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Archive for September 24th, 2009

Why You Need a 6-Point Socket to Remove a Water Heater Anode Rod

Anode rod head with sockets

Anode rod head with sockets

As mentioned there, removing a water heater anode rod generally requires considerable, umm, persuasion. I used a 12-point socket wrench, as I didn’t have a 1-1/16″ impact wrench on hand. Now I do…

The first pic shows the head in front of the two sockets; the 6-point socket on the right will do a much better job of not ruining the anode rod bolt head because it grips along the entire length of all six sides.

Now, in general, you don’t care about ruining the head, because the rod’s pretty much not going to be there by the time you remember to check it. What you do not want: the wrench rips the corners off the head before loosening the thread.

Goobered anode rod head

Goobered anode rod head

Goobered anode rod head - side view

Goobered anode rod head - side view

The thread on this anode rod was in great shape (I’d wrapped it in Teflon tape the last time it was out), but it was still firmly jammed in place. These pix show what the 12-point socket did to the bolt head during the beatdown.

Bottom line: right now, while you’re thinking about it, buy yourself the nice 6-point 1-1/16-inch impact socket you’ll need to extract the anode rod from your water heater. If you don’t already have a honkin’ big breaker bar, get one of those, too; this is no job for a sissy 3/4″-drive ratchet wrench.

The real problem is holding the water heater in place while you beat on the breaker bar. I have yet to see a good solution.

Offset Tank - 2009

Offset Tank - 2009

That husky 6-point socket isn’t going to fit into the stupidly offset hole in the top of the water heater, even after applying the nibbling tool to get the 12-point socket in place, but that’s in the nature of fine tuning…

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