Most tank-style water heaters contain a sacrificial anode rod to extend the lifespan of the tank. Water gradually eats away at the magnesium or aluminum rod, rather than the tank lining. Anode rods should never be permanently removed from water heaters, even to eliminate rotten eggs smells. The usable life of anode rods depends on water quality, but they should be inspected approximately every two years. Rods that have worn away or are covered in mineral deposits should be replaced.
Replacement anode rods are relatively universal depending on length, but the manufacturer’s recommended replacement part should generally be used. In order to inspect or replace an anode rode, start by removing it from the tank. Make sure all water, fuel, and power supplies to the unit have been turned off. Most anode rods have hex heads. All anode rods are located at the top of the tank, but accessing some of them may require the removal of the top of the water heater. Insert and tighten the new rod if replacement is necessary. Height restrictions may necessitate repositioning of the water heater prior to insertion. Flexible anode rods are also available for such situations. Find these and more water heater parts on SupplyHouse.com.