(7-yr old 40-gal gas heater)
Our hot water got suddenly very 'rusty' two days ago. Cold water is
clear. I flushed the tank several times, and it still comes out dirty.
The company says to replace the anode rod. The question is, how?
It's threaded into the top of the tank. I've soaked around the head
with PB Blaster, but I doubt that's getting to the threads. Right now,
I'm using a 1/2" breaker bar with an extension pipe, and getting
nothing. I'm reluctant to use heat (acetylene), because, while the
insulation doesn't sustain combustion, it does sort of burn a little.
Any experience/suggestions would be appreciated. In particular, would
it be OK to use heat?
I used a breaker bar, with 1 1/8 socket, and pipe extension to loosen
mine. Was tight, but not to the point where I was worried that
something would give. Make sure the tank is nearly full, that will
give you something to pull against. I agree about not using a torch
to heat. On mine there was little room to get at it, even if you
wanted to heat it.
Can't really comment on the heat / no heat option sorry, but, here are my 2
cents on the whole scenario
I don't know how much torque you are putting on the heater, but I found that
having someone there to help hold the heater in place when trying to break
the threads free was a wise idea. You could rip the heater right off its
moorings if you tried hard enough.
all that a side, I don't see how replacing the anode is going to fix your
rust problem. The anode is there to prevent rust, the rod itself ( with
the exception of a wire down the inside of the anode material) doesn't
really rust but more just disintegrates. If you have rust in the heater, a
new anode may slow down the development of more rust, but, you still have
rust there. And if you have rust in the tank, that means that some part of
the tank is no longer as strong as it once was.
On Tue, 13 Feb 2007 14:20:15 -0500, "Zephyr" <Someguy@an email
I threaded a piece of 3/4" black pipe into the T&P outlet, and use that
to brace against.
There's a lot I don't know about this. It's odd that the rust (if
that's what it is) showed up so abruptly. The mfr's warranty support
insists that the rod will fix it. The rod is only $20; so, other than
the difficulty of getting it out, I'm willing to try.
I'm now considering taking the top of the shell off. That would let me
pull the insulation out of the way, and then I could go with the torch.
Ya, don't believe the manufacturer. On
mine they said, the reason for large
swings in temperature was sediment and
that I must put vinegar in the tank,
let it sit and then flush it out.
Didn't work, no how. About the only
that for about 2 weeks, when showering,
we had a hankering for salad, until
it all flushed clean. On my new tank, I
had a leak at the anode rod. This was
brand new, right out of the box. As I
didn't want to un-install it and return it,
I tried to tighten it. I got one of
those sockets from the plumbing department
where you put a large screwdriver or rod
through it, for leverage. I bent the
screwdriver and a rod. I finally put 2
pipe wrenches on the socket, and with
2 people, one on each wrench, we were
able to loosen it. Put Teflon tape
on the threads and torqued it down. I
know it's making contact, as I checked
with an ohmmeter. But, we got the leak
Rust or other sediment generally shows up in the water because something in
the water supply has been disturbed. Sometimes just a loss of pressure will
cause it when the water comes back on. If the water company flushes the fire
hydrants, you can get rust for a while afterward. It nearly always clears by
itself after a day or so.
It may take a 6 point socket and a lot of torque to loosen the anode. There
is some possibility that something else will give way before it loosens so
it may not be worthwhile on a heater that old. I would just flush the heater
good and wait for it to clear up.
If you don't have an air compressor big enough (or don't want to spend
the bucks for a nice air tool), you can get an electric impact driver
from Harbor Freight Tools for about $100 (they have a weaker one
that's even less). Anyway, the thing is massive and must weigh 20
pounds but mine has yet to meet a bolt it couldn't shake loose (even
transmission mounting bolts with plenty of permanent red threadlocker).
Not that I've ever done this, but I remember someone saying tapping it
once or twice can help. Just a story I remember, but I found some
extra inform on the web:
tom @ www.NoCostAds.com
The time to replace the anode rod is before the tank begins to rust. I
sounds like your tank has rusted considerably.
However, if you want to try replacing the anode rod now, use an impact
wrench to remove the old one. Tighten the new one by hand.
What are you talking about????
I've changed my anode rod quickly and easily with an impact wrench. The
rod has a standard hex head (1 1/16 inch). Here, look at one:
Yeah, I was confused. Thanks. I built a shelf over my WH, with only
a foot clearance, so I would like to replace anodes when appropriate,
but a lot of trouble to move everything and unscrew the shelf etc.
But other people ask me for advice, can you believe that, and I
understand this now.
They arent worth replacing disturbing the tank may cause a leak:(
You may have trouble getting the anode rod to clear the cieling:( even
with no shelf, and if your tank is gas watch the shelf isnt close to
the flue pipe.
The anode rod finally came free, just with repeatedly using the
(extended) breaker bar. And, it's _not_ rusty, contrary to the mfr's
certainty of that. They were saying it was the rod that was prodcing
the rust, after its plating had been exhausted. Instead, it's coated
with white slug (lime?)
So, the rust must be coming from the tank. For the cost of a rod, I
think I'll go ahead and replace it, do the vinegar flush thing, and see
where it takes us.
The tank is bad! Replace it now or live with rusty water and know tank
WILL leak and perhaps flood! You will have NO hot water! No doubt at
the most iconvenient time:(
Tanks are cheap enough I replace mine every 10 years wether its bad or
After a BAD experience where it failed during a blizzard and took 3
days to replace, occured on a sunday just after stores closed next day
storm, had trouble hetting parts, leaky fittings.
OBVIOUSLY your a new homeowner, once you have a little unpleasant
exp[eriences you will KNOW you should just replace the tank, espically
when your wife and kids are mad theres no hot water for bathing....
Homeowners 101 you havent gotten your certificate of achivement YET:(
The white slugey stuff is normal...
Actually, we've been in this house for 17 yrs (I think), and replaced
the WH once before. It leaked, water ran to the cellar floor drain.
We've been w/o hot water for 3 days now (I think), and we're managing -
just keep some heat on the stove. In the spectrum of things that can
(and have) gone wrong, it's no big deal.
All the same, we aren't necessarily expecting this to last. But, for
$20, it's a worthwhile experiment.
Interesting that the manufacturer says the rod itself can produce the
rust. It thought they were just a solid rod of a sacrificial
metal. But sounds like they are saying the center is made of steel?
In any case, sounds like your anode rod looks normal. I recently
inspected mine, and I'd say it may be about half gone after about 6
years. It also had the white sludge like stuff on it, which is the
desired reaction of the rod slowly erroding, hopefully instead of the
If the rust is only coming from the water heater, then I agree, it may
be time to just get a new one.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.