The anode is a threaded bar usually made of magnesium. Water, iron, magnesium and calcium in the water will attack the anode before it attacks the tank and its heating elements. If elements start to fail, consider replacing the anode at the same time.
You will need to purchase two items to remove the anode. One is a 1/2 inch impact wrench and the other is a 1-1/16 socket. Th electric wrench from Harbor Freight is a simpler alternative than a pneumatic wrench that requires a compressor. This wrench can also easily remove lug nuts to change out a tire.
- Turn off power to the water heater.
- Torn off the water supply to the power heater.
- Drain out about two gallons from the tank by opening the valve at the bottom of the heater, Connect a hose to the valve if necessary to drain a few gallons form the tank. If you open the pressure release valve at the top of the tank, no water should be released,
- The tank will have 2 inch cut out in it with a plastic insert on top of the anode, Remove the plastic insert and cut around the insulation with a paring knife. Remove the insulation to expose the cap on the anode.
- Place the socket over the anode to make sure your have a snug fit. Attach the impact wrench and hold it tightly before giving a 4 second reverse burst. A second burst may be needed. At this point you should be able to unscrew and remove the old anode.
- Make sure the new anode is the same length as the old and put two turns of Teflon tape or plumbers putty around the screw threads. Hand tighten the anode into the tank and give a forward burst with the impact wrench,
- Turn the water back on. At this, open the valve and let the tank drain for 5 minutes and then close the valve.
- Replace the insulation in the hole for the anode and snap the plastic cap back on.
- Turn the power back on to the hot water heater.
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