Last Tuesday I changed out my hot water heater's anode rod. I had checked it early September 2013 and it looked pretty good so I left it in place, but I knew I should check it again in a few months. It's now almost four months later, and I was glad I checked it. It has deteriorated quite a bit since September.
I went through all the steps I did in September, except this time I put a new rod in. I always have my water off unless I'm using it, so I didn't have to turn it off, but I did double check the switch. I also never heat water unless I need it, so there was no hot water to worry about. All I did to start was turn on all the taps so there was no water in the lines.
Suburban hot water heater:
Old rusty head of the anode rod below - it's normal for the head of the anode rod to be rusty after a year of use.
Using my special 1 1/16 wrench to remove the anode rod:
I used the closed end first, from the side, and then came at it from the top.
Little by little, using both ends of the wrench switching from the side to the top, it started really loosening, and finally I was able to unscrew the last part by hand and take out the anode rod. I was really curious about how much more would have worn away in the last four months, and there was a definite difference.
As soon as the rod was out, the water in the hot water heater tank came flowing out, and with it some residue from the inside of the tank.
My tank holds 6 gallons, and here it is on the desert floor.
The water flows out until the tank is empty.
I have the tool that attaches to a hose that can be used to REALLY flush out the tank. It shoots water into the tank, and you wiggle it around to hit all the sides, top and bottom, dislodging anything that's attached to the walls. You're supposed to do that for 15 minutes. Since I don't have a water spigot here in the site, I didn't do that this time. The water coming out was pretty clear, so while there was still water flowing, I decided to get my small bottle brush and wiggle IT around and pull it back to bring out additional debris, and it seemed to work well. More while flakes came out with the water.
Wow, look at that huge piece!
Then I got the new anode rod ready. I wrapped some plumbing tape around the threads and brought it outside.
Here it is, ready to install.
And in it goes - perfect!
Unfortunately I couldn't get it to start screwing in, so I got out a little wire brush to clean away some of the rust inside the opening.
The brush didn't fit inside the opening, but the little bit at the top worked well to clean around the threads in the front.
I used a water filled catsup squeeze bottle and shot some clean water onto the threads.
Meanwhile, I gave myself this badge for thinking of the wire brush and catsup bottle to flush out the rust:
So then I tried again, and it still wouldn't start threading. Oh yeah, I remembered then - When Ron changed the first one for me, he said to put the tape on the outside half of the threads, otherwise it won't screw in. So I took the tape off the inside threads . . .
. . . and it worked. I couldn't get the entire head of the rod screwed in, though, I think there is just too much rust inside for the threads to go any further, but it looks like this is going to work. I'm going to have to find something to clean away more of the rusted threads, but it looks like this will work.
Then I turned on the water switch inside The Palms, and turned off the kitchen and bathroom faucets. When the water heater seemed full, I checked for leaks, and there were a few drops, less than in September, though, so I put a small piece of paper towel under the rod so I could monitor it and make sure it is only a little and will stop. When I checked later, there were no leaks.
I turned on the taps in the kitchen and bathroom. Some air in the lines came sputtering out, and then a good stream of water started flowing.
Below are the three anode rods we've used so far in The Palms. The top one was removed on October 4, 2012 by Ron, the RV Master Tech who checked out The Palms when we were at Bluewater Lake State Park in NM. We thought it was the original rod.
Here's the anode rod for my model Suburban hot water heater in it's package. I already have a link to Amazon.com on the right side of my blog if you need to order one. Check your user's guide, though, and make sure you get the right model number for your Suburban HWH.
That's a good job done - for another year. If your hot water heater uses anode rods, make sure you check it every year. The first rod was changed out on October 4, 2012 and lasted 15 months, so I think checking them once a year is about right for the places I've been and the water I've used in my tanks from those places. Note to calendar - Check Anode Rod every January. :)
NOTE: After reading Andy Baird's comment (thanks Andy) - and please read his comment on this post about the tape on the threads - I thought I'd better repeat this warning and not just leave a link to the first time I had my anode rode changed out in October 2012:
There are two kinds of RV water heaters, Atwood and Suburban. I have a Suburban and this kind uses the anode rods that wear away instead of the inside of the tank wearing away. I need to check mine at least every six months. The Atwood water heaters don't use these, and although Atwood makes anode rods for their tanks, according to Ron, they shouldn't be used. They are not needed and will eventually cause problems with the Atwood tanks.
If you're still reading, you love this stuff as much as I do. LOL Thanks for reading to the end.
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From me and Katie, have a great Saturday, everybody! I hope your team wins tomorrow! :)