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)