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Thread: black sooty stuff - anode rod?

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member mavis's Avatar
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    Default black sooty stuff - anode rod?

    Hi all,
    I have black sooty-type stuff stuck on the nozzles of my shower head, which developed about 6 or 8 months ago. I installed a shower head water filter, but the black sooty stuff has returned. I installed a new shower head, but I know the black sooty stuff will return. A friend told me the anode rod in my water heater probably needs to be replaced. Might this be accurate?

    My hot water heater is an AO Smith brand, model FPSH 40/252. I believe it was installed when my house was built, around 2001. There is a "blower" securely installed on top of the heater which prevents easy access to the anode rod.

    I don't like the black sooty stuff and would like to replace the anode rod. Another post from a couple of years ago indicated that AO Smith makes a sectional link anode rod that can be easily installed below the hot water nipple, and the original anode rod doesn't need to be removed.

    Is there a similar alternative to replacing the anode rod in my water heater model?

    I'm handy enough to change an anode rod, but not brave enough to dismantle a "blower" and re-install it!

    thanks -
    mavis

  2. #2
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Doesn't sound like anode. Are you on a well?

    And if it is, you dont want the old one in there which is now just a piece of steel wire.

    Even if you get the old anode rod out by cutting it in sections, youll need a segmented one to replace it. Try Fiery chili on the net for good price on anodes, and water heater rescue, I believe.

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member mavis's Avatar
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    hi ballvalve,
    i'm on city water/sewer.
    thanks for the website for a segmented anode rod.
    wonder what could be causing the black stuff if it isn't the anode rod?
    thanks for your help!
    mavis

  4. #4
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    It IS the anode rod. It is creating Magnesium Sulfide flakes. If you do NOT remove the old rod the new one will not cure the problem. And, since there is a "lot" of the old rod on the bottom of the tank, it could continue to happen unless you can completely flush the material out of the tank, (which might be impossible without replacing the water heater).
    Licensed residential and commercial plumber

  5. #5
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Remove the drain valve and rod out the tank with a wire while water enters the tank inlet.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member mavis's Avatar
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    thanks hj! its a gas water heater and is connected to the entire heating system and air conditioning unit. good information on having to remove the old anode rod vs. just inserting another. my basement doesn't have a sump pump, so draining the tank has never been done. must be ugly in there! lots of $$$ to replace the heater. i'm hoping it isn't the final solution, but i recognize its a definite possibility.

    ballvalve - great idea!

    i appreciate all of the good information you guys have shared!
    mavis

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    DIY Junior Member mavis's Avatar
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    Update:
    I noticed in early October that a small leak had formed under the water heater. Decided to replace the whole thing.
    I did a little research on a new heater, though. I bought a State brand, 40 gallon, with an electronic ignition.
    The new water heater has a glass-lined tank and suggests the anode rod get replaced every 2-3 years. I'll keep track of it this time!
    Total cost, including installation (and removal of old one) was $1400. A little too high I think, but its done and fixed.
    So far, I've had no problems with the new heater. Its been great!
    thanks for all of your help and advice!
    mavis

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member mavis's Avatar
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    Quick update: I realized the black sooty stuff was also present on my faucets, as well as the caulking in the shower stall. I decided to upgrade the faucets and replaced them. I removed the caulking and re-caulked the shower stall. Its been 4 months since I did all that, and there isn't any sign of the black sooty stuff! I suspect it was the water heater and the very old anode rod that had never been changed. The new water heater is still performing very well, by the way!

  9. #9
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    SOme water and some anode rods react to create the precipitate (black flecks) you saw. There are different materials that can be used for anode rods, and your new heater may use a different compound as the anode if it's not showing up. It all depends on the water chemistry where you live, and how it is treated at the utility, and which compound they chose for the anode in the WH.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Quote Originally Posted by mavis View Post
    Quick update: I realized the black sooty stuff was also present on my faucets, as well as the caulking in the shower stall. I decided to upgrade the faucets and replaced them. I removed the caulking and re-caulked the shower stall. Its been 4 months since I did all that, and there isn't any sign of the black sooty stuff! I suspect it was the water heater and the very old anode rod that had never been changed. The new water heater is still performing very well, by the way!
    How was the old water heater connected? Did it happen to be with black flex hoses? Not saying thats what it was but I've read that before and that was the cause in that case.

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