Impact Wrench on Anode Rod??

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Old 02-14-19, 08:37 AM
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Impact Wrench on Anode Rod??

I have a propane-fired Ruud water with ~11 years of use on it. I thought I'd be a good doobie and change out the anode rod. The water heater is in the basement but I have some overhead clearance issues so I'm planning to use a segmented anode rod. I plan to cut the old rod into two pieces as it comes out. I'm expecting some issues unscrewing the old anode rod. Is there any reason I can't use a 1/2" pneumatic impact wrench on it? Thanks.
 
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Old 02-14-19, 08:44 AM
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I wouldn't change it at all. In all my years I have never changed one and easily get over 20 years of life from a water heater.
 
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Old 02-14-19, 12:15 PM
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I tried using one on my WH and it didnt have enough umph and ended up using a big breaker bar but give it a try!
 
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Old 02-14-19, 04:02 PM
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A recent episode of 'This ol House', the plumber, says the rod will safely unscrew if you change it every 5 years, but that otherwise, after 5 years, it may be seized in place and not removable. I would be excited to hear that you got it out so let us know! My second concern is that a impact wrench may delaminate the thin glass lining in the tank. I agree that 250 ft pounds of the average impact wrench will not be enought to break it free.
 
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Old 02-15-19, 03:59 AM
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I gun mine. Just replaced it yesterday in fact. We're on well water and I'm changing mine annually after having a premature failure (under warranty thankfully) on the last one. First time I changed it there was no way on earth to put enough torque on it to break it loose, TOH's opinion notwithstanding, so I've just gunned it since.
 
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Old 02-15-19, 07:29 AM
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Thanks for all the helpful replies.

Casual Joe: I suspect the mineral content of the water makes a big difference in how long the anode rod lasts and how corroded it becomes where it threads into the water heater. The water + dissolved minerals serve as the electrolyte of a battery. You must have very benign water.

Marq1 and airmark: I have an Ingersoll Rand 231G impact wrench. The reverse torque spec on it is 500 ft-lbs. If that's not enough I have two buddies that work on their own farm equipment. I wouldn't doubt one of them would have a 3/4" air wrench. The web tells me that the "glass" lining is actually porcelain enamel that is sprayed on and then fired at 1600 degrees F. This causes the chemicals in the enamel to react with the metal to create a chemically new compound. So the porcelain is really fused to the metal. I don't think it's likely to delaminate.

Tow Guy: How on earth did you figure out your anode rod had failed? We also have well water plus a water softener. It will be interesting to see what my anode rod looks like, assuming I can extract it.
 
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Old 02-15-19, 09:04 AM
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Casual Joe: I suspect the mineral content of the water makes a big difference in how long the anode rod lasts and how corroded it becomes where it threads into the water heater. The water + dissolved minerals serve as the electrolyte of a battery. You must have very benign water.

The water supply here is from rivers and not wells. 30 years ago I checked the ph level and found it to be around 11. With 7 or below ph I would think an anode rod might need to be changed every few years. I don't see mineral content of the water affecting an anode rod at all, but ph will definitely affect it.
 
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