You removed the drain valve the HARD way. I can remove ANY drain valve in a matter of a few minutes WITHOUT damaging the jacket, or needing to "refoam" it. It would also be difficult to get a backhoe into the basement to remove the top, and since MOST people WOULD care about the cosmetics of the tank if I tried to remove the top, it would NOT be cost effective to do it.
I am about to try draining a 9 year old WH that has not been touched since installation. I am going to try to replace the lower element because the ohm meter moved a tiny bit when I checked for open circuit between an element terminal and the tank. (Water gets too hot, and limit switch and/or breaker switch is thrown.) Thought I might as well try to replace the anode as well. Most of my projects only get done after I have tried at least 2 wrong solutions, so the plastic drain valve is probably going to break off. Could you tell me how to remove the drain valve without breaking it? And how do you get the anode out through the hot water outlet? Thanks.