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Tips on How to Check the Anode Rod in Your Water Heater

The anode rod is probably the most important part in your water heater. In fact, it’s one of the main factors in determining how long the unit will last. This anode rod protects the steel on the inside of your tank from rust by a method known as electrolysis. Through this process, the anode rod will sacrifice itself by becoming corroding instead of the metal lining on the inside of your water heater tank.

It’s important that you check your anode rod on a regular basis. When you notice that the rod has been corroded from the top to the bottom, it’s no longer offering any sort of protection and will to be replaced as soon as possible.

There are three kinds of anode rods. They include aluminum, magnesium and zinc. If your home pumps out hard water, then aluminum is the best choice. On the other hand, Magnesium is better suited for softer water, and Zinc pipes are made of aluminum with a minor bit of zinc added to it. The zinc is added to battle against any sulfur odors coming from the water.

Steps to replacing the anode rod in your water heater

Like mentioned above, when your water heater needs an anode rod replacement, you’ll know, because it will be completely corroded. When a replacement is in order, make use of the following steps:

  1. Before you start, it’s important that you make sure you shut off the water in addition to your home’s circuit breaker or the thermostat on your home’s gas models.
  2. Identify the anode rods located on the top portion of your unit. Many hot water heaters have the anode rode positioned on the top of the unit and connected to the hot water line. If you have a user’s manual, it’s best to consult the diagrams in it.
  3. Your next step is to drain the water from your water heater tank. The easiest way to do this is by connecting your garden home directly to the water outlet line. This is usually located on top of the water heater. When draining your tank, keep in mind that you only have to drain the tank just below where the anode rod is positioned. It’s also important that you open the water heater’s drain valve and hot water valve as well. This will allow the tank to drain at a much faster rate.
  4. Use a boxed end wrench or a socket to remove the anode rod. You may have to twist, bend or even cut this rod to get it out.
  5. Install the new anode rod into your water heater using either the same wrench or a socket you used to get it off.
  6. Turn back on the power as well as your home’s water power.

When removing and installing the new anode rod, it’s best to consult the owner’s manual to ensure you get the anode rod on correctly.

Kevin L. Sharp

Custu Mer

Sunday 20th of January 2019

You totally skipped over 'How to check...'!!


Tuesday 12th of September 2017

This would be much more meaningful if the author would reread and edit extensively the step-by-step instructions. E.g., (Step 1.) ... shut off your home's circuit breaker (if it applied, it would be the electric water heater's circuit breaker), but this instruction says "... on your home's gas models." I'm sorry, but gas models do not have circuit breakers. I'd suggest a better first step would be to get a replacement anode rod before beginning. (Step 3.) This one is really messed up. You should simply attach a garden hose, not "home", to the drain near the lower portion, not "on top", of the water heater. And shut off the cold water inlet at the top of the water heater so it doesn't keep refilling as you drain it, and shut of the hot water outlet at the top so hot water in the house lines don't keep draining back. The anode rod likely extends nearly to the bottom of the heater, so drain it all out. (Step 4.) The rod usually just a bit shorter than the tank, so it may be helpful to take it out in cut sections if ceiling height interfers with removal. The hardest part may be getting the anode nut threads to break free from being corroded in place when trying to remove it. (Step 6.) Only applies if your hot water heater is electric, and you should only have to turn power on to the breaker for the hot water heater, not the whole house.

You will likely find better instructions for anode rod replacement than this site.


Monday 29th of May 2017

How much of TDS is to be considered "hard" water for choosing ALUMINIUM anode rod in contrast to softer Magnesium sacrificial anode rod ?