Draining (hot) water heater and checking sacrificial anode

I have read several places that the best way to extend the life of a water heater is to regularly drain the water and to check the sacrificial anode.
Couple of questions: 1. How much water do you need to drain (and how often)? Is it enough just to drain out a couple of gallons or is it better to drain the whole thing?
2. I tried checking the sacrificial anode but the hex bolt is stuck in there real tight. I don't want to break the water or gas fittings by putting too much force on it and potentially losing my grip on the water heater body itself. Any suggestions how to loosen up the hex nut?
Thanks
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any time you mess with the tank be prepared to replace it instantly!
just a few gallons every few months, around here I quit doing this getting nothing but water. no dirt or sludge.
At this point you probably cant get the anode loose.
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blueman wrote:

Like hallerb, I only drain a few gallons every few months.
As for loosening the anode rod -- do yourself a favor and use a good dose of "Liquid Wrench" (or equivalent) followed by an IMPACT WRENCH.
When you replace the anode, there's no need to use the impact wrench; just hand tighten it.
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Erma1ina wrote:

Just to be clear: by saying "just hand tighten it" I didn't mean to imply you should use only your hand; I meant use a hand tool (wrench). Be sure it's good and tight but there's no need to tighten it with the impact wrench.
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