Water Heater Maintenance: Change the Sacrificial Anode

If you own your own home, read about this important maintenance tip!

This week, the water heater in Megan’s house burst after 12 years of service. This reminded me of something I had mentioned a few years ago: periodically changing the anode in the hot water heater.

This is an important, inexpensive, a DIY project (if you’re into small home projects) that can save you a thousand bucks by dramatically extending the life of your water heater, and any plumber that’s never heard of it is either dumb or has a hidden agenda (IE: making more money when your system fails).

A new anode costs about $30 so having someone come in and replace it should cost less than $150. It’s way cheaper than replacing the hot water tank… or worse, the giant mess a burst tank can cause.

Watch this video from This Old House where they inspect and change two different anodes. In one case, the anode was covered in calcium deposits from hard water (do you have hard water??). In the other, the anode was completely eaten away… and the tank had burst!


  1. Tim Brown says:

    It is worth noting that if your water emits a strong odor (i.e.: rotten egg as from sulfur) replace the anode with one made of aluminum. In some cases, it works very well.

  2. lee says:

    Tim, thanks for the tip. I haven’t had that issue but others may have.

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