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Old 03-18-2009, 09:45 PM   #1
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My wife and I have a Suburban 6-gallon hot water heater in our travel trailer, which we bought new last summer. Back in November, I removed the hot water heater (HWH) anode to drain the heater in preparation to winterize the trailer. The anode which I removed is the original one from the manufacturer and is partially corroded, as expected, yet it appears that it could be used for a few more camping trips, before needing replacement. I have also purchased a replacement anode--the CamcoRV "RV Water Heater 9 1/2" Anode Rod," which the packaging says is an "aluminum 3/4" MPT for Morflo/Suburban Water Heaters." It is CamcoRV's product number 11563. From all that I have seen on this and other boards and on vendors' websites, this is one of the standard replacement rods for the Suburban HWH.

The problem I am having is that I cannot screw it all of the way into the HWH. It binds up and will not turn further than about six revolutions; there are about four more revolutions of thread at the head of the rod remaining at this point. It also leaves about four revolutions of threading on the HWH itself to go, before the rod would be totally screwed into the HWH. Interestingly, I have discovered the same problem in trying to screw the original anode rod back into the HWH. However, since the original rod has four fewer turns of threading than the replacement rod, it does come closer to being totally screwed back into the HWH. I would need to get it about 1 1/2 revolutions further into the HWH to have it fully screwed in.

Before attempting to screw either of these rods into the HWH, I carefully removed with vinegar some white deposits that had formed on the threads of the HWH that were closest to the tank. These had been exposed to the water in the tank during its use, since the OEM rod's threads did not extend far enough to cover them. Then, I carefully traced the groove of the threading from beginning to end in the HWH with a pick/stylus, removing any remaining deposits. Thus, by both visual and physical examination, the threads of the HWH appear to be in very good condition. Still, neither anode rod can be fully screwed in.

I have tried several methods to screw the rods in: using Teflon pipe tape, using plumber's lubricant, even chilling the rod in order to take advantage of potential expansion/ contraction differential. I have the appropriate socket and a very long breaker bar, and I am applying so much torque that I would be concerned about breaking something if I applied more.

I have read all the posts I could find on this board and two others discussing replacing the HWH anodes, and I have been mindful of all of the tips and pointers I have seen. I have particularly attentive to not cross thread the rod when inserting it into the HWH. In fact, the rods both turn very easily and have just the expected amount of play in them through all six turns, until they cannot be turned further.

So, with this background, I would appreciate any advice you could offer. In particular:

(1) Have you experienced a similar problem and how did you solve it?

(2) I believe that if I screwed either of these rods in as far as I have been able to--about six revolutions--after applying teflon tape or other gap sealer, there might not be any leak. Is it absolutely necessary for the anode to be screwed all the way into the HWH to perform its function, if it is screwed in enough not to leak?

(3) This fitting seems similar to what I have experienced in some pipe fittings, where the diameter of the fitting actually narrows, as is the case with tapered thread pipe threading. Is this fitting actually tapered? It certainly seems like it might be.

Thank you very much, in advance, for your advice.

Steve
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Old 03-18-2009, 10:59 PM   #2
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About the teflon tape and grease, be sure the instructions for the rod don't warn against using them or any other dielectric because it will impede electrical flow between the tank and the rod...
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Old 03-19-2009, 12:20 AM   #3
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Dear Steve,

When I replace the anodes on Suburban tanks they rarely screw in more than yours, I have used a 3/4 N.P.T tap to clean up the threads in the tank if you must, then I use the Teflon tape on installation. I prefer the anodes that come with a drain plug built into them. With anode replacement remember baseball, three strikes and your out...Three seasons then change it out. There is a huge variation these days in the thread specs on about everything. I have had to pitch stuff because the thread specs are wrong when sourced from China and Mexico and not just anodes. Shoot for no leaks rather than numbers of thread penetration, 6 threads is fine, the thread is a tapered thread anyway and gets larger (tighter) the farther in you thread the anode into the tank...When its tight on the wrench its tight on the thread too…Some very contentious owners have actually cracked the tank while replacing the anode with a breaker bar, especially with the after market anodes trying to at least get the same number of threads in as the original anode.

The Teflon thread tape will not inhibit the electron exchange the anode is designed for...Aluminum has so many electrons willing to jump ship it would regardless of extreme precautions not too. SOME composite anodes do swell…When you remove them the pressure of the threads bearing down on the anode is released and the anode will swell a very small amount. This anode is not to be considered a solid metal rod, inert and fixed in size, its not that hard, its soft and its sacrificial qualities to protect the tank makes it rather moody size wise. I have also run a die up the rod to re-do them to be less cantankerous with my N.P.T. pipe threader.

Harry
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Old 03-19-2009, 05:03 PM   #4
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I'd bet that the threads are tapered pipe threads. If you really work at it, you could split the threads where they go into the tank.

If the new anode doesn't leak, I'd not worry about it.

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Old 03-20-2009, 06:29 PM   #5
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Thank you, Pete, Harry, and Dan for your responses. They are very helpful. I will be content to get the anode screwed in far enough for it to be firmly seated and not leak.

Steve
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Old 05-14-2009, 09:43 AM   #6
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Dear Steve,

When I replace the anodes on Suburban tanks they rarely screw in more than yours, I have used a 3/4 N.P.T tap to clean up the threads in the tank if you must, then I use the Teflon tape on installation. I prefer the anodes that come with a drain plug built into them. With anode replacement remember baseball, three strikes and your out...Three seasons then change it out. There is a huge variation these days in the thread specs on about everything. I have had to pitch stuff because the thread specs are wrong when sourced from China and Mexico and not just anodes. Shoot for no leaks rather than numbers of thread penetration, 6 threads is fine, the thread is a tapered thread anyway and gets larger (tighter) the farther in you thread the anode into the tank...When its tight on the wrench its tight on the thread too…Some very contentious owners have actually cracked the tank while replacing the anode with a breaker bar, especially with the after market anodes trying to at least get the same number of threads in as the original anode.

The Teflon thread tape will not inhibit the electron exchange the anode is designed for...Aluminum has so many electrons willing to jump ship it would regardless of extreme precautions not too. SOME composite anodes do swell…When you remove them the pressure of the threads bearing down on the anode is released and the anode will swell a very small amount. This anode is not to be considered a solid metal rod, inert and fixed in size, its not that hard, its soft and its sacrificial qualities to protect the tank makes it rather moody size wise. I have also run a die up the rod to re-do them to be less cantankerous with my N.P.T. pipe threader.

Harry


What size socket does it take to get the anodes out?
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Old 05-14-2009, 01:07 PM   #7
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What size socket does it take to get the anodes out?

If my memory hasn't failed me entirely, I believe it is a 1-1/16" socket.
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:22 PM   #8
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Yes, 1-1/16 inch is the correct size.

Steve
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