82°F
weather icon Clear

Anode rod protects water heater tank

Q: Recently, you wrote about replacing a water heater’s drain valve. A friend told us that we should also check the anode rod. Is this worth checking? If so, how do we do that?

A: An anode rod is a “sacrificial” rod that corrodes away, sparing the tank the same fate. Although your water heater’s tank is glass-lined, there are bare metal areas such as seams and fitting penetrations that are susceptible to corrosion.

Your tank’s main defense is the anode rod. In fact, would you like to take a wild guess as to what manufacturers do to increase the warranty from six years to 12 years, for example? Among other things, they add a second anode rod.

An anode rod is made from magnesium, aluminum or zinc, wrapped around a steel-support wire. The rod is screwed into the top of the tank, but you might have to do some digging to find it.

It’s a good idea to check the rod and replace it if it’s damaged. Generally, if you can see 6 inches of the support wire, or if the rod is deeply pitted or split, replace it. You might get it out and discover that there isn’t even a rod left. As long as a good amount of the anode remains, the tank should operate well.

The rod is attached either to a hex head or the hot water outlet nipple (called a combination anode). Look at the top of the tank and check for the hex head. If it can’t be easily spotted, it might be hidden under a plastic plug or insulation, or under the metal top of the heater. I wouldn’t recommend removing the top sheet metal cover as some of these are “foamed” into place with expanding insulation.

Before you start playing with the anode rod, turn off both the heater and the water supply. Open the nearest hot water faucet to relieve the pressure or drain some water out of the tank from the drain valve.

Inspect the top of the heater for the hex head. If you can’t find one, you probably have a combination anode. Disconnect the flex pipe to the hot water nipple.

You will need something stiff and thin like a coat hanger or other piece of wire. Shove it down the hot water outlet nipple. If the wire stops after about 6 inches, you have a combination anode.

Removing the anode is as simple as unscrewing it. Don’t think it will be that easy, though. If your water heater is not aging gracefully, you might need some brute force to bully the anode into coming loose.

Once you unscrew the anode, you might have another problem: The overhead clearance might not provide enough room to pull the anode out. You will have to either drain the water heater so you can lean it far enough to pull out the anode rod, or you can bend the rod and pull it out.

That means you will have to bend the new rod to get it in, although some rods are made in flexible sections. Bend it in the middle just enough to gain clearance into the hole. Then you can straighten it against the rim of the hole and screw it in.

If you have a hex head-type rod, you can always add a combination anode for more protection. Just wrap the threads with Teflon tape, drop it in the hole, and screw it in. You just might add a few years of life to the water heater.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and owner of Las Vegas Handyman. Questions may be sent by email to handymanoflasvegas@msn.com. Or, mail to 4710 W. Dewey Drive, No. 100, Las Vegas, NV 89118. His web address is www.handymanoflasvegas.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Screen or mesh will keep dog from fitting through gate

Screening or mesh will prevent your pet from escaping through your gate. It is available at a home center for less than $20, and you can choose from a few different colors. If you have an extra-large gate, you might have to buy a few pieces.

Select desert plants for privacy hedge

My Saturday, four-week class, “Fix Your Landscape” will start Oct. 26 in North Las Vegas. This weekly landscaping class will show you design tricks that save water and electricity, plant selections that work, planting methods that are successful and how to fix problems, and irrigation installation and how to water.

Dos and don’ts in eclectic design

Regardless of whether you’re averse to trying your hand at eclectic design or are daring enough to throw wrenches into design threads throughout spaces in your house, designers shed light on some dos and don’ts when it comes to eclectic design choices.

Choices of art usually reflect your personal style

There are also many forms of visual art. It’s no wonder that people get so confused when trying to find art pieces for their homes. Usually, if you have a certain style in your home, your choices of art will reflect that.

Four Hands turns to millennials for design

Four Hands, a leading designer and global importer of lifestyle home furnishings, has discovered that its global consumer market is more millennial than baby boomer.

Good first impression starts at the door

Most homes in Southern Nevada come with cookie-cutter rolled pan garage door. These are steel doors stamped with raised panels to resemble faux wood planks. Some homeowners are choosing to upgrade their garage doors as well as their front doors.