Discussion in 'Water Heaters and Softeners' started by branimal, Jan 9, 2019.
Yes you can cut them and also they bend pretty easy too.
if you could get the impact on there, I'd give it a try. don't go crazy.... just a very quick burst and if it works, great, but if not, as you've said its on borrowed time. just start saving to replace it.
Tip from long years of using air and electric impact guns. On any rusted fastener, begin with the gun in "tighten" direction and give the fastener a few light-to-medium hits. Then reverse to "loosen", hold and turn the socket tight against the fastener in the loosen direction and then gradually begin increasing the force.
Most air and battery guns have an adjustment for force, but some of the older AC electric guns do not.
Just because the water heater is seven years old, doesn't mean that the anode rod is depleted. I just recently revisited a water heater that I installed new back in 1993. After 26 years in service, the anode rod had not yet fully depleted. It can depend on the hardness of the water, the material of the anode, the quality of the interior tank liner, among other factors. For example, a magnesium anode rod might deplete much faster than an aluminum rod. A zinc aluminum anode might deplete differently than an aluminum rod. Certainly, a zinc aluminum will be less likely to impart a sulpher smell to the water than a magnesium rod... so different metals will have different characteristics and interactions with different water qualities, soft or hard.
Technician's motto: Test, don't guess.
Pull the rod. And in the recent words of Bezos... see what crawls out.
Earlier, a respondent to this thread mentioned having to poke a hole in his/her ceiling to retrieve the old rod or install a new rod. The industry already solved this problem with segmented anode rods that have several sections and fold up like num chucks or linked sausages. The center wire is continuous, but flexible enough to fold the sections up temporarily to fit between the top of the tank and the ceiling, while then lowering the bottom segment into the tank, straightening the center wire, then lowering the next segment, and so on and so forth until the final segment with the nut has sunken into the threaded seat on the tank.
I think it was the same respondent who stated that using an impact wrench was a "bad idea". In my experience, using an impact wrench is actually the best idea, as there is no way a 6' cheater pipe with a socket at the end for leverage, or in the center so as not to twist up the tank on the plumbing... still won't fit in a closet that is only 30" by 30", if that is where the hot water tank happens to be. On the other hand, and impact wrench will fit anywhere, around any flue or plumbing, and does not impart any torque on the water heater tank itself. All the beats of the impact are isolated to act directly on just the hex of the anode nut. An impact wrench has sometimes been the ONLY way possible to remove a corroded anode rod hex.
I replaced the anode rod last summer at my weekend home, where the water is kind of nasty. Full of iron, and extremely hard. The tank is original from 2007, so the rod was 11 years old.
It was indeed challenging to find the head of the original rod, but it's there! Of course I needed the one deep well socket that I did NOT have (as I recall it was 1-1/16") but a quick trip to ACE Hardware and $8 later, I had it. Yes, it took a 1/2" socket wrench and a lot of cussing to finally spring it loose. An extra set of hands to prevent the entire tank from twisting helped.
To my surprise, it had a lot of "growth" on it, (but not too much decay) but in order to get it out, I did have to bend it in pieces. The one I replaced it with with was a little too long, (I heard it touch the bottom of the tank, and it was longer than the original) so I merely cut off a few inches of the magnesium.
As mentioned the replacement was one of the "numchuk" variety, which is a series of magnesium rods cast around a length of stainless steel rope.
A little teflon tape and a few minutes later all again is well.
I'd been told (but never seen it first-hand) that the shock from an impact wrench can crack the glass lining in the tank. When taking the old rod out, yes, you can cut it, or (more easily) bend it, as you withdraw it. But a very old rod has probably mostly dissolved anyway. And yes, flexible (or linked) rods were made for this problem.
Forgot to post... I removed the anode rod with a cordless impact wrench a week ago. Tightened then loosened it as others here have suggested. The rod didn't look to be in terrible shape. See pic.
I picked up a 44" aluminum flexible rod replacement for $25. I could have gotten in a taller rod, but my local HD didn't have any in stock.
I'll replace it later this week.
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