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 Post subject: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 20th, 2016, 5:52 pm 
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Joined: March 22nd, 2015, 7:45 am
Posts: 453
Location: Northern Virginia
One of this summer's project was to replace the hot water anode rod. Seems that the bolt is so rusted I cannot get it off, even with a breaker bar. I rounded it once while trying so I'm backing off on the brute force route. For the past 2 months, every single day, I spray it with PB Blaster and still it won't budge. Is it hopeless for me? I'm trying to avoid taking it to the shop so they can charge me big bucks just to remove it, but I don't know what else to do. Are there any other tricks I can try? Part of me just wants to get a new water heater...

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 20th, 2016, 9:10 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
Posts: 2029
Location: 1999 Concourse
On my original water heater, I had a similar problem, but it was with the relief valve. It was leaking but I COULD NOT get it loose. And unlike the anode, you could barely get a tool on it :x This was early on in my ownership and someone had mentioned a new water heater being something like 600 bucks. Egad, I kept trying. Well, after a while I decided to check for myself and as it turns out new one just like the original was something like $250 on Amazon Prime. I ordered one that day. Comes with all new everything, burner, anode, relief valve, tank.... nothing stuck or corroded, etc. (The door unit is separate though.)

Not saying you "should" buy a new one, but it's not a bad route, IMO.

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 21st, 2016, 9:44 am 
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Joined: October 12th, 2015, 5:54 am
Posts: 259
Location: Santa Cruz
My favorite penetrant is a 50/50 mix of ATF and acetone. The additive package in ATF is quite extensive and is a great lubricant. Just thin it out with acetone so it can wick into married fasteners. My other favorite tool for releasing stuck fasteners is a blowtorch. But that anode is probably magnesium so that's NOT a good idea :shock:
For under $300 new, I wouldn't spend much time on the old factory unit.

Anyone have experience with the engine coolant heat exchanger type?

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 21st, 2016, 6:03 pm 
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Joined: February 17th, 2015, 1:57 pm
Posts: 276
Location: Marysville, WA
One trick my Father in Law taught me was when brute force and WD40 wasn't enough to break something loose, was to tap on the breaker bar with a hammer to break loose rusted bolts. It has worked many times for me.

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 24th, 2016, 9:49 am 
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Joined: March 22nd, 2015, 7:45 am
Posts: 453
Location: Northern Virginia
I think I'll do some tapping and if that doesn't work, start pricing new ones. I bet that $600 cost is with dealer labor. How hard is it to do yourself? I can do $2-300 in cost for a new one.

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 24th, 2016, 12:01 pm 
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Joined: October 12th, 2015, 5:54 am
Posts: 259
Location: Santa Cruz
Well if it was mine, and it was functionally making hot/warm water, and the only hurdle was a suggested routine anode service, I'd leave it alone.
Do you have evidence that your inner tank is rusty?

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 24th, 2016, 1:17 pm 
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Joined: March 22nd, 2015, 7:45 am
Posts: 453
Location: Northern Virginia
I have no maintenance history on the rv and I'm the 3rd owner. I've had it for a little over a year and it worked last winter. Haven't fired it up this summer. I don't have any evidence of interior rusting (I guess it would come through the water lines?) but since I don't know when it was last changed and it's so rusted, I was concerned it might become an issue.

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: June 24th, 2016, 1:41 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
Posts: 2029
Location: 1999 Concourse
I can't remember, did your rig come from Texas? Mine did, and although it was stored in a warehouse and so fairly pristine, the water heater tank was a mess due to what I guess was lime scale (white powder). Part of some of the shielding was corroded away and the door was a mess (from dribbled crusty water). So for me when I couldn't get the relief valve off -- and with a new one being under $250 to my door -- I bought a new one.

Removing the old one is trivial, except for where Chinook annoyingly followed Suburban's instructions and bedded the door frame in silicone (thank goodness they only did that in VERY FEW places, ugh). So getting that off was annoying and destroyed it (it's just a relatively flimsy metal frame). I had already bought a new one along with the new water heater since the paint on it was corroded from what I suppose was hard water dribbling out the relief valve.

The only other "difficulty" on my rig is something optional: Chinook didn't do a perfect job installing it (not bad, just a couple of things). For example, they put screws/holes in on the bottom rim which is against Suburban's instructions because that surface is not supposed to have holes. Also the surround consisted of their typical strips of 1/2" plywood that were "attached" to the shell with bondo type mash. So they were coming off. They were also a bit thin for the purpose. I pulled them off and instead made 2 x 2 fir ones and epoxy coated them, preparatory to epoxy bonding them to the shell (in place of the 1/2" ply strips). I filled the bottom holes with thickened epoxy. With the thicker fir side pieces I could then put the screws where they were supposed to be on the sides instead (because enough meat). This all took less than an afternoon's worth of time.

Not saying you need to do any of this - it's all optional. Just figured you might be interested.

As it turns out, after repairing/prepping the water heater hole for the new heater, I realized, you know, I never use the water heater, so why carry around 6 gallons of water weight and take up that space. So at the point where I was ready to put the new heater in place, I just stopped and have it still in the new box in storage. But it would have been pretty minor to put it in. It's basically all modular plug and play. Having read your other posts, I don't imagine it would be too much trouble for you, if/when you ever want to replace it.

Oh, one other thing was the fittings going into the back (inboard side) of the tank from the PEX lines were a bit crusty. I would put in new ones along with the new heater (the old ones stayed crusted in to the old heater). But that's just hardware store type fittings, nothing exotic.

So to summarize, what's holding heater in:

Under the couch:

1) Velcro straps.

2) There is a control wire box that stays with the heater (new one comes with new box). That was just under the Velcro strap.

3) Propane line - simple 3/8" flare fitting

4) Two pex water lines with threaded fittings going into back of heater.

Outside:

1) Door/frame held to heater body with three long screws (and to Chinook shell with a bunch of #*?@* silicone).

2) Heater body held to surrounding Chinook with screws.

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: July 1st, 2016, 12:17 pm 
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Joined: March 22nd, 2015, 7:45 am
Posts: 453
Location: Northern Virginia
Perfect, thanks! Where did you end up buying the new one at? I suppose I could look at Amazon for a start since they have everything. I do like to shop around for the best price tho.

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 Post subject: Re: Anode Rod Bolt
PostPosted: July 1st, 2016, 12:51 pm 
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Joined: August 11th, 2014, 9:54 am
Posts: 174
Location: New Hampshire
Heat and vibrations (Hammer tapping on wrench) will help with the anode. If it's too rounded off try vice grips on it with the hammer tapping.

As for sourcing the 6 gallon hot water heater (Suburban SW6D), that unit is in a gazillion RVs. Very popular and even the little local (non-chain) RV parts/service shops will have several of them in stock. They are $299 or less.

To anyone: Always use a high quality socket in order to avoid rounding off bolts (like an anode end). It does make a difference in getting the job done and in preserving the hardware. I say that not to be a tool snob but to share a valuable lesson learned over many years of wrenching.

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