Before you replace the anode rod in your water heater shut off the power to the water heater. If it’s electric turn off the power and if it’s gas then turn off the gas.
Turn off the cold water supply to your heater using the water intake valve.
You will either have a ball valve or a gate valve.
If you have ball valve the on position faces North and South while the off position will be East and West.
Consequently, if your hot water heater has a gate valve you will need to turn the handle clockwise to shut off the water.
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Tools you may need for the job
- Channel locks
- Crescent wrench
- Impact wrench (this may be needed to help loosen the anode rod)
- Ratchet with a 1 1/16 attachment and a breaker bar
- Teflon tape
- A new drain valve (optional) but for another $10 why not
- New anode rod (magnesium or aluminum depending on your water)
The Sacrificial Anode
Suspending the metal anode rod down your water heater helps prevent rust. The only purpose of the anode rod is to divert any corrosion that occurs inside of the water heater towards the rod and away from the tank’s walls.
Installing the Anode Rod
Before you drain the heater it’s a good idea to try and loosen the anode rod so the weight of the water in the tank holds the tank in place.
You should drain approximately 1/4 of the water from the tank by opening the drain valve. This can usually be done with a flat head screwdriver.
Be extremely careful because the water in the heater is very hot. Open a hot water faucet in your house (one that is closest to the tank as possible) to assist you in removing water from the tank.
After draining the necessary water close the valve.
You can now use a 1 1/16 socket to help unthread the old anode rod. Use needle nose pliers to help lift the rod out of the heater.
Prepare the new anode rod for water heater installation by applying some Teflon tape to the threads. Insert the new rod into the tank, thread and tighten.
Get it started with your fingers first before tightening it with the ratchet. Some anode rods you may have to cut down which you can cut with a saw.
Once you have the new anode rod installed you can now flush the tank of the old sediment in the tank.
Attach a water hose and run directly to a floor drain, bucket or sink. Open the cold water flow on the tank and begin flushing out the sediment and any pieces of the old anode rod. Flush until the water is clear.
Remove the old drain valve and install your new one. Once the drain valve is installed you are now able to fill the tank again.
Fill the tank slowly by turning the valve a quarter of the way on, if it’s a gate valve only about a turn and half to two turns as you’re bleeding the air through a hot faucet in the house.
Once the tank is completely full you can open the valve all the way.
Check your anode rod threads and your drain valve for any leaks and then you can restore power to your unit again.
Reasons To Change Your Anode Rod
- You want to extend the life of your hot water heater.
- You are smelling water that reminds you of rotten eggs.
- You are getting black water from your faucets.
- You have a water heater that is more than 5 years old.
- You hear loud popping noises while your water heater is warming up.