Water Heater Rescue: Know-How, Solutions, Parts graphic

The Basics > Know-How

What you'll find on this page: you'll learn how to do an external inspection of your heater if you wonder what kind of shape it's in and whether you want to do more, or just buy a new one. It also walks you through what's involved in changing an anode or swapping out a drain valve and dip tube.

Buy a combo magnesium anode to extend your heater's life Button link to buy a combo magnesium anode rod

This is where you can find out what's involved if you want to check the condition of your water heater and possibly retrofit it for longevity. You can also use this page to prefit a new water heater.

We think the keys to that are having a tank with an easily accessible, functioning anode rod, little or no sediment, and a functioning temperature/pressure relief valve. It should be firmly strapped against earthquakes, if that's an issue, and 18 inches off the floor where it won't ignite fumes. (Water heaters built to the FVIR standard of 2004 might not require being raised; check your codes)

If it's inside, it's sitting on a drain pan so that if anything does leak, it won't flood your living room, or perhaps your garage -- and the pan has a drain line that goes somewhere safe. It's plumbed with plastic-lined nipples, and copper flex lines on both nipples and the T&P valve. The plumbing around it is in good shape, and water isn't dripping onto it from overhead plumbing.

But First a Caveat:

Electricity is dangerous. Gas can be dangerous. Water pressure, if not dangerous, can cause household disasters.

There is considerable information below on how to work on your water heater, however, you are responsible for how you use it. If you have the slightest doubt of your ability, get a professional. People grump about what plumbers charge, but what you're paying for is a truckload of specialized tools and someone with the expertise to use them if things don't go right. That often happens with plumbing. When it does, the plumber's fee becomes a bargain. And that said, people have occasionally encountered plumbers who say, "It can't be done," or "It shouldn't be done." Not all of them have heard of water heater maintenance. Have them contact us if that happens.

This is how our Know-How page begins. You'll learn how to inspect your water heater to see if it's worth "rescuing." We'll also show you step by step how to remove and replace your anode, as well as how to install a sediment flush kit without draining your tank or flooding your house. You'll learn all about anodes, dip tubes and drain valves. You'll also discover strategies for removing stubborn anodes. And, on another page in this section, Anode Buying Guide, we teach you which anode you need and how to figure out which anode you have. To access these, you need a subscription:

When you get your password, you can go to the page like this one where the missing information, along with many pictures, is revealed. If you already have a password, go here.