How to Replace a Sacrificial Anode Rod In a Water Heater?

The proper functioning of your water heater requires routine inspections and maintenance. You will also occasionally need repairs or replacement of the heater parts. One of the components that are often overlooked by homeowners during heater inspection is the anode rod. Also known as a sacrificial rod, this is a metal rod that is typically located at the top of the water tank.

You will need to replace the anode rod at regular intervals to make sure your water heater keeps working properly. Here is a look at what an anode rod is, when should replace it and how to replace it.

What is an Anode Rod?

An anode rod is a rod that is made of steel and coated with magnesium, aluminum, or zinc. The rod itself is screwed into the water tank of the heater and directly exposed to the water. Its purpose is to prevent corrosion to the rest of the water tank. The anode rod achieves this by instead incurring corrosion itself, which is why it is known as a sacrificial rod.

The corrosive elements in the water are drawn to the rod and spare the walls and other areas of the water tank. As a result, the rod corrodes gradually whereas the water tank itself remains safe from any notable damage.

When and Why Should You Replace An Anode Rod?

As noted above, the anode rod gradually corrodes to keep the water tank safe. A time comes when it has become so corroded that it can no longer serve its purpose effectively. That is when the rod needs to be replaced.

On average, the sacrificial rod of your water heater requires replacement every two to three years. But this period can be smaller or larger depending on the composition of the water and a number of other factors. This is why you should check the rod at regular intervals to see if it has deteriorated too much.

You can check out the anode rod by removing the rod from the heater and inspecting it. It is highly recommended that you do it very carefully and only if you know how to remove the rod. If not, it is best to have a professional do a quick check for you. Alternatively, you can go with our brief guide provided below to remove and replace the rod.

How to Replace the Sacrificial Anode Rod?

If you want to remove and replace the anode rod of your water heater, here’s how to go about it.

  • First, turn off the water heater. If the heater runs on electric power, cut off the power. If the heater is gas-powered, turn off the pilot light and make sure that it doesn’t reignite.
  • Cut off the water supply to the heater and then drain it fully. You may need to use a drain and a hose to do so.
  • Get a socket wrench to unscrew the anode rod.
  • If the rod is too stubbornly screwed, you may need to use a heavy-duty electric wrench.
  • Try to avoid using oil or other lubricants when unscrewing the rod. These materials can contaminate the interior of the water heater and it can be incredibly hard to clean them later.
  • Carefully lift the rod after unscrewing it and remove it from the water heater. You must make sure that the rod or the interior of the tank do not incur damage during the process.
  • Once the rod is removed, inspect it thoroughly. If there is extensive corrosion, damage, or a reduction in the overall size of the rod, you should replace it.
  • When replacing, simply screw on the new rod in the place of the old one.
  • Once the new rod is in place, restore the water supply to the heater. Then reconnect the electric or gas supply as well.

You can alternatively judge from various telltale signs that your anode rod is damaged. Such signs include faucet clogging, loud noises coming from the heater, the smell in the water from the heater, and an unexpected increase in your heating bills.


Hiring a Greenville Heating and Air Expert

If you are looking for the inspection, maintenance or repairs of your water heater, we have got you covered. Here at General Air, we offer a comprehensive range of HVAC services for Greenville homeowners and businesses. Whether you want to have the anode rod inspected and replaced, or any other aspect of your heater looked into, reach out to us. Call us today to hire our services or consult our experts.

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