Anode rod replacement

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Rmk9785e

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I have a six years old A.O. Smith model GUR40 400 water heater. A couple of plumbers I've talked to about replacing the anode rod say they only replace water heaters and don't do repairs. I was hoping to extend the life of this water heater. Do most plumbers not handle replacing an anode rod?
 

Tuttles Revenge

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It could be that they see replacing an anode rod as less profitable than a full replacement. Or even just as likely, they've actually never replaced one and don't have any idea how to do it. There are a few guides on this forum on how to do it. And while I've seen it done on a boiler or combi core... I've actually never done it myself in my 40yrs of experience.
 

Reach4

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I have a six years old A.O. Smith model GUR40 400 water heater. A couple of plumbers I've talked to about replacing the anode rod say they only replace water heaters and don't do repairs. I was hoping to extend the life of this water heater. Do most plumbers not handle replacing an anode rod?
How much would you expect to pay for that? (I am not a plumber)

One problem for the plumber is that the last one to touch a device often gets blamed.

If you get a tooth cleaning, and a tooth disintegrates a month later, the dentist does not generally get blamed. Yet in the case of the plumber who changes an anode rod, I am not so sure that will be the case.

Regarding the job, you usually need an impact wrench to loosen the anode that has been in service for many years, if that has a hex head 1-1/16 bolt. I don't know what difficulties occur if your WH has the anode as part of the hot nipple.

Now is the impact wrench going to have a negative impact on the WH life (such as cracking the glass lining)? I don't know. I broke the cheap HF air impact wrench trying to remove an anode that had been in service over 10 years. I returned that and got their next size up. That barely did the job.

I put in a powered anode. That went bad after a few years, and the part got replaced by an upgraded model under warranty. So far, so good. Swapping out the powered anode was much easier than the original anode, because I used a lot less torque when I tightened the powered anode. They use a whole lot more torque than they should (IMO) when they tighten the sacrificial anodes at the factory.

If you get a new WH, and plan to change the anode later, you might consider pulling the anode on the new WH, add tape, and tighten to maybe 15 ft-lb. Replacement should then be pretty easy when you get around to it.

Some well owners in some areas, and the plumbers who install the WH, will remove the anode when new and replace that with a brass plug. This is to prevent H2S generation with well water. OK, I only know one person who's plumber does that, but it is a thing. A powered anode is much better than a plug, and it will not contribute to H2S generation.
 

Jeff H Young

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Ha Ha read Tuttles post only I can say I changed 1 anode in my life about 2 months ago . my heater is AO Smith just now 5 years old I've read on here about it being done I went the full route with a thorough flushing changing drain valve shop vac out crud in bottom it was quite eroded though I hadn't experienced much symptoms I also flushed it about a year ago maybe a bit longer. just trying to squeeze more life out of it also thought I might do others or recommend customer consider doing it.
My contacts are more new constuction related or remodel but not full on service plumbers but I think its a neglected market for various reasons. for a DIY or someone that has a plumber they like.
Mine was very tight I used a impact gun. and my air compressor was small had to let pressure build up and then keep trying to break loose
 

Breplum

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I had never changed one in my 47 yr. career, until a few months ago, decided to by a pair for my 4 yr old gas water heaters.
The anode rod I pulled out of the first WH was solid as the day it was made. It was a complete bear to curve while extracting and not even a micron of sacrifice apparent. It did have a good amount of calcium/mineral white efflorescence on the rod.
Dropped in an articulated hot water nipple anode, but returned the other new one.
 

Jeff H Young

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yea same here but I'm just a kid and I started late in trade only 35 years in. but my rod was pretty eaten up I used the articulated as well
 

Rmk9785e

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Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I bought a Magnesium anode rod a few years ago after reading (here I think) about the benefits of adding a second anode or replacing the Aluminum one with Magnesium. That was when I was having a water heater replaced in the attic of my home (IMHO a terrible place to locate a water heater) and thought this would give the WH a longer life. The plumber installing the new WH tried but couldn't loosen the factory anode so I have it sitting. I hoped a plumber will have better chance in this different home where the WH is installed on a pedestal in the garage. I was hoping to pay $100-$120 for this service.
Now that it doesn't seem a possibility, where should I donate it so it doesn't end up in a landfill?
 

Weekend Handyman

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Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I bought a Magnesium anode rod a few years ago after reading (here I think) about the benefits of adding a second anode or replacing the Aluminum one with Magnesium. That was when I was having a water heater replaced in the attic of my home (IMHO a terrible place to locate a water heater) and thought this would give the WH a longer life. The plumber installing the new WH tried but couldn't loosen the factory anode so I have it sitting. I hoped a plumber will have better chance in this different home where the WH is installed on a pedestal in the garage. I was hoping to pay $100-$120 for this service.
Now that it doesn't seem a possibility, where should I donate it so it doesn't end up in a landfill?
I am not a plumber. You could try doing it yourself. Around here, scrap metal companies will take how water tanks. Not sure what parts they use.
 

Jeff H Young

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Thank you all for sharing your thoughts. I bought a Magnesium anode rod a few years ago after reading (here I think) about the benefits of adding a second anode or replacing the Aluminum one with Magnesium. That was when I was having a water heater replaced in the attic of my home (IMHO a terrible place to locate a water heater) and thought this would give the WH a longer life. The plumber installing the new WH tried but couldn't loosen the factory anode so I have it sitting. I hoped a plumber will have better chance in this different home where the WH is installed on a pedestal in the garage. I was hoping to pay $100-$120 for this service.
Now that it doesn't seem a possibility, where should I


I never seen companies scrapping water heaters , just indinviduals with a beater truck sometimes spray painted scrap wanted. Ive seen them around so ca for 40 years or more. ferguson plumbing lets guys dump water heaters next to dumptsters and they somehow disappear for free. they travel through a sort of route hit body shops etc.. just like the card board and pallet scavengers. you gotta have them in stockton
 

AdamBC

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I have a six years old A.O. Smith model GUR40 400 water heater. A couple of plumbers I've talked to about replacing the anode rod say they only replace water heaters and don't do repairs. I was hoping to extend the life of this water heater. Do most plumbers not handle replacing an anode rod?
I've changed many of them over the years, the oldest water heater I replaced was 40 years old. The customer's son said his dad changed the anode every three years religiously.
 

My12by60

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We live in AZ. In the house we built in the year 2000, our first water heater lasted 6 years. I knew nothing about anode rods and never did anything to that first water heater. The replacement water heater was installed in 2006 and is still going strong -- not even a heating element has been replaced. I check the anode rod every year now. I think the factory original rod lasted about 4 or 5 years. I have put in three replacement anode rods. So the timing is about as follows: install 2006, 1st anode 2010, 2nd anode 2014, 3rd anode 2019. A replacement rod for my heater is between $20 and $35, depending on sale price or not.

Getting that factory anode out was a bear. This is what I did that made it fairly easy once I had my wife's help. I put the correct impact socket on the top of the anode, then put my breaker bar onto that socket, then put a 6-foot pipe over the breaker bar. I put a bear hug on the water heater while my wife pushed on the end of the pipe. The leverage of the pipe did the trick and broke it loose. The only way to get this done is with two people -- one to keep the tank from spinning and one to work the pipe. I think this method is also easier on the tank as the rod broke loose gently with less jarring than if I had used an impact gun and rattled it loose.

Subsequent rods were installed with teflon tape and much less torque. Now I can check the rod each year with just a hand socket.

I am not sure if my second water heater is lasting so much longer than the first due to anode rod replacement or some other reason. But if it is just the anodes, then the savings are very good because I have spent less than $100 on rods vs. having to purchase two more water heaters (assuming each heater would only last 6 years like the first one did).
 

sccwr97

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I have a six years old A.O. Smith model GUR40 400 water heater. A couple of plumbers I've talked to about replacing the anode rod say they only replace water heaters and don't do repairs. I was hoping to extend the life of this water heater. Do most plumbers not handle replacing an anode rod?
I have the same unit, installed on 2018. Right now it started to have some popping sound during running. I want to replace the anode rod, but i have a hard time finding it. can anyone help me locate it?
 

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Jeff H Young

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its in the top and can be under a plastic cap the one visable in photo though I dont belive is the anode but maybe its angle of view. some tanks its part of the nipple on the hot side . AO smiths that I saw it wasent on the nipple that I recall .
 

Jeff H Young

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Im sure the easiest way is for you to contact manufacture armed with model and serial number and find out , but as I said my 5yr old gas 50 gal ao smith was easy to find on top
 

Master Plumber Mark

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go ahead and attempt to change one... its not very easy to do...
once in a while they will comeout easy but most times you need two people to do the job

one guy has to hold the heater to keep it from turning, spinning on you and the other guy needs
a HUGE socket and pry bar to get the rod to come out,,,

harbor freight has a huge pry bar type socket wrench if you are hell bent on doing this

good luck
 

Jeff H Young

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I got mine out with an im pact wrench 5 years old heater. I also put a full port ballvalveon the drain and cleanned it real good. I never do this on customers houses but thought Id give it a whirl on mine . hoping to stretch the life a bit more than 6 years
 

Eman85

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interesting subject. New AO Smith WH instructions say to pull it at 6 mos and inspect. I would use a cordless impact instead of trying to hold the heater and try and unscrew it with a breaker bar and socket.
 

Fitter30

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That pic of the top of heater the flue atmospheric hood looks to be installed 180° out. The tab on the foot fits in a hole other legs get screwed to top
 

Jeff H Young

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I used a air compressor type impact 1/2 inch drive my tank isnt that big so it took probebly 3 or 4 trys pulling trigger when pressure dropped I stopped let it build back up got it done! Cordless or corded or air use what you have or just go with a breaker bar
 
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