cheater bar or pipe,
- a flat blade screwdriver,
- Teflon tape,
- a garden hose,
- and a hacksaw.
First, turn the power off to the water heater at the circuit breaker. For gas heaters, you should turn off the gas supply.
Close the shut-off valve at the cold water inlet line. Open a hot water faucet somewhere in the house that will relieve the system pressure inside the tank. Next, fasten a length of garden hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the heater. Run the other end of the hose to the nearest floor drain or outside the home.
Open the water heater's drain valve and drain approximately two gallons of water from the tank. Locate the anode rod position on the top of the tank. It will be underneath one of the plastic caps. On older models, the anode rod may be exposed. Remove the plastic cap to expose the anode rod.
If it’s not clearly visible down to the tank shell, take a flat blade screwdriver and carefully remove the insulation and expose the anode rod head.
Using a 1 and 1/16th-inch socket, remove the anode rod by turning it counterclockwise. Have a rag handy because there will be some seepage of water around the anode rod’s location. In most cases, you’ll need a cheater bar or length of pipe to apply enough leverage to break the initial seal on the anode rod. Lift the anode rod out of the tank, but be careful, the metal may be hot. It will probably show some signs of deterioration.
If it looks something like a half dissolved Alka seltzer, it’s been doing its job. Prepare the threads to the replacement anode rod with Teflon tape. Wrap six or more turns. Receipt the new anode rod and tighten thoroughly. If space above your water heater is tight, a flexible replacement anode rod makes the installation easier.
Next, turn on a hot water faucet somewhere in the house. Turn the cold water supply to the heater back on and let the tank fill.
After about a minute, turn off the hot water faucet, then check for leaks around the new anode rod. If there are no leaks, replace the plastic cap on top. Turn the power back on at the circuit breaker. For gas heaters, turn the gas supply back on. You may need to relight your pilot per the instructions in your use and care manual.
Check carefully for leaks at the anode rod threads and check again in 24 hours. Congratulations! You’ve just made an important repair that will greatly extend the life of your water heater.