Help with Stubborn Anode Rod

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by pseudoyams, Jan 1, 2020.

  1. pseudoyams

    pseudoyams New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2019
    Location:
    WI
    Hey Folks-
    I recently upgraded my hot water heater to a Rheem Performance Platinum Hybrid water heater as part of a recent remodel. After about a month the hot water started giving off a sulfur smell which has stuck around since. The wife is getting annoyed with it - as am I. We live out in the country and are on a well... the old hot water heater didn't give us any issue. Rheem recommended replacing the magnesium anode rode with an aluminum rod to stop the reaction with the iron rich water we have, thus removing the sulfur smell.

    I know this shouldn't be that difficult, but for the life of me I cannot get the anode rod to budge. I've had my brother over with a 4 ft breaker bar trying to get it off - no luck. I've tried a impact wrench as well without any luck. Tried letting it soak with liquid wrench for a few days and it didn't make any difference. Nothing seems to get it to budge.

    I came across another thread on here where a guy has the same water heater and was able to get it removed. Didnt seem like he had any issue with it. I followed others recommendations for stubbon anode rods without any success.

    Any suggestions on how to get the anode rod to loosen? Im getting a little desperate.

    Thanks!
     
  2. mliu

    mliu Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    That was your first mistake. Now, if you succeed in getting it out, you will probably contaminate your entire potable water system (water heater, plumbing, and fixtures) with a chemical that is both toxic and noxious. You're probably better off living with the sulfur smell than smelling and tasting Liquid Wrench in your water.

    Your best bet is too treat your well water before it gets to your water heater.
     
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  4. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    So what happened?
    1. Nut rounded off
    2. socket broke
    3. this wrench did not have enough torque?
    4. impact wrench broke
    If #2...#4. is it too late to return that weak impact wrench and get a strong one? I bought a HF air impact wrench. The wrench broke. I returned that 1/2 inch air version (I had a compressor) with sockets and got the next size up with sockets. That barely had enough torque, but but it was off. I put in a powered anode, and used much less torque to tighten that with PTFE tape. I used what I estimate to be 10 ft-lbs to tighten. I watched for a slow leak. No leak.

    Clean off the liquid wrench before trying the strong one.
     
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  5. pseudoyams

    pseudoyams New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2019
    Location:
    WI
    Neither 1, 2, or 4 so must be #3. I did start with a 12pt socket and it did round off the nut a bit, but I then got a 6pt socket for the impact wrench and its able to catch enough - so Im ok there. The impact wrench I had does 300 ft lb of torque and 1050 ft lb in bolt breakaway (whatever that means exactly..i didnt notice any difference). I will be returning the impact wrench, but Im not finding anything stronger thats electric. All electric models seem to have a 8.5A motor producing 300 ft lb of torque. I do have a small 6 gallon 150 psi compressor.. unsure if thats enough to power a stronger air impact wrench though.

    I would assume that for the cost of the air impact wrench that I could just throw in the towel and call the local plumbing shop? It sounds like Ive basically exhausted my options except for getting more power to get it off. (Queue Tim the Tool Man Taylor more powa grunts! ;) )
     
  6. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Check your friends. One may have one they would be glad to lend.

    With a 6 gallon tank pumped up to 140, I would think you would have enough. 6 gallons is about 0.8 cuft. If the impact wrench takes 8 cfm, you should get a few good seconds before you have to let the compressor pressurize the tank again.

    I would be looking for 3/4 probably with an impact socket. I think impact sockets are normally 6-point. Check CL also.
     
  7. James Henry

    James Henry In the Trades

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2019
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Billings, Montana.
    Try tapping on the nut with a hammer, (not to hard), it may break away any corrosion that is freezing it up. after that I would put a wrench on it and hit the handle on the wrench in the direction of counter clockwise with the hammer. sometimes it works, sometimes it don't.
     
  8. mliu

    mliu Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2007
    Location:
    Colorado
    What make and model impact wrench? Unless you're buying a quality name-brand tool, the specifications are probably grossly overrated.

    Reach4's advice that you can get "a few good seconds" of impact out of a 6 gallon compressor is incorrect. (Also, his calculations are wrong: at 150psi, the volume of compressed air in a 6 gallon tank would be ~9 cu ft.) The problem with his assertion is that you will not get 9 cu ft of air at 90 psi (the typical working pressure for an air impact wrench). As soon as you trigger your impact wrench and the air starts flowing, the pressure in the tank will begin to drop. With a large compressor, that pressure drop in the large storage tank will not be so great and the large pump will start running to keep up with demand. But with a tiny 6 gallon tank (and an undersized pump), the pressure drop will be significant and almost immediate. So the impact wrench will never have enough air flowing through at the required 90psi to provide the rated torque.
     
  9. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    How long do you think it would take to drop from 140 psi to 80 psi?
     
  10. Javier Hinojosa

    Javier Hinojosa New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2020
    Location:
    Brownsville TX
    I’m having trouble too. My water heater is about 8 months old. Tried loosening the anode Rod in the following order to no avail:
    1. 1/2” Ratchet w/6 pt socket
    2. Used breaker bars
    3. Used electric impact wrench
    4. Used 1/2” pneumatic impact wrench with small compressor
    5. Used another 1/2” pneumatic impact wrench with bigger 30 gallon compressor
    6. GAVE UP !

    Any suggestions?
     
  11. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    3/4 or 1 inch impact wrench.
    I bought a cheap pneumatic 1/2, and it broke. I took it and the sockets back, and exchanged for a 3/4 pneumatic. It barely did the job.
     
  12. pseudoyams

    pseudoyams New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2019
    Location:
    WI
    I kept forgetting to post an update to this but this is how my situation played out..

    I couldn't get it to budge for anything. I called a local contractor and they gave it a good effort for about 45' then gave up saying they couldn't get it out. I called Rheem to explain my situation - trying multiple times, using impact drivers, breaking bars, multiple contractors, etc - and how it wasn't budging. To my surprise, they offered to replace the unit under warranty at no cost so I got all that worked out. I originally bought mine from Home Depot.

    Once I got the new unit, I kept it in the box, set it on its side and strapped it down so it wouldn't slide, cut off the top of the box and opened up the cover to get to the anode rod. My brother and I had a breaker bar and a 6 ft steel pipe that we put over the breaker bar. Even then it was a quite difficult to remove, but we got it loosened and out, and put the new aluminum anode rod in. All is good since. We both couldn't believe how much force we had to put on this thing to get it out.
     
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  13. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Cool. They use a lot more torque than needed. You could have tightened the new anode with new PTFE tape and I would guess 15 ft-lbs of torque, and had no leak.

    If the WH still generates H2S, I would consider a Ceranode powered anode. I think the long electrode should give better protection than a short powered anode. If the anode spot is recessed much, there might need to be something done to extend the thread to clear the wider powered anode.

    Well? You might consider sanitizing your well and plumbing, including the WH. Producing H2S in the water heater takes sulfate in the water. and SRB, plus metal ions, if I understand correctly. Knocking down the SRB should help that. How quickly before it repopulates? I don't know. https://terrylove.com/forums/index....izing-extra-attention-to-4-inch-casing.65845/ is my sanitizing writeup. If city water, shocking the plumbing might do it, since no more SRB should come in via the city water pipes.
     
  14. pseudoyams

    pseudoyams New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2019
    Location:
    WI
    Its been about a month now since I swapped and its been good. Family is happy now. ;) Im keeping the Ceranode in my back pocket just in case the smell comes back. Itll be much easier to swap now! Thanks for the suggestions.
     
  15. Javier Hinojosa

    Javier Hinojosa New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2020
    Location:
    Brownsville TX
    Happy to report I finally got it loose this morning!
    I called a commercial roadside service company, they used a 1" pneumatic impact wrench and got it loose.
     
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  16. Phil Sego

    Phil Sego New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2021
    Location:
    Boston MA
    I know that this is an old thread, but...
    I've been struggling with a Rheem 40 gallon tank for weeks, trying most of the advice here. In the back of my mind I remembered my college physics: heat expands, cold contracts. I emptied a few gallons of hot water and put ice cubes on top of the bolt head (and drew off the water). In 10 minutes, and after 4 or 5 cubes, the head was VERY cold. Quickly, before heat could conduct thru the anode rod to the bolt head, I grabbed the socket with the cheater bar, and the anode rod came right out.
    Now we may ask ourselves "why does Rheem install these with over 200lbs of torque?" Simple: to sell more HWHs. I saw that the bottom three threads were bordering on stripped. All they really need is a maximum of ~50 lbs. I typically use blue teflon and megalok, knowing that when I go back later, the pipes will separate as easily as they went together.
     
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  17. Sarg

    Sarg Enjoy Learning

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2020
    Occupation:
    Recently retired
    Location:
    NorthEast
    A good idea if you loaded up the new rod with tape is to take a multimeter and check for continuity between the top of anode and the metal tank. Assures the threads of the anode have contact with the tank so the anode will function.
     
  18. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    When I put my anode in, I was concerned. I watched with an ohmmeter. There was continuity when I was not even hand tight yet. Those threads cut right through the tape.
     
  19. blz2dwl

    blz2dwl New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2021
    Location:
    East Coast
    Just tackled the same project on a Rheem hybrid. Not only are the anode's gorilla tight from the factory, the hot water heater creates expansion that further tightens the anode. After cutting away the plastic plug around the anode head (used a sharp chisel, made a cut on both sides, then twisted it out with pliers...easy!), I put an electric DeWalt impact wrench on it and nothing happened. Hit it again with the impact and nothing. I tried 5 times, held the impact on for 20 seconds, and nothing. Then I put two cubes of ice in the hole on top of the anode head. Left them there for 5 minutes, removed, then put the impact back on. Zip! The anode came right out. Science for the win!
     
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