It is possible to extend the useful life of your hot water heater by replacing the anode rod, also called the sacrificial anode or water heater rod. It is designed to attract corrosive elements rather than have the corrosive elements attracted to your tank causing water heater corrosion.
The tools needed are minimal -a 1-1/16″ socket wrench, an extension for leverage, a pair of Channel Lock pliers, and perhaps a light hammer. Replacing the water heater anode is a normal home maintenance item that could prevent premature water heater failure.
If working with a gas fired water heater, turn the gas valve to ‘Pilot’ -if an electric model open (turn off) the circuit breaker. Turn off the water supply to the tank and open a faucet or two to relieve pressure. It is a good idea to drain a pail or two of water from the tank. If you don’t, when you begin to remove the anode the water in the lines will drain back to the tank and leak out the anode fitting.
Remove the old anode being careful not to allow movement of the tank, which might cause damage to the piping. Depending upon how much headroom there is above your tank, you may have to bend the rod slightly to get it out.
Place a wrap of teflon tape on the threads of the replacement anode and install it. If you had to bend the old rod to remove it, you might have to do the same with the new one. I had to shorten mine by about 6″ to get it in. Tighten ‘snug tight.’
By draining a bucket of water from the tank, sediment accumulation will be minimized. If this is not done regularly, a thick layer will build up over time. The build-up of sediment decreases efficiency as you are paying to heat the sediment in addition to the water. Drain a pailful every month or two.
As always, wear your PPE to prevent mashing your knuckles and getting foreign objects in the eyes.