How to Replace an Electric Water Heater Anode Rod



This DIY repair guide explains how to replace the anode rod in an electric water heater. The anode rod helps prevent tank corrosion. Natural micro-organisms and sulfates that exist in some water can react to the aluminum or magnesium anode rods in the hot water tank, creating a rotten egg smell. If your hot water begins to smell bad, replace the anode rod with a less reactive zinc-aluminum rod to help combat the smell.

Use these steps to replace the anode rod in Kenmore, State, A. O. Smith, Rheem, Reliance and Whirlpool water heaters.

Repair difficulty:
Time required:

Less than 30 min.

Parts Required

  • Anode Rod

For manuals, repair guides, and specific part recommendations, enter your model number.

Tools Required

  • Work gloves
  • 1-1/16" Deep well socket
  • Ratchet
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Pipe thread sealing tape

Before you begin

Wear work gloves to protect your hands.


 Warning: Undertaking repairs or maintenance to appliances or power equipment can be hazardous. Should you choose to undertake repairs or maintenance, you are assuming the risk of injury to your person or property. In an effort to reduce the risk, use the proper tools and safety equipment noted in the applicable guide and follow all instructions. Do not proceed until you are confident that you understand all of the steps and are capable of completing the repair. Some repairs or maintenance, however, should only be performed by a qualified technician.

How to Replace the Anode Rod in an Electric Water Heater

Step 1: Shut off the electricity

Switch the two house circuit breakers dedicated for the water heater to OFF.

Step 2: Drain the water heater

Turn off the cold water supply to the water heater.


Attach a garden hose to the drain valve located at the bottom of the unit and run the garden hose outside.


Open a hot water faucet in the house or flip the relief valve open on the water heater.


Open the drain valve and allow the tank to drain about 5 gallons of water and then close the drain valve and remove the garden hose.

Step 3: Remove the anode rod

Pry the plastic cap off from the top of the water heater covering the anode rod.


Remove the foam insulation covering the anode rod.


Unthread the anode rod and pull it up and out from the tank.

Step 4: Install the new anode rod

Wrap pipe thread-sealing tape around the threads of the new anode rod.


Thread the new anode rod into the tank and tighten firmly.


Reinsert the plastic cap.

Step 5: Fill the tank with water

Turn the cold water supply on to the water heater and allow the tank to fill with water.


When water begins to flow from the open hot water faucet, turn the hot water faucet off.

Step 6: Restore power

Flip the house circuit breakers to the ON position.