OT: How's your Anode?

Swapping out the $30.sacrificial anode in your hot water heater right
now can save you 400 bucks (and bother) later.
Here is a picture I took of a water heater that didn't get serviced in
time. I popped it open to have a look. Ewwww!
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This heater was installed at the end of 1988. By 2003 the unit was
leaking. The bluish linear bit to the left of the stack is a piece of
anode that fell off and sank uselessly to the bottom of the tank.
I swapped in a new water heater and asked the owner to have the anode
inspected and perhaps replaced every five years.
______Wavy special effect, with harp denoting a flashback_____
I replaced the anode in our water heater last year. It didn't really
need replacing (after only 8 years in service) but the anode cost only
$20 and I figured "what the heck, just get a little crazy and swap it out".
______Wavy special effect, with harp denoting a return_____
Just now, it took me about 2 minutes to turn down the thermostat, shut
off the inlet water and depressurize the tank from a valve in a nearby
bathroom. In another couple minutes, I had the anode out of the top of
the tank using a 1-1/16" socket on a breaker bar. Looks pretty good!
(Beware that it takes a hard push to unscrew the anode if it hasn't been
serviced lately.)
Re-tape the threads and back in the tank, screwed down tight.
Valve in the bathroom shut off,
Inlet valve opened back up,
Thermostat adjusted back where it was before,
Ten minutes tops and I think we will get seven more trouble-free years.
Beware that newer consumer-level water heaters only have a proprietary
anode attached to the bottom of the hot water outlet pipe. Your old
water heater with its servicable anode just got more valuable because
the propriatery anodes are unobtainium. (In my experience.)
Now, I ain't no plumber and I ain't advertising for no business.
If you burn yourself it's your own fool fault. You guys are each about
150 IQ points smarter than I am so this little chore shouldn't tax you
none and might save you a bundle.
(Big grin)
--Winston
Reply to
Winston
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In our part of the country it is common practice to remove and discard the anodes from new heaters. I know their purpose is to prevent corrosion to the tank...but their result is very undesirable. The rotten egg smell they cause is enough to gag a maggot. I can't imagine anyone who has any sulfur in their water knowingly tolerating them. My present heater was installed when the house was built in 1991. I don't expect to ever replace it.
Water quality varies widely depending on location.
George Willer
Reply to
George Willer
When I bought this house in '84, I had the rented electric tank replaced by a rented gas unit. The only service it has had was replacement of the drain valve (which had been delivered in damaged condition) by the gas tech who came to service the meter. He agreed to replace the valve but suggested that I not worry about the recommended periodic draining of a pail of water and accumulated sediment. Since it is their tank, I have followed their instructions. I just wish other items would last as well. Gerry :-)} London, Canada
Reply to
Gerald Miller
Here is a site I book marked on water heaters, some other interesting info there also. I suspect their prices might be on the high side however so you might want to do a little shopping.
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Reply to
Roger Shoaf
Removing the rod will kill the tank, replacing the magnesium rod with a zinc rod might solve your problem.
Reply to
Roger Shoaf
Roger,
That's a blanket statement that isn't true everywhere. I solved the problem by removing the sacrificial anode and not replacing it with anything but a plug. My last home had a water heater in each end because of the long runs. They were both more than 20 years old when I sold the home 12 years ago. Maybe they are still in service. The only problem with them was with the lower heating elements. I know how to deal with that.
George Willer
Reply to
George Willer
Well George I suppose that you might have water chemistry that will not rust steel but something ate your element.
Reply to
Roger Shoaf
Roger,
Don't you know what damages the element?
The deposits dissolved in the water collect on the element and then fall off. The deposits accumulate in the bottom of the tank until the resulting build-up covers the lower element. When that happens the heat can't get away fast enough from a 4500 watt element and the resulting overheating destroys the element. Part of replacing the element involves removing the build-up. Another part involves bending the replacement element upward so it is farther from the bottom of the tank. These deposits cannot be removed through the drain valve, but require the element to be removed to gain access. The ideal time to do so is when the element stops working.
Softening the water substitutes sodium compounds for calcium compounds in an ion exchange. The sodium compounds seem to collect less. Neither seems to be very corrosive.
As I said before, water varies greatly according to area. I'm pleased we don't have your water.
Anodes are not useful here. The anodes are a nuisance because of the bad small they cause and are usually removed. If doing so shortens the life of the heater, it is a good trade.
George Willer
Reply to
George Willer
Remove the cheap valve that came with the heater and replace it with a full port ball valve. Now you can flush the tank and get rid of the stelagtites.
Actually I have a tankless, but when I had the tank style electric I didn't have stinky water. In my rentals I have some 20 year old heaters and when I checked the anodes they were fine.
My point was if the chemistry of your water caused the magnesium anode to give you stinky water then perhaps a zinc electrode would not yet still protect your tank.
Reply to
Roger Shoaf
Roger,
Yes, as I've said...water varies greatly in different areas. Your comment about changing the valve suggests you have absolutely no idea about the water in this area. The pieces of accumulated mineral deposits are much too large to pass through a drain valve of any kind. They are difficult to rake out through the opening for the element and must broken up some. We know how to handle it here. I removed the cruddy anodes from all 25 of my rentals to solve the odor problem caused by a little sulfur in the water.
The accumulated deposits and the rotten egg odor are two entirely separate issues.
Neither your solution nor mine applies to all conditions. Let's leave it at that.
George Willer
stelagtites.
Reply to
George Willer
:That's a blanket statement that isn't true everywhere. I solved the problem :by removing the sacrificial anode and not replacing it with anything but a :plug. My last home had a water heater in each end because of the long runs. :They were both more than 20 years old when I sold the home 12 years ago. :Maybe they are still in service. The only problem with them was with the :lower heating elements. I know how to deal with that.
After installing a water softener I had a similar situation here -- rotten egg smell plus a lot of small black particles in the hot water. At the recommendation of the water softener maker, I removed the anode rod in the heater and replaced it with a plug. The heater (natural gas) has been that way since 1988 with no problems.
Reply to
Robert Nichols

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