Hungry Bill, it would have been best had you started a new forum thread instead of posting a question on the back of someone elses.
The anode rod is threaded into the top of the tank, it does not come out through the outlet or inlet.
If the drain valve is plastic, breaking it is of no concern since it is junk anyway. Just have a replacement ready to install. If you are going to make a habit of draining it, install a quality 1/4 turn ball valve in it's place.
Breaking the valve is a great concern because you cannot get the pieces out of the threads without special tools or reach whats left through 2 or 3" of foam.
Some anode rods ARE hidden in the outlet. I will post some links for you to read before starting, but by all means DO IT!
A complete electric water heater isn't all that much money. Have you priced a new anode rod?
When a heater gets to the ten year mark, it's normally more cost effective to replace, then it is to start repairing.
Removing a plastic drain is not a big deal for a plumber, it could cause problems for a homeowner. Plumbers have ways to quickly remove them if they break off internally. That may be with a hack saw blade to cut a slice, or by using a bit of heat. Either way, plumbers remove them all the time. Whenever I add a recirc, I change the drain.
Ballvalve, I suppose you are right if you consider an easy-out a special tool.
In my life they are as common as a hammer.
One can also carefully cut a 3-4 slots in the plastic with a hack-saw blade and remove the remainder in pieces.
I've never seen an older residential water heater that had anywhere near 3 inches of foam insulation either.
They must have some good stuff in California.
This is a DIY that needs some warning or he will be without hot water for 2 days and end up with a 150$ plumbers bill.
Terry, Great anode rods are available in .900 diameter [just makes it thru the hole] and stock .700's for about 13 to 25 $ Heres a link.
At 50 or 60$, you might be right about cost inefectiveness.
And here is a great link that should be on everyones shortcuts: http://www.inspectapedia.com/plumbing/Hot_Water.htm
A-Z Outs do NOT always grab a plastic drain valve to remove them and CAN expand the plastic making it tighter. I do NOT drain water heaters to replace the drain valve OR the elements, and I NEVER replace anodes on older heaters. I remove them and plug the opening.
Exactly true, No draining for me also.
But for 13 bucks, why not try and save the tank with an anode?
My opinion is that by the time the anode rod has deteriorated, ANY exposed metal in the tank should already be coated by the rod, so it should have no benefit to replacing it. I have removed the anode rod in MANY water heaters, (one in particular that I see every week which I removed the rod from at least 6 years ago), and NONE of them have failed "prematurely".