Fusing of anode threads and other details

The Tank Fusing of anode threads and other details

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    Good day:
    Yesterday I knew nothing about water heaters, and consumer reports was, for once, a disappointment. So thank you for all the helpful information on your site. With a $650 repair bill to fix the gas control valve & thermocouple / pilot assembly on a four-year+ old State GS6-50-YBRT water heater that was replaced for tank failure under a 6-year warranty after a prior four+ years of service… I wondered if fixing it was even cost effective, if it wouldn’t be better to consider a full-on replacement…. In addition, that is one of two 50-gal water tanks and the other one is pushing nine years old… so I’m also wondering if it might also be better to just replace them both at once. And if I was going to go that route, then I wanted to be sure the expense would be worth it. Which means research so I could make an educated purchase.

    The plumber did not suggest any repairs to this older tank – and he said it is in good visual condition. However, my follow-up question (armed by your site) was whether he could comment on the sacrificial anode, and he said it could not be inspected at this time in the water heater’s life. I then asked if the correct inference was that it was far gone enough the aluminum had bulked up so that it could no longer be extracted.

    He said yes, but also because the heating and cooling of the water heater fuses the anode threads to the water heater and they all get that way towards the end…. I doubt he actually tried to look at the anode – he would have had no reason to and I didn’t know enough to ask the question until after he’d left so I’m assuming he gave an educated opinion based on what he’d seen elsewhere. However, I haven’t seen anything on your pages addressing fusing of the anode threads.

    So my first question is this: What would cause fusing of anode threads on an older water heater? Would this be due to rust? Or is it the aluminum by-product acting as a glue? Is there any cause that would not be an indication it is too late to save that water heater with your suggestions? Or is it just a matter of (not-long-now) time before we are facing a replacement of that one?

    My main, big-picture question is: Would the gas control valve repairs recommended by the plumber + anode rod replacement recommended by you have a reasonable chance of extending the life of either or both water heaters by at least a few years? Or should I be seriously considering replacing them both at this point, and then starting clean with new heaters?

    Other factors that may or may not be relevant: We do use a water softener and we do live in a relatively hot and humid area. But sediment was a contributing cause to the tank failure four years ago…. we aren’t always as on top of the water filter salts as we ought to be and we’ve been terrible about draining either of them since, I’m ashamed to say. Also, the water heaters were originally piped sequentially (ie with one doing the workhorse heating and the other mostly maintaining temperatures) we switched this to a parallel arrangement when we replaced the one four years ago, and I don’t know which was which, but I do suspect the longer lived heater did so because it was maintaining temperature in the original configuration.

    You are understandably quick to redirect newbies asking questions that are addressed on your webpages, but I can honestly claim I went over them pretty thoroughly, so… if I am asking a question answered elsewhere, the answer was buried deeply enough I was unable to dig it up or perhaps my own ignorance led me to miss it, so I would be grateful for you to provide a link to the correct location if this was already addressed on the main site.

    Randy Schuyler

    It’s remarkable the interesting ideas plumbers get about water heaters. No, the threads don’t get fused. That said, sometimes it can be very hard to remove an anode — even a brand new one in a tank fresh off the shelf. But people do it all the time or I wouldn’t be selling any anodes. Occasionally people have to return one because they couldn’t remove the factory anode, but that’s relatively rare.

    Gas controls should not fail after only four years. That’s something that usually happens to old heaters like mine.

    If your tank has an aluminum anode, that would be a reason to drain it because those create a lot of gunk. Except that draining is worthless. In that event, you should install my curved dip tube, which will make the process efficient. Softeners mostly eliminate buildup from mineral sediment. Softeners can also chew through sacrificial anodes so fast that a tank fails well under warranty. That’s where a powered anode shines because it doesn’t get used up with use.

    We prefer sequential installation because balancing in parallel is tricky and often one heater does all the work and the other just sits there.
    Randy Schuyler


    saga2 wrote:

    In addition, that is one of two 50-gal water tanks and the other one is pushing nine years old… so I’m also wondering if it might also be better to just replace them both at once.

    Hi saga2,
    May I ask why you are using two tanks rather than one appropriately sized tank?
    Way too often, the builder wants to save a few bucks and installs two commodity sized water heaters rather than one water heater properly sized for the installation. Moreover, the economy minded (not energy efficiency minded) builder may have plumbed them inappropriately from the start. If your heaters are plumbed using reverse return plumbing that is good, if not you are paying for more standby loss than required and you are not getting the heated water volume that you might think you are.
    The short answer is use _one_ tank for your hot water needs not two. Higher initial cost, lower life cycle cost.


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