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Propane hot water heater "anode rod" ?

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by [email protected], Dec 8, 2004.

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  1. Guest

    My son just bought an old house which has a 16 year old propane water
    heater. The cold water seems fine but there is a "rotten egg" smell
    which comes from the hot water. He was told that the "anode rod" is
    probably at fault. Does anyone know what this is, how it works and if
    it is replaceable? My own hot water heater is electric and we've had it
    for 27 years, which is admittedly longer than most last but we have
    very good water here. I think that he does too as I saw no evidence in
    his house of calcium build up or rust stains anywhere. I know 16 years
    is possibly stretching it on an appliance like this but they hardly
    have a nickle left after the home purchase and anything that we can
    repair we would like to. Thanks. Lenny Stein, Barlen Electronics.
     
  2. Mike Kennedy

    Mike Kennedy Guest

    Sounds like the heating element in an electric hot water heater. Unless it
    is some kind of thermostat.
     
  3. No, it is the sacrificial galvanic magnesium rod used to miminize the
    corrosion of the steel tank.

    http://popularmechanics.com/home_improvement/how_it_works/1997/9/water_heaters/

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Note: These links are hopefully temporary until we can sort out the excessive
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    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header is ignored.
    To contact me, please use the Feedback Form in the FAQ
     
  4. Robotron Tom

    Robotron Tom Guest

    stated:
    The 'Anode Rod' is a metal rod, made of aluminum or magnesium around a
    steel wire, which is a softer metal that will sacrificially corrode faster
    than the other metal parts on the water heater. The rod is in all water
    heaters and should be replaced before they corrode too far and break off in
    the tank.

    You should see a steel nipple screwed into the tank on the top. Shut the
    water off to the tank and bleed off pressure in the tank, then carefully
    unscrew the nipple and remove it. The rod is attached to the nipple. Take
    it to a plumbing store to get a replacement.

    It can be removed to eliminate the rotten egg smell but it can/will shorten
    the useful life of your heater. Since this heater has had a prolonged life
    the rod seems to have done it's job. Replacing the rod may well cure the
    smell problem.

    Good luck,
    --
    Robotron Tom *remove nospam to email*
    See the Flashback Arcade at: http:// www.arcadeguy.net

    Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral character.
    -M. Smith
     
  5. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    And they're readily available and not horribly expensive. The only snag you
    may run into is that there's sometimes not enough ceiling clearance above
    the water heater to replace it. In that case you need to disconnect the
    plumbing, drain the tank, and tip the whole unit out a bit.
     
  6. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    The manual for my water heater says that an aluminum rod can be used in
    place of a zinc rod to eliminate the smell, apparently it's not as effective
    but better than nothing.
     
  7. Robotron Tom

    Robotron Tom Guest

    James Sweet stated:
    Yes, I meant to add that he should use aluminum for a replacement to help
    alleviate the smell.

    --
    Robotron Tom *remove nospam to email*
    See the Flashback Arcade at: http:// www.arcadeguy.net

    Standing for right when it is unpopular is a true test of moral
    character.
    -M. Smith
     
  8. WbSearch

    WbSearch Guest

    When we installed a water softener 25 years ago, the advice was to remove the
    annode rod. I removed the pipe nipple on the top of the heater and cut the rod
    off. No rotten egg smell, nor leaks, nor replacement of the water heater.
     
  9. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    How long has it been? It won't fail instantly, but it will corrode out over
    time. Water in some areas is much easier on the tank than others and some
    tanks are made much better too.
     
  10. NSM

    NSM Guest

    | How long has it been? It won't fail instantly, but it will corrode out
    over
    | time. Water in some areas is much easier on the tank than others and some
    | tanks are made much better too.

    Soft water is good, as are glass lined tanks.

    N
     
  11. Asimov

    Asimov Guest

    "James Sweet" bravely wrote to "All" (08 Dec 04 18:19:56)
    --- on the heady topic of "Re: Propane hot water heater "anode rod" ?"

    JS> From: "James Sweet" <>

    JS> . The only
    JS> snag you may run into is that there's sometimes not enough ceiling
    JS> clearance above the water heater to replace it. In that case you need
    JS> to disconnect the plumbing, drain the tank, and tip the whole unit out
    JS> a bit.

    If you saw PBS "Ask This Old House" the other week the plumbling
    expert showed a rod for low ceilings that came in sections held
    together by either a chain, rings, or a metal cable, not sure which
    now. But it avoided having to empty the tank to tip it.
    BTW I don't recall if he used teflon on the thread. Would that make
    sense or it wouldn't matter?

    A*s*i*m*o*v

    .... I worked hard to attach the electrodes to it.
     
  12. NSM

    NSM Guest

    If you saw PBS "Ask This Old House" the other week the plumbling
    expert showed a rod for low ceilings that came in sections held
    together by either a chain, rings, or a metal cable, not sure which
    now. But it avoided having to empty the tank to tip it.
    BTW I don't recall if he used teflon on the thread. Would that make
    sense or it wouldn't matter?

    I suspect Teflon might negate the electrical path that handles the
    corrosion.

    N
     
  13. Shouldn't matter as the Teflon flows and the joint has at least
    some metal-metal contact.

    --- sam | Sci.Electronics.Repair FAQ Mirror: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/
    Repair | Main Table of Contents: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/
    +Lasers | Sam's Laser FAQ: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/sam/lasersam.htm
    | Mirror Sites: http://repairfaq.ece.drexel.edu/REPAIR/F_mirror.html

    Note: These links are hopefully temporary until we can sort out the excessive
    traffic on Repairfaq.org.

    Important: Anything sent to the email address in the message header is ignored.
    To contact me, please use the Feedback Form in the FAQs.
     
  14. NSM

    NSM Guest

    | > I suspect Teflon might negate the electrical path that handles the
    | > corrosion.
    |
    | Shouldn't matter as the Teflon flows and the joint has at least
    | some metal-metal contact.

    I hate to take chances like that. Better to use plumbers' compound IMO.

    N
     
  15. WbSearch

    WbSearch Guest

    If I read my message properly, it stated 25 years ago. Maybe I'm missing
    something? It is not glass lined either. But this is one data point, not a
    judgement call for all situations.
     
  16. Guest

    Thanks everyone ! My son's gone down to the supply company to look at
    replacements. This was a huge help. Best to everyone. Lenny Stein,
    Barlen Electronics
     
  17. Jim Adney

    Jim Adney Guest

    I need to go looking for one of those....
    It wouldn't matter. The teflon doesn't prevent electrical contact. It
    just shreds and fills all the voids.

    -
     
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