Water heater zinc anode rods

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pakle

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I was talking to a neighbor who suggested homeowners replace the zinc anode rods in the water heaters periodically, to extend the life of the water heater possibly by double. For a cost about $300 to replace the rod compared to about $1500 for a new water heater around here. We're on city water. Mine broke last year just short of 10 yrs.

Do you tell this to your clients and if so, how often do you recommend replacing the zinc rod (I think he was told 5 yrs)? Thank you.
 

sarg

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The majority of anode rods are magnesium and yes .... replacing them when deteriorated will usually prevent tank from rusting out prematurely. The actual cost of the average rod is about $20.
 

arctic bill

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this is a very good do it yourself thing. However you must start it at the beginning once every year.
 

pakle

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Thanks. I have this water heater bought last year:
Looks like anode rod is magnesium. I'd get a plumber to do it and if it's supposed to be a yearly thing for $300, then I'll have to run the math again...
 

Twowaxhack

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Rheem says the anode should be checked annually and replaced when more than 6” of wire is exposed from either end of the rod.
 

Twowaxhack

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Does anyone really do this?
[/QUOT
As a plumbing business owner, I wish everyone did. It would be great for business. Easy work in the grand scope of things I do.

IMO it’s not cost effective unless you can DIY and most people can’t or won’t DIY.
 

sarg

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I service my electric heater & pressure tank every year. Just did it last week on a tank I installed last November. When I remove & replace the elements I vacuum the sediment out through the bottom element hole and also inspect the anode rod while the elements are out.
And because of the amount of sediment I found this time I'll be doing it again in six months. Takes about three hours now.
 

pakle

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As a plumbing business owner, I wish everyone did. It would be great for business. Easy work in the grand scope of things I do.

IMO it’s not cost effective unless you can DIY and most people can’t or won’t DIY.
Thanks for your honest answer. I might think about it a few years from now but I would probably combine it with other plumbing work I need to have done depending on the added cost.
 

Ferdinand

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One more thing to watch out for, if a water softener system is installed in your system, any magnesium anode in your water heater should be replaced with an aluminum anode instead. The salt from the softener system reacts with magnesium, rapidly destroying the anode and causing out-gassing.

I ran into that when a brand new water heater was installed at our house, which has a water softener. The new water heater came with a magnesium anode and every morning the hot water line had air in it from the anode out-gassing. Replacing the magnesium anode with an aluminum anode totally cured that issue.

See this previous post for the full story with photos: www.plumbingforums.com/threads/air-in-hot-water-heater.14268/
 

skeezix

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Does "out-gassing" cause that odd sulphur-like smell to the hot water?
 

arctic bill

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As a plumbing business owner, I wish everyone did. It would be great for business. Easy work in the grand scope of things I do.

IMO it’s not cost effective unless you can DIY and most people can’t or won’t DIY.
I agree , it is an easy job , torn off the water and hot water tank , remove magnesium anode , replace with new one, turn on water and tank .
 

Twowaxhack

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I agree , it is an easy job , torn off the water and hot water tank , remove magnesium anode , replace with new one, turn on water and tank .
It’s a simple process to understand but accomplishing it can be challenging for most. Consider the anode for this heater is in the back corner behind the water piping and a washing machine usually sits right beside it. I had to move the washing machine.

9EA472C0-DF8E-4469-9621-F661B1D446A3.jpeg
 

sarg

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Anode rods have a 1 1/16" hex head and the screw in electric elements are 1 1/2".
Good investments and I've read that some prefer an impact wrench for the anode removal ...... although it's a question what the vibration might do to the tank lining.
 

skeezix

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It also helps if you have a big socket set with a breaker bar.
How does one keep the tank from turning when one uses a breaker bar to remove the anode? My heater sits on a small, 2-foot-high pedestal with very little room for me to stand. See below:

20200315 A.O. Smith Water Heater 480 px.JPG
 
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