Poor access to replace water heater anode

jaxoJuly 6, 2011

The water heater is installed in a closet area with a low ceiling, so there is no room to remove the old anode without disconnecting the entire water heater and tipping it out.

This sounds like such a big job that I am probably just better off leaving it as is and waiting for the water heater to fail before messing with it. I might as well just buy a new water heater at the same if I'm paying that much labor to replace a $20 anode. The existing anode might still be fine since I don't notice any water problems. I only wanted to replace the anode since the water heater is getting close to 10 years old and I thought replacing the anode periodically was a regular maintenance item.

When I do replace the water heater, are there any with either lifetime anodes that never need to be replaced or anodes that have a different way to remove the anode other than out of the top so this issue doesn't come up again?

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lazypup

Your tank is already 10 yrs old and according to a survey conducted by "Consumer Affairs" the national average lifespan for a water heater is 12 yrs so I am not sure I would even bother with it, however the actual lifespan of a water heater really depends upon the quality of the water at your location. In about 2004 I replaced the water heater at my mothers house, which my dad and I had originally installed in 1965.

On the other hand, if you realy want to replace the anode there is a solution to your clearance problem. They make a segmented anode which is like a series of short anode bars about 10" long that are bolted together so they will bend at the joints.

To get the old anode out begin by loosening it in the usual manner and lift it as high as your clearance will permit and firmly attach a pair of vise grips on the anode at the top of the tank to prevent it from falling back into the tank, then use a hacksaw to cut off the portion that is sticking out and repeat that operation until you can get the existing anode out.

    Bookmark   July 6, 2011 at 11:16PM
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jaxo

The water here must be pretty good, because I think most homes under 25 years old still have the original water heaters working fine. I'm hoping for this one to last at least 20 years so the next one will be a significant bump in more modern technology and efficiency. Maybe tankless water heaters will have dropped in price enough by then to make sense financially. Right now, the premium for tankless is so high, you cannot expect to save enough in utilities to overcome the up front costs during its lifetime.

Maybe the hacksaw method will work to get the old anode out, but don't you have to buy a water heater model designed to fit the segmented anodes? The part the manufacturer stocks for the model I have is a single piece.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 12:10AM
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brickeyee

"The part the manufacturer stocks for the model I have is a single piece."

There are after market segmented anodes.

The OEM often does not bother with them.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:12AM
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lazypup

The anode rod is merely a bar of zinc or aluminum that has a hex head and a 3/4"npt thread under the head. If the truth was told I doubt if any of the water heater manufacturers actually make their own. Most likely they simply buy them from the third party mfg and put their label on them. The bottom line, they are all interchangable.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 10:54AM
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justalurker

Lots of anodes have the nipple connection at the top and not a hex head.

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 4:21PM
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attofarad

Some good info:

Here is a link that might be useful: Water heater anode stuff

    Bookmark   July 7, 2011 at 9:09PM
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jaxo

Finally got the water heater serviced and flushed. Replaced the anode and drain valve and pressure relief valve.
Didn't need a hacksaw and vice grips to remove the anode. The old anode was flexible enough to be bent to clear the ceiling with effort. The new anode was designed to bend so it went in easily.
The anode should be good for at least 5 years and hopefully the water heater can last another 10.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:08PM
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lazypup

All the water heater anodes that I have ever seen have a 1-1/16" hex head with 3/4" npt threads on the rod directly below the head.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:28PM
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justalurker

Pup,

Not my 1995 50 gallon LP A.O.Smith and a lot of other WHers I've seen over about 7 years old.. The combo anode is attached to the HOT nipple.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2011 at 11:51PM
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lazypup

Now you have me curios,,I think I will drive over to A.O.Smith's home office tomarrow morning and find out when they actually started using those.

    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 1:15AM
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    Bookmark   July 27, 2011 at 1:39AM
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