How to Replace an Anode Rod in a Hot Water Heater

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It looks more complicated than it is -- change your heater's anode rod soon.
It looks more complicated than it is -- change your heater's anode rod soon. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

The anode rod inside your hot water heater keeps the water heater from rusting. It's a long steel rod covered with either aluminum or magnesium. When the tank is full of water, the anode rod "sacrifices" itself so the tank itself doesn't rust. Changing the anode rod every 3 to 4 years can extend the life of your hot water heater by years. It not a difficult project -- you can easily do it yourself. Purchase a new anode rod at your local home improvement or hardware store, or through the water heater's manufacturer, and get the job done.

Things You'll Need

  • Length of hose, such as garden hose
  • Ratchet wrench
  • Teflon tape

Turn off the water supply to the hot water heater. Turn off the gas. Flip the breaker or remove the fuse from the main electric supply. Be sure to do all three of these. It is very dangerous and potentially life-threatening if you do not take these necessary precautions.

Place a length of hose, such as a garden hose, on the hot water heater drain and drain off about 1/2 of the water from the tank.

Find the hexagon-shaped fitting located on the top of the hot water heater. Loosen the fitting with a ratchet wrench and remove the anode rod.

Apply Teflon tape to the threads so it seals tightly, and put the new anode rod in the tank. Tighten up the hexagon fitting.

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