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Replace anode rod/ prevent tank from rusting/ odor resolution

Anode rod with resistor
Hex-head Anode rod w/ resistor
Last longer than ordinary?
Buy .7 resistor anode
Resistor anode .9 diameter
Flexible resistorized .9 anode
Buy anodes
Read about resistorized on this page
Anode rod with resistor
Flexible hex-head anode
Not enough space above heater
Flexible resistorized anode
Flexible anode rods
Buy anodes
Read about flexible on this page
Anode rods
Buy solid hex-head anode
1-1/16" hex head
Zinc-Aluminum or magnesium
Buy Zinc for odor control
Buy anodes

Read more on this page
Read about controlling odor
Anode rod with resistor
Combo Anode rod
Connected to hot water nipple
Buy combo zinc-aluminum
Buy combo magnesium
Buy anodes
Read about combo on this page
replace anode rod
Anodes are standard 1-1/16"
Except combo anodes

Buy: bar for hex anode:
Breaker bars

Electric impact wrench
Buy: impact wrench for hex anode:
Electric impact wrenches
Air impact wrench
Use 1-1/2" for water heater elements and 1-1/16" for anode rods
1-1/16" impact sockets
Buy impact socket for hex anode:
1-1/16" impact deep socket Amazon
1-1/16" Tekton shallow socket
Universal joint for impact
Breaker bar
Adapter: 3/8: socket to 1/2" socket
1-1/2" impact for elements
Buy: for combo anode:
Spiral screw extractor
Knipex channel locks
Irwin pliers
Replace anode rod
Two different types of anode rods:
Illustration above shows anode located in separate anode port. Uses regular hex-head anode rod
Some anode rods are connected to hot water nipple See
Owner's manual can show anode location:  list of water heater manufacturers and brands to find manual.

How to replace anode rod:
Tank water must be cool or scalding water will spew out when anode is loosened.
1) Turn off gas or electric to heater, 2) Close water shutoff valve, 3) Open drain valve near bottom of tank, 4) Open bathtub tap to let air into water line, and drain 2 gallons of water What if tank won't drain?

Rod will be rusted in place, use impact wrench if needed. Wipe WD40 off anode opening before unscrewing rod so WD40 will not enter tank. Loosen rod slowly and check that water does not seep up because hot water can spew out hole. Some anode rods are too tight and cannot be removed.

Install new anode rod: Use 6 wraps teflon tape. Caution, tank metal and anode metal must meet, so rod will work. Test if anode is electrically connected to tank by testing continuity between anode head and pipe nipple. Current must be able to pass between steel tank and anode rod or anode will not work.
5) Remove, inspect and replace anode rod 6) Fill tank and Open TP to bleed last air before Turning on gas or electric power. 

Replace anode rod and extend life of water heater   

Life-expectancy of steel water heater tank depends on anode rod. Water softener shortens life of anode rod. (read more at bottom)

How anode works:
When two metals are connected, water reacts with lower noble metal first. Anode rod is made from lower noble metal than steel tank. Water dissolves anode rod instead of rusting water heater.

Once anode rod dissolves, water quickly rusts water heater.

Reasons to replace anode:
1) Odor: Harmless bacteria reacts with anode to cause rotten-egg smell.
2) Maintain water heater payback $5-10 per month: Replace anode rod when inspection shows exposed core is visible at top or bottom, or more than 6" of exposed core along length.
Rod that is covered with white calcium must be replaced.

When to inspect:
Water softener or acidic water <> inspect anode every 1-2 years
No softener <> inspect anode 3-5 years

Lifespan of tank:
Tank with dual anode rod lasts longer. For example, 6-year tanks have one rod. Generally, 12-year tanks have larger diameter rod or two anode rods.  Both rods are made of same metal to achieve longer life.
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is a self-help site

Holly Pope Haynes Loosen anode rod on 30 gallon gas water heater.
Larger image

Breaker bar

1-1/16" impact socket
Photo shows 3/4" pipe nipples and 2x4 holding water heater while anode is loosened

Anodes are standard 1-1/16"
Use impact wrench to remove anode rod.
Electric impact wrench is fine. If anode does not loosen, then it probably will not come out
Electric impact wrenches

Air impact wrench
1-1/16" impact socket
Breaker bar
Adapter from 3/8: socket to 1/2" socket
Electric impact wrench
Notes: Electric Impact wrench
Test if anode is connected correctly to tank by testing continuity between anode head and pipe nipple. Continuity test should show current.
Broken anode rod that falls into tank will not protect the tank since it does not have electrical continuity to tank.
Notes: Test continuity

Read about dip tubes
See parts list for this model

anode rod
Insert 5/8" carriage bolt into nipple so it will not collapse when removed with pipe wrench.

Larger image Tabletop water heater
Anode rod location
If tank has 2 anode rods, one will be located in the anode-rod port and have hex head as shown above, and other will be attached to hot water outlet, or in second port.

Some tanks do not have anode-port and have factory-installed anode rod on hot nipple. This is called combo anode. Check manual for parts diagram.

Two anode rods: Tanks with longer warranty have thicker anode or 2 anode rods. With 2 anodes, one or more anodes will be in separate anode-ports, or one anode in anode port and other anode on hot water nipple. For odor problems, both anodes must be identified and replaced.

Adding second anode rod can prolong life of water heater. If tank has anode in anode-port, then add combo anode rod in hot port. Not all tanks can have combo anode added.
If tank does not have the anode-port, then move TP valve to side port if available -or-  move cold water inlet to drain valve, and add 2nd anode to cold water port if cold nipple is removable.

Tank odor is caused by harmless bacteria reacting with anode rod. (read more below)
Adding two anode rods may worsen odor problems
Sulfur-Smell in water heater .pdf
Read about controlling odor
Many water heaters today come with factory-supplied heat-trap nipples, inserts, and rubber washers.
These things are supplied so manufacturer can claim higher efficiency.
Down-side is these can constrict water flow and are location for clogs and noise.
Make your own heat traps instead. Read: Low water pressure
Notes about heat traps:
Heat traps installed in hot and cold inlet ports can clog, and whistle and make noise
Power vent
Power vent might cover anode rod

Check product manual
Remove power vent to access anode.
If unit has power vent, you also might be able to install a combo anode to replace hot water nipple.

Note: If water heater has odor problem, then old anode must be removed before installing new anode.

Note: Power vent will probably interfere with installation of power anode rod... read more below
Using impact wrench to remove anode rod works
1-1/16" impact drive
Use WD40, but wipe away excess WD40 when anode is loose so oil will not drip into water.
Wrenching water heater will not break anode port unless tank is rusted away.
Sometimes the anode will not come out


Buy anode rods

RV anode rods
Ariston 'under-counter' anode rod
Magnesium anode rod
Camco generic anode rods
Bradford White anodes
Reliance anode rod
Rheem anode rods
Teflon tape
Zinc anode rod
power anode rod
Use 6 wraps teflon tape on anodes, drain valves, TP valves,
nipples, and water heater connections etc.
Test for electrical continuity between anode rod and metal tank

Anode rod heads
Combo anode rod
Aluminum works better but magnesium does not put aluminum in water Read
Combo vrsus hex anode rods
Combo screws into Hot water port on top of tank.
Hex screws into anode port on top of tank

Flexible anode rod
Flexible anode rods: Combo and Hex head
Use flexible when space above tank is limited
Combo anode rod
carriage bolt
Insert 5/8" carriage bolt in combo anode rod
Or 9/16" carriage bolt in pex-lined nipple
Prevent water heater nipple from collapse
Knipex channel locks
Combo anode installed in hot water port
Combo anode is installed in hot water port
On some water heaters, a 2nd anode can be installed by using combo anode.
If odor is problem, then all anodes must be removed.

Dip tube installed on Cold side of tank.
Routes incoming cold water to tank bottom
Read about Dip Tubes
Remove Bradford White anode rod
Larger image
How to remove combo anode

Remove short water heater nipple

If pipe wrench alone will not do the job, or nipple is too short:
Drive a screw extractor into the nipple on Hot side
Then use pipe wrench on the nipple, with crescent wrench on the screw extractor
Rotate clockwise to remove
Substitute Knipex channel locks for pipe wrench
Example: Bradford White anode rods are combo, and the nipples are very short

Spiral screw extractor
Knipex channel locks
Irwin pliers
2 anodes mean longer tank life with fewer inspections. Each must be same metal.
Install anode in regular anode port, and install combo anode rod in hot water port.
If water heater only has combo anode rod, and no separate anode port:
Remove drain valve, and connect cold water inlet to drain
port. Use vacated cold water port for anode rod.
How to remove plastic drain valve
Notes: Add second anode rod
Increase life of water heater
Use impact wrench to remove anode rod from anode port.

1-1/16" impact socket
Notes: Impact wrench
Anode rod with resistor?
Some Rheem water heaters year 2012 have magnesium anode with resistor.
This is a stardard magnesium anode rod with resistor added to improve life of anode

    When resistor is added to Magnesium anode rod, the rod improves performance to match performance of aluminum anode rod without potential health concerns over aluminum.
Difference is 1-2 years.
Health concerns and aluminum anode rods?
Anode rod with resistor
Buy Anode rod with resistor
Standard 1-1/16" hex head
Buy anodes
Buy resistor anode
Flexible resistorized anode
Rheem anode rods/ pdf
Rheem Ruud anode rods/ pdf
2011 Rheem anode rods/ pdf
6-year tank will have .75-inch diameter anode rod; 9-year, .84-inch; 12-year, .90-inch.
Some longer-warranty tanks have two anode rods.

Notes: Diameter
Anode rod
Anode rod
Larger image
Anode rod is 44" to 51"
Buy at local plumbing supply, or on-line.
Rod should not touch bottom of tank
Cut anode rod to size using hack saw.

Put 6 wraps teflon tape on threads.
If water heater has no water, then anode will not work. Anode requires water to work.

cut anode rod with hack saw
Cut anode rod with hack saw
Combo anode rod
Combo anode rod fits into hot port and replaces hot side nipple

Combo anode will not work in all water heaters 
Combo anode rod
replaces hot side nipple
For water heaters with 2 anode rods, or water heaters with anode connected to hot nipple.
Also you can sometimes add second anode rod to lengthen life of water heater.
Both anodes should be made of same material
You can cut notches in anode rod so it will bend. Then re-straighten as anode is inserted into tank
Store anode rods laying flat. Anode rod stored angled against a wall will bend. 
Notes: Bend anode
Anode rod with sausage links
Rheem R-tech-anode-rod
Sausage-link anode rods
Sausage links for 12" space above water heater
If space above heater is limited, buy anode rod with sausage links or flexible links
Rheem Flexible
Rheem water heater parts list pdf
Rheem anode rods pdf

Flexible combo anode rod
Sausage-link combo rod replaces hot side nipple
Sausage link combo anode rod
for Hot water nipple.
Replace hot water nipple with combo anode rod.

Buy anode rods

Add second anode rod to water heater to prolong life of heater. Add a combo anode to hot water port.
Not all water heaters have anode port for installing 2 anode rods.
Both anode rods should be made of same material.
If tank has odor problems, then 2 anode rods will make problem worse. Install power anode rod.
Notes: 2 anode rods
Ariston element and anode rod
Point of use water heater
Ariston point of use water heater

Ariston 'under counter' water heater.
Anode rod is threaded into bracket attached to element plate.

Ariston anode rod
Ariston manual with part numbers
Bosch anode and element instructions
How to install under-counter water heater

RV resources:
Atwood water heater troubleshoot
Atwood resources
Atwood water heater service manual
Suburban water heater service manual

Suburban Magnesium

Anode with drain

Camco aluminum
RV and travel home anode rods
Aluminum tanks do not use anode


RV anode rods
 Powered anode rod
Minimum is 12".  Powered anode rod must be installed from top of tank.
Stabilizing weight is insulated, so if it touches bottom of tank that is OK.
Metal anode rods cannot touch steel tank or anode will not work.
Buy power anode rod
Power anode rod

Advantages: almost 100% Solution for tank odor, tank will not rust out, can be moved to next water heater, can be installed on most water heaters up to 80 gallon including some hybrid, some power vent models, works for gas and electric water heaters, includes LED that indicates if power anode working.

Disadvantage: No protection if electric power is out, power anode voids tank warranty if manufacturer finds out.

Power anode rod
Warranty for power anode rod:
Anode life: 100 yr for coated tanks
'Lifetime warranty for tanks with glass liner that is intact and not broken or cracked.' But how would you know if glass liner was unbroken?

Power anode rod review/ stops rusted tank and prevents odor caused by bacteria reacting with ordinary anode rod:

protects against rust and odor (more about odor, scroll down this waterheatertimer page)
How power anodes work

Power anode rod voids water heater warranty, so re-install old anode rod when making warranty claim
Water heater warranties

Stretch spring to length of tank at time of installation
Works with gas and electric water heaters, including hybrid
Will NOT work on power vent water heaters, but will work with flue damper
Instructions: cut back sheet metal on top

Power anode rod shown above is for tanks up to 75 gallons
Power anode rod can be re-installed in new heater, when old heater is replaced.
Installing power anode will void tank warranty. So re-install old anode rod for warranty claim.
Water heater warranties
Power anode rod has LED showing when anode is working. Customer must inspect water heater each 6 months for leaks and periodic maintenance. If power anode is not working, then tank will rust.

AO Smith Effex
Water heater with power anode rod
Has powered anode rod for 'trouble-free operating life'
40,000 BTU
Sealed unit and flue baffle slows hot combustion gas to recycle heat as it travels through water heater.

AO Smith Effex 12-year gas water heater with power anode rod
Power anode rods eliminate odor in most circumstances

Product manual
Example Effex warranty
Review AO Smith Effex water heater
Reliant heat pump
Made by AO Smith also has powered rod
Intelligent anode rod
warns when anode rod needs to be replaced
Read review of product and company

Anode rod depletion leads to rusted tank and possible water heater rupture ... the cost of water heater failure may not be fully covered by insurance .. home may be uninhabitable until water damage repaired.
Intelligent anode rod warns homeowner before tank begins to rust
Alarm warns of water leak
Insurance data on water heater failure chart
RV anode rod

Anode rod with drain for RV aluminum tanks (Atwood)

Camco RV anode road
Marathon water heater
Larger image
Marathon electric water heater
No anode needed

by Rheem requires no anode rod since tank is not metal.
Tank will not rust.
Marathon use and care manual
Review Marathon water heater
Wiring diagram
Web site
Marathon water heater parts pdf
Marathon water heaters

Odors in water are not fully prevented by using non-metallic tank.
BUT rotten-egg odor problems are caused by bacteria reacting with anode rod.

Glass lined steel water heater
'Glass Lined' water heater
Image shows enamel coated steel -or- glass liner inside all steel tanks.
Water heater tanks and water well tanks have same enamel coating. 
Once the anode rod is depleted, water quickly rusts the tank. The enamel coating helps stop tank from rusting.

Flexing tank can chip enamel. 

Water heater Odor / method to control odor  

Solve odor problem by removing anode rod

If anode rod is gone, then source of odor is removed
Odor is usually caused when generally-harmless bacteria reacts with anode
However tank will rust much faster, and need replacement sooner
How to: remove anode rod. Cut top off anode. Re-use top plug to fill hole.

Hot water heater has odor, and anode rod was removed

Removing anode will only stop certain types of odor
If odor is only in hot water and not cold, then removing anode will usually work.
But tank will rust without anode rod, and this will void product warranty, and reduce expected life of water heater.
Water heater odor
Applies to gas and electric water heaters
Larger image

How to remove short water heater nipple
Read more about how to flush water heater each 6 months

Control odor by adding Hydrogen Peroxide regularly

Install ball valve on Hot side so you can pour in peroxide
Hot side will allow peroxide to enter top of tank. (cold side will put peroxide at bottom)
Applies to gas and electric heaters.

Turn off power to water heater:
Let tank cool so hot does not explode out ball valve
Shut off cold water to tank.

Open bathtub hot side to release pressure.
Leave bathtub valve open until finished. This will tell you when tank has refilled and ready to apply power.

Drain 2 gallons from tank

Add 2 pints harmless Hydrogen peroxide to water heater. Let stand for 2 hours.
H2O2 is easy to flush out, and generally harmless to people. Can be used as mouthwash, read label on hydrogen peroxide bottle.
Do not use clorox.
CLOROX is NOT used for this purpose since it cannot be easily flushed out, and bleach odor can last weeks or longer coming out each tap for extended period of time.
Then drain tank to flush hydrogen peroxide. Refill completely until water is coming out of bathtub drain, then turn on water heater. Applies to gas and electric heaters.

Buy: parts to make this drain valve
Buy parts:
Dielectric nipples
3/4" ball valve
Brass ball valve

Garden hose to 1/2 pipe
Garden hose to 3/4 pipe
Plastic funnels
Buy: Ball valve/ gas
Gas ball valve

Buy hydrogen peroxide at Grocery store or Drug store
Shop Amazon - Industrial and scientific
Causes for smelly water:
A. A concentration of sulfate in the supply water.
B. Little or no dissolved oxygen in the water.
C. A sulfate reducing bacteria which has accumulated within the water
heater (this harmless bacteria is nontoxic to humans).
D. An excess of active hydrogen in the tank. This is caused by the
corrosion protective action of the anode.

Both aluminum and magnesium rods cause smelly water

Often replacing with aluminum-zinc anode will solve problem, unless water is softened.
Use power anode rod to solve problem if water is softened.
Rotten egg odor in water heater is caused by bacteria reacting with anode rod:
These bacteria are harmless to health.
Remove anode rod and smell goes away, but tanks rusts. Install magnesium-aluminum anode to help control problem. Install power anode rod to help stop problem. If water heater has odor problem, then best not to install 2 anode rods since that gives twice the surface area for anodes to react with. Many tanks with longer warranty have larger anode rods and/or two anode rods.
Rheem says: "Rotten egg odor or black water in hot water lines is due to the reaction of sulfates and micro-organisms in the water that create Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)."
This is water chemistry condition caused by several factors, including the anode rod
H2S is one of the few water contaminants that human senses can detect at low concentrations, as low as 0.5 parts per million (ppm). The odor is most noticeable when water is first turned on or heated.
Actual source of odor is in the cold water supply, such as untreated rural water systems or well water; but does not present itself until heated.
Some waters have excessive sulfate content along with various strains of sulfate reducing bacteria.
The bacteria react in stagnant water that has been depleted of oxygen. This reaction produces hydrogen sulfide gas by utilizing the hydrogen ion from the anode cathode reaction. In other words, the water condition reacts with anode rod inside the water heater.
Problem is more prevalent in softened water containing sodium in place of calcium and magnesium. The anode may have some affect because the greater activity of the anode, the greater amount of the hydrogen ion and hydrogen sulfide gas.

Water heater odor bacteria can be killed with adequate additions of chlorine: such as installing continuous chlorine feeder. This will usually eliminate the odor problem.

Steps showing how to get rid of odor inside water heater
Best to do this late in day so tank can sit overnight.
1. Turn off the manual electrical switch -or- shut off main gas supply.
2. Shut off water to heater.
3. Open tub faucet and the T&P valve to relieve tank pressure.
4. Drain enough water to compensate for the bleach or hydrogen peroxide. Two pints hydrogen peroxide per 40 gallons water or 1 gallon bleach per 30 gallons water.
Drain water by opening drain valve at bottom of heater.
How to open clogged water heater that will not drain
5. Pour the bleach or hydrogen peroxide into relief valve opening, anode rod opening or hot water outlet pipe opening.
Check anode rod for serviceability; replace anode with a new anode rod if there are signs of deterioration.

6) Re-pipe the heater and close the T&P valve.
7. Fill the tank with water. Open tub spout and wait for water to run full stream, and then open TP valve for a moment to bleed last of air.
9. Run taps until water begins to warm.
THEN let sit over night.
9. After one hour, or in the morning, open all the hot water faucets and allow the bleach or peroxide to clear
hot water supply pipes.
10. Turn off water heater and drain the tank. Then fill tank with fresh water for 15 minutes.
11. After 15 minutes, purge the hot water supply lines again, and drain the water again.

12. Fill tank with fresh water. Open tub spout and wait for water to run full stream, and then open TP valve for a moment to bleed last of air.
13. Check for water leaks at all fittings used; repair as necessary.
14. Turn water heater ON for normal operation.
How to test water heater elements
15. Check for normal water heater operation.
How to troubleshoot electric water heater
How to troubleshoot gas water heater

 Gas in water line/ explosion danger

Anode rod reacts with harmless bacteria.
Usually on a water well. Usually only when water heater sits unused for several week.
New water heater can have reactive anode rod.
New water softener can cause anode to be reactive
Gas in water line
Insurance failure rate of water heater Water heater failure data from Insurance industry
Larger image

Prevent rusted tank failure with anode rod
Inspect tank each 6 months to prevent other failures
Set water heater in drip pan to help prevent loss
How to maintain water heater
9-ways to save with water heater

Dip tube Dip tubes
Read about dip tubes
Curved dip tubes of correct length can help prevent sediment from forming at tank bottom.

Correct installation can prevent water heater from rusting out
1) Use di-electric connections
Prevent pipes at top of water heater from deteriorating
9 ways to save with water heater

2) Jumper #6 ground wire between hot and cold pipe

Water heaters that rust out quickly or need frequent anode rod replacement might be connected to water pipes that are not grounded. Read Pdf
To get 'rid of stray current corrosion, jumper between hot and cold pipes with #6 solid copper wire. And then check that cold water pipe is grounded to outdoor ground rod.'
heat traps Make your own heat traps with 6" minimum
instead of using constricted nipples and constricted inserts that can clog and cause low hot water pressure
Larger image

Flush each 6 months to prevent build-up
How to flush tank each 6 months to prevent sediment build-up

Clogged water heater
How to open clogged water heater

replace water heater drain valve Drain valve replacement
How to replace drain valve

Brass drain valve
Water heater drain valves
Additional links

Research: about water-softening / anode rods / water-heater-efficiency

Hard-water WITH water-softener
Efficiency of gas and electric water heaters is unchanged over time when hard water is softened, however soft water corrodes anode rod and will reduce life of water heater unless anode rod inspected and replaced every 2 years.
Read more

Hard-water with NO water-softener:
> Gas: Efficiency of storage-type gas heater drops 6-8% after two years > cleaning tank of sediment build-up will not restore full efficiency since burner surface at bottom of tank cannot be completely cleaned > however, regular flushing to prevent sediment does maintain efficiency
> Gas: Tankless gas heater will fail when pressure sensor clogs with sediment within 2-3 years depending on hardness of water > regular de-liming will not restore efficiency > softener is required
> Electric: Efficiency of electric heater stays at 99% until sediment reaches bottom element > cleaning tank and replacing lower element restores full efficiency since lower element is located several inches above bottom of tank where sediment debris remains > regular flushing to prevent sediment build-up also maintains efficiency

Water-softener reduces life of anode rod
in gas and electric water heaters
Whirlpool water heater manual says: "Artificially softened water is exceedingly corrosive because the process substitutes sodium ions for magnesium and calcium ions. The use of water softener may decrease life of water heater tank."

Read pdf: water-softener/water-heater efficiency comparison

Water heater efficiency:

Electric storage-type water heaters operate at 99% efficiency

Gas storage-type water heaters operate at 69% efficiency

Tankless gas heaters operate at 80% efficiency

High-efficiency storage-type gas heaters up to 96% efficiency

Gas and electric water heaters Industrial electric

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