How to Change Your RV Water Heater Anode Rod

by The RV Guide 26. April 2012 00:57

Can you believe it’s already April? If you’re like many eager RV owners in the area, you’re probably getting your rig ready for another summer of adventures. And while you’re doing this, make sure you remember to check your RV water heater’s anode rod!

What the heck is an anode rod?

Suburban RV water heaters have a short metal rod called an anode rod that helps protect the water heater from corrosion. Also known as a sacrificial anode rod, it prevents the metal parts from corroding by corroding in their place. As you probably guessed, the anode rod has a pretty short lifespan – usually about one to two years. When it’s almost depleted, it needs to be replaced.

And don’t worry if you’ve never heard of your anode rod – we’ve met people who’ve been camping for 20 years and had no idea what it was!

How do I change the anode rod?

Before you change your water heater anode rode, you need to know where to look for it! You should know where your RV water heater door is – open it up and take a look inside. Toward the bottom, you should see a hexagonal bolt – that’s the anode rod. Unscrew it and inspect it. It’ll probably look like one of two things:

How to change RV anode rod

The one on the left shows a new anode rod. This one should last you, like we said, at least one to two years. The one on the right, clearly, has been through the ringer. Needless to say, it doesn’t have much room left to degrade – which could be a big problem for your water heater! Try to replace the anode rod before it gets down this far.

When you start replacement, turn off the electricity and gas going to the water heater. Next, turn on a hot water faucet to drain all the hot water from the tank. Once the water’s drained, shut off the water supply to the tank – remember, you’re about to pull out the plug!

The drain plug is 1-1/16”, so it should be easy enough to remove with a socket wrench.

Once the old rod is removed, it’s time to insert the new one. A lot of people have had success with wrapping the new threads in Teflon tape to prevent leaks. Tighten the new plug to about 8ft/lbs of torque – be sure not to over tighten it. NOTE: When you’re pulling out the rod or putting it back in, be careful to avoid cross threading – you don’t want to ruin your threads!

Once the rod is back in place, turn on the water to allow air to escape and mark the date that you replaced it. That’s it, you’re done!

If you need a replacement anode rod or any other RV parts, stop by Beckley’s parts department!

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RV Service & Maintenance