Removing anode rod........

annzgwApril 2, 2007

I've searched and read the previous posts regarding anode rods, but I haven't come across how to get a 'stuck' anode rod to break loose from the water heater.

It needs to be changed............odor in hot water........all other tests for bacteria are negative. They have well water and the system is on a water softener (lots of iron). HW heater is only 5 yrs old.

DS has tried a socket wrench, in addition to using a pipe on the handle for leverage. Nothing is moving except the water heater.

Any suggestions before we call in the plumber???

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Air or electric impact wrench and an IMPACT (rated) six point (NOT a 12 point) socket. Wear safety goggles.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:41AM
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Mine took a lot of work to get loose. Definitely the socket wrench is the way to go to keep from rounding off the corners. I also liberally applied liquid wrench to the threads. Whether it helped or not, I spent a lot of time with a wrench on the rod, just tapping the wrench with a hammer to try to loosen the threads.

It wasn't a simple put-the-wrench-on-the-nut-and-pull-hard kinda job. Good luck and have patience. I think mine took me an hour plus to get loose.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 9:44AM
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Thanks.........we'll try again but DS was getting concerned since the socket wrench was starting to 'play' and he was afraid the corners were wearing.
I'd love to get a pipe wrench on it but this tank has the darn thing recessed an inch or more in the tank top.
I'll pick up some liquid wrench today and we'll give it one more try!

justalurker........the impact wrench would probably work, but we don't have one. I'll check prices on them today.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 11:29AM
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A 6-point socket will be much better than a 12-point.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 12:45PM
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I had same prob (wanted to use pipe wrench but was recessed). Solution? I used hammer to "punch" down the metal around the anode rod... This allowed me to get a grip using pipe wrench which resulted in me finally removing rod. Granted my water heater is no longer "pretty", but it's not something I normally show people who visit ;-)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 1:55PM
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If you don't have the correct tool for the job then you shouldn't be attempting it. If you round off that anode you are screwed.

As my previous psot said, you should ONLY be using the correct sized 6 POINT SOCKET or you risk rounding off the corners.

You can usually rent an electric impact gun (wrench) at the local rent-a-tool place and maybe even Home Depot.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 3:34PM
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"It needs to be changed............odor in hot water"

I am not sure how changing the sacrificial anode will help with odor. The anode's function is to make the tank last a little more than the warranty period by providing a corrosion medium (aluminum or magnesium) instead of the steel tank. Sounds like there is sulfur in the water.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 8:55AM
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Unless the smell has been there from day one, it is not the anode rod.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 12:21PM
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Hmmmm,'s why I thought I should change the anode rod.
Taken from another site:
*****How is hydrogen sulfide gas produced in a water heater?
A water heater can provide an ideal environment for the conversion of sulfate to hydrogen sulfide gas. The water heater can produce hydrogen sulfide gas in two ways - creating a warm environment where sulfur bacteria can live, and sustaining a reaction between sulfate in the water and the water heater anode. A water heater usually contains a metal rod called an "anode," which is installed to reduce corrosion of the water heater tank. The anode is usually made of magnesium metal, which can supply electrons that aid in the conversion of sulfate to hydrogen sulfide gas. ******

DS bought the house in Oct. and the previous owners only said the water is high in iron. Whether they always had I problem, I don't know, but the house is 14 yrs old and the water heater is 5 yrs old.
The manual that came with the water heater says to change the anode rod to a 'zinc' one if odor develops.

Fortunately they're not living in the house yet, but the odor at the sink is bad enough...........I can't imagine showering in it!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 11:08PM
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One thing that you might try is turning your water heater up to at least 140 degrees for a while (I've forgotten how long). This is supposed to kill the bacteria that might be causing the odors you're getting. I'm mentioning this, since it's a lot easier than getting your anode rod out if bacteria are the cause.


    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 6:22PM
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If you want to remove the anode then quit fooling around before you round off the corners and it can't be removed.

Buy, rent, or borrow a 1/2" electric impact gun (wrench) and get the correct sized "impact rated" SIX POINT socket.

Set the impact gun for CCW rotation and after a few seconds the anode will spin out. If not, then hit it with the impact gun for about 10 seconds and rest, then another 10 seconds. I've removed every (hex head) anode I've ever come across exactly this way.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 7:04PM
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LOL.............I got the message early on justalurker! We haven't fooled with it since last weekend when DS realized it wasn't going to move with muscle least not his muscle, and he's pretty strong.

He's going to rent the impact gun, along with the impact socket this weekend and try again.
The socket wrench he was using was a 6 point.
Will give you an update.............

BTW Roger..........we've already tried that, but Thanks anyway!

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 7:32PM
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Make sure you use an "impact rated" socket and even then, WEAR SAFETY GOGGLES.

I have seen sockets shatter.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 8:28PM
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I have seen sockets shatter."

- Also, have your husband wear a protective cup just in case. Protect those jewels. And if you are close by him while he is using the impact gun, you should wear a heavily padded bra just in case.

PS - shouldn't you try and remove the sulfur from the water if the sulfur is the problem?

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 10:12AM
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Gary- you forgot the mouthpiece, since teeth damage is probably more likely than a shot to the groin.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 11:46AM
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There are many people who are "tool challenged" and unfamiliar with "impact tools" that use a regular socket when only an impact rated socket should be used. That is especially important when attempting to remove larger hex fasteners that are stuck like the OP's anode.

People who don't know the difference between a 6 point and a 12 point socket often round off the corners of the hex but that's only an inconvenience and makes for a more troublesome and expensive repair in the long run.

I have witnessed a standard tool socket shatter on an impact gun and take out the eye of the user.

Apparently losing an eye has a comedic value to some that escapes me. Knowing that this is a do-it-yourself forum, I thought the warning I posted was warranted for the OP and anyone else following this thread.

So, GaryG and Thull, here's looking at you kids... with both eyes.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 7:02PM
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We've decided to call a plumber........... for fear of doing irrepairable damage to the HW tank and ourselves! Buying a new tank is not something they need right now and replacing the anode rod will at least let them know if they need to seek other solutions to the odor problem.

Thanks for the advice.............
I'll let everyone know the results.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 8:16PM
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OMG........borrowed an impact wrench and socket from a friend to inspect the anode in our '98 water heater that has probably never been changed. It came out easily, but there was very little left of the original rod. There was probably more calcium (or whatever the caked-on white junk was) than rod. Will definitely be ordering a new rod. There was a lot of the white junk caked to the top of the rod, and some broke off and fell into the tank when I removed it. Is there any way to get that stuff out? I noticed a lot of fine pieces came out when I drained a little water out, but I think the big chunks are stuck inside.

PS I might post a before and after really is amazing.

    Bookmark   September 15, 2011 at 9:07PM
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