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  1. #1
    Ingefanclub's Avatar
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    Default Help. My Anode rod bolt is stuck fast to water heater.




    I need some help.

    I have a 5 year old water heater and I saw the instructions say I should change the anode rod at this time. After finally finding where it was located (on top) in a sunken hole, I saw I would need to buy a 1 and 1/16 socket to get it out. Also I had to buy a 1/2 inch driver extension because my ordinary socket wrench only has a 3/8 inch driver.

    So I spent $7 or $8 on that and tried to unstuck the anode tube. No luck the thing is stuck fast. I put some WD 40 on there but no good at all. I took a hammer and hit the socket wrench many many times but it still will not budge. (Yes I did drain 5 gallons of water from my heater so the pressure was lessened 1st)... I hear there is something called PB blaster that may help me unstuck the perhaps rusty end piece of the rod.

    Any other ideas. The thing has a great grip on my tank because it will not budge at all. Everytime I try to get it off I must drain 5 gallons of perfectly good hot water so I don't want to keep trying this. If the anode rod looks good I will just keep it in the tank.

    Let me know if there are any ideas out there,,, thanks!
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  2. #2
    DaYooperASBDT's Avatar
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    Soak the hell out of it with PB blaster or penetrating oil, then try again the next day.
    You may need extra leverage using a long pipe over the wrench, with a helper holding the tank:

    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/vide...047047,00.html
    Last edited by DaYooperASBDT; 03-29-2011 at 11:42 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Maybe try calling a plumber as see if it sounds like a problem they run into and try to get the info out of them without having them come over for a call. Tell them you'll have them come over if you can't get it out yourself, which might actually be close to the truth. :-)

  4. #4
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    If your water heater is working, leave it alone. I have only replaced one in three heaters total over 40+ years. That one was so warped, it would not come out of the shell and I had to replace the unit anyway. If you must, use a dull chisel on the flats of the bung holding the rod in. You may have to tighten it some to begin the loosening process. I can't believe they recommend replacement at 5 years. Drainiing calcium deposits from the unit is recommended highly to prevent shorts.
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  5. #5
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    I agree with Huey. Leave it alone. As long as your water isn't overly hard and you drain the thing once in a while you should be good to go.
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  6. #6
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    Another vote for what Huey said. Leave it be.
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  7. #7
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    Huey times 3. If you do get it out you might trash your water heater in the process. Drain it like Nuts said would be your best option. You are supposed to do it once a year but who really does that? PB Blaster is great. WD-40 works but it was never designed to be a bolt freeing agent.
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  8. #8
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    If we have an appliance tech here, would love to hear their opinion. The mechanicals may have changed over the years. I would never consider changing out the 'calrod" unit unless I was not receiving hot water. Some units have an upper and a lower. If I have power at the thermostat, then I would pull the calrod.
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    I had my water heater rust out and leak after just six years. But I wasn't the original owner. Previous owner had the temp to max and probably didn't do any draining. I don't drain the whole thing but just five gallons or so from the spigot on the bottom annually. I'm guessing that's where the crud is going to settle.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenwit View Post
    I had my water heater rust out and leak after just six years. But I wasn't the original owner. Previous owner had the temp to max and probably didn't do any draining. I don't drain the whole thing but just five gallons or so from the spigot on the bottom annually. I'm guessing that's where the crud is going to settle.
    The calcium deposits can accumulate over the years to cover the drain and require some tunneling to allow them to drain. Unmolested they will acccumulate to the heating unit (calrod/anode) and the solids will short it, cause overheating or warp it so it no longer extends to the proper depth. I have my heater set much higher than recommended as our baths/shower is at the opposite end of the home.

    Edit: Please kill the power to the water heater if you are draining it or attempting to remove the heater element(s). Without a water barrier, the unit will overheat, warp and possibly fail. I installed a breaker at my relocated water heater. Yours is most likely in your breaker box (my original is also). If you can not shut off power, do not proceed further.
    Last edited by hueytaxi; 03-30-2011 at 02:18 AM.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ingefanclub View Post
    I need some help.

    I have a 5 year old water heater and I saw the instructions say I should change the anode rod at this time. After finally finding where it was located (on top) in a sunken hole, I saw I would need to buy a 1 and 1/16 socket to get it out. Also I had to buy a 1/2 inch driver extension because my ordinary socket wrench only has a 3/8 inch driver.

    So I spent $7 or $8 on that and tried to unstuck the anode tube. No luck the thing is stuck fast. I put some WD 40 on there but no good at all. I took a hammer and hit the socket wrench many many times but it still will not budge. (Yes I did drain 5 gallons of water from my heater so the pressure was lessened 1st)... I hear there is something called PB blaster that may help me unstuck the perhaps rusty end piece of the rod.

    Any other ideas. The thing has a great grip on my tank because it will not budge at all. Everytime I try to get it off I must drain 5 gallons of perfectly good hot water so I don't want to keep trying this. If the anode rod looks good I will just keep it in the tank.

    Let me know if there are any ideas out there,,, thanks!
    Several questions:

    Is it a glass lined water heater? (if it is DON'T BANG ON IT!) Where does your water come from and how hard is it. Even better, do you know the pH (acidity) of your water? If the water is hard do you have a softener, and do you maintain it? Gas or Electric? What kind of service piping is connected to the tank? If the piping is metal (steel or copper), are there electrical isolation fittings on the inlet and outlet piping so a corrosion current cannot flow from tank to/from the pipes? (corrosion is an electrical phenomena). These factors all impact whether your tank is likely to have corrosion issues severe enough that you need to care about the anode.

    With many water sources in MI, hard water scale induced failure is likely to happen to a glass lined gas fired unit long before a corrosion failure, so in that common scenario the anode may not be doing much to add to the life of the tank anyway, and thus may not be worth the risk of damaging something to replace.

    If the anode fitting is frozen due to scale, thread penetrant may help, but it is *less* likely to work than if it's stuck due to rust. (hydrocarbon based penetrants will soften rust but won't affect calcium scale). By all means try it. A good penetrating oil is far more effective than WD-40.

    Also not sure why you are dumping 5 gal of water. If you close the inlet valve and open any hot water outlet tap, the supply pressure will be nearly fully dissipated almost instantly - a few cups of water at the most. Leave a HW tap open while you are working and no pressure can build back up even if the supply valve doesn't seal perfectly. If the 5 gallon dump has to do with the level of the anode insertion point, don't drop the level/waste the water until you actually get the fitting unstuck. Once you have it unstuck, go to the lowest and highest hot water faucets in the house and open them both (with the supply valve to the heater still closed) This will allow the pipes above the heater to drain so there will be no water above the heater running back into it - and possibly on to your basement floor once you unseal the system by removing the anode.
    Last edited by Gehringer_2; 03-30-2011 at 03:39 AM.
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  12. #12
    Yoda's Avatar
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    What does stuck fast mean?
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yoda View Post
    What does stuck fast mean?
    LOL, that is a good oxymoron there. You're a pretty sharp Moron, for sure.
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  14. #14
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    Big +1 to draining your water heater regularly, I tried to do that annually. FYI we switched to an on-demand tankless model a couple of years ago, and love it.
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by DaYooperASBDT View Post
    Big +1 to draining your water heater regularly, I tried to do that annually. FYI we switched to an on-demand tankless model a couple of years ago, and love it.
    So question about the 'on-demand' unit. Are you aware of the water temp cycling up and down as the unit cranks up and back when you take a shower? That was always the issue with on-demand units I've had experience with in the past that has put me off them. If the units have gotten past that, my house is a perfect candidate for one. For odd design reasons there is a really long run of pipe between my water heater and the master bath - wastes a lot of water and time reheating the line all the time.
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  16. #16
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    Yeah I have the issue with long pipe runs too. The Rinnai I have does very well, it comes on very quickly (as long as you don't use low pressure faucets/shower heads). Water temp seems quite consistent - had an issue in one shower but traced that to a loosey goosey faucet valve.
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  17. #17
    Ingefanclub's Avatar
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    I have a 50 gallon gas unit. I drain it every couple years or so (a few gallons) and the water looks pretty clear. I suppose I will take the running advise and not change the rod out. It has a 6 year warranty and the tank is glass.
    Nice to see a civilized baseball crowd. No idiots behind homeplate waving zoo animal puppets and garishly colored flags.(quote from "Antrat")

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