I obviously waited too long to replace the anode rod in my water heater, because after finally (with much cussing) getting the rod unthreaded, I found that it was so heavily corroded that it won't fit through the opening in the tank.

I can pull it up about an inch, and see the rod is there, hanging by a cable down its center. But the corrosion has expanded it to a larger diameter than the threaded opening, so I can't pull it any further out.

Is there any way to extract the rod at this point, or am I now just waiting for the tank to fail and buying a new heater?

Or would it be better to cut the old rod loose and let it rust in the bottom of the tank, and install a new rod?

Additional information in response to comments:

  • I don't have a record of when exactly I installed the heater, but it is marked with a manufacturing date of 2006. I haven't changed the anode since it was installed.

  • My water is fairly hard and I don't have a softener (Thinking this might affect how long the anode lasts)

  • you definitely got the most from this tank. 14 years is the golden years in tank life. Good maintenance keeps it heating.
    – ojait
    Dec 31, 2020 at 0:59

1 Answer 1


If its corroded and enlarged all the way to the bottom you may have to cut it loose. In the tank it will continue being dissolved by the minerals until there's nothing left. And while that's happening the new rod will be in place.

You can try wrenching it out and probably break off chunk's of anode. This also shouldn't be an issue unless you plan on flushing the tank in which case there may be debris blocking the port. But these pieces will eventually dissolve. too.

  • 1
    I'm worried if I force it out I'll damage the threads and not be able to get a good contact and pressure seal for the new anode. Am I overthinking this?
    – The Photon
    Dec 30, 2020 at 1:41
  • 1
    It's good to consider all outcomes. I don't think the Anode rod will damage the steel threads, but if you'd rather use finesse try breaking the larger sections with pliers. It may be thin enough for removal further down.
    – ojait
    Dec 30, 2020 at 1:57
  • 1
    If not cut the rod above the bulbous section and let it sink so you can get the new one in place.
    – ojait
    Dec 30, 2020 at 1:59
  • @ojait does the enlarged anode mean that the OP is removing the anode prematurely? Dec 30, 2020 at 4:52
  • 1
    @JimStewart -- for a 2006 tank, that'd be 14 years, which isn't doing too terribly badly, especially if the tank only has a 6 year warranty on it Dec 30, 2020 at 23:16

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