Does anyone clean their anode rod (hot water heater)

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deal

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Due to my impending need to move my RV I decided to winterize it right now.  My kids hockey has started anyhow so the chances of actually using the RV again this year are slim ( ::) sigh canada)

Anyhow, I removed the hot water heater plug and took a pressure shower while doing so.  Instructions for winterizing should include the point do not stand directly in front of plug when removing  :-[

The anode rod has a real thick buildup of minerals or whatever around it 1/2 inch diameter in total. Should I scrape it off? Leave it alone, or replace?

 

boatbuilder

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I have always scraped off the anode. Actually I usually rinse it off in the stream of water that is draining.  I am not sure of the WH manufacturers recommendation but I know in boats we change the zinc anodes when they have worn down half way or more.
 

rsalhus

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I soak ours in a cup of vinegar for awhile.  It cleans them up pretty good.
 

SargeW

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The anode rod is made to disintegrate so I can't imagine that cleaning it off would hurt anything. Just watch it and replace it when it is over 50% gone. It keeps the tank from being eaten up.
 

Jeff

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The rest of the water heater probably looks like the anode. Once a year I:

Drain the heater.
Add a pint of vinegar and top off with water.
Turn on the heater
Open hot water faucets to get mixture into those lines
Wait an hour
Remove both the safety valve and drain (carefully!)
Flush tank from above (Through safety valve).

I usually get a lot of lime out of the heater while flushing after it softens up. You may have to remove strainers on faucets if they plug up with lime.
 

deal

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I attached a pic since I've lost confidence that I know what it should look like.
 

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Jeff

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That's a lot of lime! Soak it in a vinegar mixture for an hour or so.
 

Tony_Alberta

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rovinsteve said:
It's called a sacrificial anode and is supposed to be eaten away (instead of the heater tank).  Seems like cleaning it would take away part of the sacrifice (grin).
Hehehe  I wonder what the gods will think.  :)
 

Gypsy Rovers

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From the picture I would recommend replacement!  When you get the new one you'll see how much is missing on the one you have.  They're not that expensive, I replace mine on an annual basis and clean the crud out of the tank by flushing.

Cheers
Dale
 

Gary RV_Wizard

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Yikes!  It's definitely time to replace that anode!  This is what a new one looks like:

http://www.amazon.com/Camco-11563-Aluminum-Suburban-Heaters/dp/B000701HF0
 

Alfa38User

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Anyhow, I removed the hot water heater plug and took a pressure shower while doing so.  Instructions for winterizing should include the point do not stand directly in front of plug when removing 

We have all likely done that, at least once, heh heh!!

And when you do put the new one in, do NOT use Teflon tape on the threads (like I did and wondered why it did not seem to disintegrate). With all that deposit on it I wonder if it is not time to soak the whole tank in a vinegar solution as was suggested previously.
 

deal

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Wow, I got a good laugh looking at what a new one looks like. Thanks for the link Gary. I guess I will be getting a new one. I did soak it in a vinegar solution and that took care of the calcium/lime.  I suppose a vinegar bath as part of opening next season is in order. Thanks for all the replies.
 

threeful

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And when you do put the new one in, do NOT use Teflon tape on the threads (like I did and wondered why it did not seem to disintegrate).

Curious.  How does Teflon tape on the threads affect the anode's performance? 
 

Lou Schneider

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The anode, metal tank and the corrosive minerals in the water form a small battery.  The anode is the postive pole, attracting electrons and the corrosive elements while the tank itself is the negative pole, emitting electrons and repulsing the same corrosive elements away from it. 

Teflon is a very good insulator (it's used as the primary insulation in very high voltage wiring) and unless the threads pierce the tape and re-establish metal to metal contact, the current flow will be interrupted and the anode won't be able to do it's thing.
 

Tom

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One word of caution if relying on how an anode "looks"; Some/many have a steel core, so the amount of zinc remaining may be a lot less than appears visually.
 

Ernie n Tara

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The anode conducts electricity due to the potential difference (voltage) between the two dissimilar metals. Zinc or similar are sacrificial to steel so the steel is protected while the anode gives off material. The TFE tape insulates the connection between the anode and the water heater housing thereby preventing current flow.
Ernie
 

Alfa38User

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Tom said:
One word of caution if relying on how an anode "looks"; Some/many have a steel core, so the amount of zinc remaining may be a lot less than appears visually.

My original which I changed in 2005 (was likely a 1999 model HWH) was a long thin rusty looking nail less than 1/8" in diameter, most, if not all, the anode material was  gone.
 

Derby6

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Lou Schneider said:
The anode, metal tank and the corrosive minerals in the water form a small battery.  The anode is the postive pole, attracting electrons and the corrosive elements while the tank itself is the negative pole, emitting electrons and repulsing the same corrosive elements away from it. 

Teflon is a very good insulator (it's used as the primary insulation in very high voltage wiring) and unless the threads pierce the tape and re-establish metal to metal contact, the current flow will be interrupted and the anode won't be able to do it's thing.

OK if it doesn't seal what does one do then????  I have been using Teflon tape, but do believe I have some metal to metal contact. :-\
 
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