Maintenance of Hot water Tank -- Anode replacement
If you own the tank the following would be useful.
There is an anode rod inside the tank. In layman's terms this rusts and in the process helps the tank not rust. Think of it as rust taking the least path of resistance so to speak and attacks the Rod instead of the tank. Hence its known as a sacrificial anode. A detailed explanation is given here
The hardest part in my opinion is to find a place which stock these. HD, Rona and Loews don’t have it and the employees probably don’t even know about it. I emailed the manufacturer GSW and they responded by saying home hardware has them but since I got mine through a local plumbing store I didn’t bother.
They are all similar in size I’m told and come in magnesium or aluminum versions. Magnesium is better (reasons are given in the link above). if you have a newer tank pls read through the link above as its got a lot of info.
you ask the guy at the counter that you need a sacrificial anode and if asked whether you need mag or alu you say mag and he charges you something under $20 and you walk off.
Here is the installation part. Best to do it in the morning.
1. Turn off GAS at the base of the HWT.
2. Turn off Cold water cut off valve (located just above the tank)
3. Open hot any water tap and leave it open.
4. At the bottom of the HWT there is a valve that when opened water will drain out from. You need a flat tip screw driver to insert and turn it anti clock wise.
If you have a small hose connect it and leave the other end near a drain on the floor, if not use a bucket to remove the water (If you don’t have a hose its going to take a lot of time/effort to remove the water!!!)
5. While the water empties grab a 1-1/16" socket and loosen the anode. (There should be one or two small openings at the top of the tank. Go for the one closer to the middle. It will be covered in insulation so remove it slowly. Some tanks have two rods. Once loosened remove the rod completely.
6. Pour a couple of liters of vinegar through the hole and leave it to soak for 12 hrs!!!.(close the bottom drain valve) I was pressed for time so I only did a few hrs.
7. After soaking remove all the vinegar and maybe run a little cold water in and remove everything.
8. Reinsert the Anode you bought (make sure to use Teflon tape) , tighten it and start filling the tank. you will need to cut off the bottom if its longer than the rod that came out from the tank. The rod is about 3-4 ft.
The air in the tank will start to come out of the open tap (see point 3) and after a while you would see water come out.
9. Close the tap and start your pilot and reward yourself with a cold beer.
In an hr or so you should have hot water.
After 10 yrs there wasn’t any rust in my tank and the anode was only half used. see image between the new and old one. I cut the bottom part I would change anodes every 5 odd yrs IMHO.
Disclaimer- use these instructions at your own discretion. These are steps I learnt from my neighbour and reading though different articles so YMMV. Be extra careful when you light the pilot.
if you have any Qs feel free to ask but I am not an expert and I will try and answer it to the best of my ability.