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Water Heater Anode Rod difficult to screw back in


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Hi all. Anyone had this problem. I removed the water heater anode and drained the tank. Now I am trying to put a new electrode back in but cannot get it to grip to start to grip the thread to start screwing it on. I tried to lean up the drain as best I could to thread in. I have very hard water so there was a lot of calcium build up that I cleaned up with white vinegar but no luck. I am pretty sure the thread is not stripped of damage. Last year I had the same problem and a neighbor got it screwed in for me.

Anyone have any ideas?

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It’s difficult to get it started.  They weight of the anode tends to make it hard to keep it level.  I insert it and then make an effort to support the bottom as I’m screwing it back in.  It usually takes a minute or two.  I’m sure there is a better way, maybe someone will share it.  Mike

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There will be rust formed on the anode and water heater.  Brush off, but don't be too OCD about it.  Put some plumber's water tape (the white kind) on the anode screw.  Start it with your hand, like Mike & Carol says, supporting the bottom as you attempt to maintaining "level" on the anode as you initially thread it.  You will NOT be able to screw it in with the large socket wrench as far as it was when brand new.  That's OK.  Snug it up nicely but don't CRANK on it.

While it was out, I'm assuming you sprayed out the inside of the water tank with something like this before closing it up.  Thiose wands can flush out a lot of deposits and extend the life of the water heater.

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Take the old rod and cut off the nut portion. Put it in a vice and cut half a dozen deep slots at 90 degrees to the threads. Clean the part with a wire brush or wire wheel. Now you have a 3/4” MPT thread chaser. Run that in and out repeatedly until all the crusty white deposits are gone. Now you will be able to screw the replacement rod win all the way! Flush thoroughly with water or compressed air (watch your eyes). Keep it with your spares kit so you can do it routinely.

 Sort of like this pic, but a hack saw is quicker and makes much better grooves.

811DA157-4FA7-4489-8AFE-7588EDE757BE.thumb.webp.1a8659c54643d5f9594f787cd67d8e68.webp

This method fixes the root problem, obstructions in the water heater threads, not the symptom, water leakage and difficulty installing it!. …. https://www.automation.com/en-us/articles/2012-1/root-cause-analysis-treat-the-problem-not-the-symp

If you have soft water in your house, use that as much as possible to fill your Ollie tank, especially long term. It won’t make those nasty deposits in your water system, and you won’t need to perform the vinegar treatment.

John Davies

Spokane WA

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I'm thinking that Mike has a good first step to consider before making a thread chaser.

My suggestion would be to take a pair of vice grips and grab the anode securely.  Then using the leverage of the vice grip you will be better to insert and turn the new anode squarely to the water heater threads.  

If that does not work, then consider John D's cleaver idea.

GJ

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I've always had a habit (good or bad?) of hitting the anode threads with a few wraps of teflon tape to get a good seal before the install.

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Finally, (this is way too difficult) but I got it to thread using Teflon tape and vice grip to hold it straight and screwing it in at the same time. It took a whole lot longer than I had planned. I am worried about over tightening it and stripping the thread on the heater. But I don't want to under tighten it and have the anode blow out under pressure and have to start all over again,. Any thoughts anyone on how tight I should get it before I turn the water on to the water heater?  See pic below.

image.thumb.jpeg.bfae3eca1803da9388366a829320e55a.jpeg

 

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i pulled this of the internet.. Can't always trust what on the net but this is good advice..   

How tight do you tighten an anode rod?
 
Once you get the anode rod inside, tighten it by hand until you cannot anymore. Then, use the socket wrench to tighten it a bit more, about 1/2 turn, 180 degrees. Do not tighten so hard that the water heater begins to move or twist.Jun 5, 2018
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On 4/19/2023 at 8:03 PM, bugeyedriver said:

There will be rust formed on the anode and water heater.  Brush off, but don't be too OCD about it.  Put some plumber's water tape (the white kind) on the anode screw.  Start it with your hand, like Mike & Carol says, supporting the bottom as you attempt to maintaining "level" on the anode as you initially thread it.  You will NOT be able to screw it in with the large socket wrench as far as it was when brand new.  That's OK.  Snug it up nicely but don't CRANK on it.

While it was out, I'm assuming you sprayed out the inside of the water tank with something like this before closing it up.  Thiose wands can flush out a lot of deposits and extend the life of the water heater.

From Imelda: Thank you I am going to purchase this wand next year to flush out the hot water tank, For now I just used a wire brush to get rise of the rust around the water tank drain and then flushed it out with a hose to get most of the calcium deposits out. I got the anode in but I am pondering on how tight to tighten it. 

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13 hours ago, Imelda said:

Any thoughts anyone on how tight I should get it before I turn the water on to the water heater? 

Another "trick" that you can use is to put a dab of paint or one of those "smiley faces" on the front of the anode rod BEFORE you take it out of the heater.  Then when you replace the rod you simply tighten it back up such that the "smiley face" or dab of paint is at the same orientation as it was before you took it out.🙂

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17 hours ago, Imelda said:

While it was out, I'm assuming you sprayed out the inside of the water tank with something like this before closing it up

Having such a wand greatly improves the process.  If you have an old  1/2" garden hose that should be in the trash pile, you can make one really easy from it and some scrap metal tubing and a hose clamp  (El Cheapo GJ style).  Or just buy a nice one with a valve on it.  Either way good purchase suggestion 

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