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Cincinnati, OH, United States
A woodworker whom saws to the plane of a different hammer.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Hot Water Heater Cleaning and Maintenance and Anode Replacement

My project this weekend was to flush out my hot water heater. This is something that the manufacturer of my hot water heater recommends to be done at least once a year. It can be nasty to think about, but water has more than just water in it especially if you have hard water. All that little stuff, sediment, will settle to the bottom of the hot water tank and over time will accumulate enough down there to cause problems and even complete failure of the hot water tank. Trust me, you don't want to have THAT surprise and lose hot water in the house on a cold January day as I did back in 2009. In this video I share my ... adventure ... in flushing out my hot water heater and replacing the anode as well. I hope you find this to be informative and my shared experience entertaining.

I've had this current hot water heater since then - 5 years! I remembered that an annual flush was recommended,but just didn't get to it. I finally got to it yesterday. Along with that I noticed something in the user's manual about inspecting the anode at least once a year. "Anode?" I wondered. "What is that?" Well, I checked the anode on my now five year old hat water heater and it was sufficiently corroded and in need of replacement. There is more information on the internet about the chemistry behind what the anode does and how it works, but in a nut shell it's a sacrificial rod in the water heater designed to take on the corrosive action of the water, so your hot water heater doesn't have to. It only cost about $25 at the local box store and was as easy to replace as replacing a light bulb. However, the factory puts them in with considerable torque, so since the water heater just sits there and isn't itself bolted down to anything, getting the old anode out is a challenge. I ended up combining my breaker bar with a pipe wrench and a four foot long piece of black iron pipe to give me enough leverage to break the anode free of its torque. Then I just used my breaker bar for about another turn. When doing that I was able to put my weight against the water heater while pulling on the breaker bar. That kept the water heater stable between me and the force of turning the breaker bar. Once it was loose enough to use the ratchet I just used that.

In the above picture there is the old anode next the new anode. Can you tell which one is which, or do I need to point it out to you? As you can see in this picture, the old anode had considerable corrosion. However, believe it or not, it still probably had another year of life left in it. Being that I already had a replacement anode on hand and that I believe in erring on the side of caution, I replaced the old anode with the new one.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you have a water softener (I do not) it may shorten the life of the anode. From what I read from various sources on the internet it is not because it makes the water soft. It's because of the salt used to make the water soft. So if you use a water softener, be sure to check the anode at least once a year and don't wait five years as I did.

Flushing the hot water heater once a year and replacing the anode as needed is a lot easier and cheaper than replacing a water heater that decides to blow it's top on a cold winter day in January. It's not that hard to do and doesn't require the use of any dangerous power tools (I used a cordless drill to remove some screws in this video), so relax and have your favorite ... beverage while you're at it.

Save time, money, and hassle and order your anode ahead of time from Amazon.

Ray Ladouceur
Dogwood Tales

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