Replacing a Water Heater Anode Rod

water heater anode rod corrodedA shinny new water heater will come with built in protection that prevents the water heater from rusting, this magical device is called an anode rod. The steel liner inside a water heater is coated with enamel to slow the corrosion down but the real protection is a sacrificial magnesium anode rod which will rust first and there by protect the rest of your tank. There is a whole bunch of fancy science involved but that's the gist of it.

The anode rod normally will last about 4-6 years before it becomes totally dissolved (corroded), this means that around the 5 year mark would be the ideal time to replace it.

Tools and materials you might need

  • Large wrench
  • Teflon tape or pipe dope
  • Hose
  • Bucket

Replacing the anode rod

  • Source a new anode rod for the model of water heater you have. Write down the information off the spec plate, such as: manufacturer, capacity, voltage, model number and take this to the nearest plumbing supply store. They may need to order one.
  • If you have a new one, shut off the power to the tank and shut off the water supply to it.
  • Drain some water from the sediment faucet at the bottom to relieve the pressure. *HOT*
  • Using a large wrench remove the hexagon bolt that is slightly raised on top of the tank. This is your anode rod, be careful pulling it out as pieces may fall off.
  • Wrap teflon tape around the threads of the new anode rod and replace it. Tighten securely and test for leaks by turning the water supply back on slowly. You may have trapped air in the tank that can be relieved by lifting up on the pressure relieve valves lever.
  • Turn the power back on. Done.