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Maintenance to Save Money - replace your caravan Hot Water Anode annually

Thanks to Mark, one of our very special customers for this article

Everyone should replace their sacrificial anode at least annually (except those with a stainless-steel tank) if they want to prevent the expense of changing their hot water system. We suggest picking an easy date to remind you of this every important maintenance – such as your anniversary, birthday or perhaps Easter.

The sacrificial Anode is usually made of magnesium or aluminium and is designed to be attacked by aggressive water first so that your water tank is protected.

When you remove your anode and compare it to the new one, you will see that it has probably deteriorated by more than 50% to 75% of its original size. Following are some simple steps on how to change your Anode but if you need more detail – search on how to do it on the web, You Tube will probably give you detailed steps.

How to replace a caravan hot water system anode

You will need:

  • A new anode (check that it is the correct size)
  • Teflon (white plumbers) tape
  • A socket wrench of the correct size – some anodes require a special tool to remove them


  • Turn off hot water heater the night before to allow it to cool
  • Turn off water pump inside then depressurise the pump by running the hot water tap
  • Open the external hot water hatch
  • The anode is usually located at the very bottom of the hot water unit
  • Wrap the thread of the new anode with Teflon tape (not too thick) so it’s ready to install
  • Remove the anode by attaching the socket wrench and turning anti-clockwise.  Careful – water may spurt out (along with some coloured muck)
  • Drain the tank and flush by turning on the pump to flush water through
  • As soon as it runs clear, turn off the pump, insert the new anode, turning clockwise, tighten to manufacturers specification.
  • Turn water pump on and then hot water tap. Be careful as water may come out in spurts if air has been trapped in the tank or water lines.  It will take some time for the storage tank to refill before water comes out of the hot water tap – turn it off.
  • Bleed the air out by holding up the valve in the hot water service until water flows continuously.
  • Turn on power/gas to hot water service
  • Tidy up and order your next spare anode.

For caravaners who have a Suburban Hot Water System the following Product Bulletin was circulated in Oct 2018 from the distributor Coast to Coast RV.


"Suburban RV Hot Water Systems have an anode rod which absorbs all the corrosive action of hot water. The life of the anodes, which are a low value replacement part, varies with water quality. Anodes must be inspected periodically and replaced if below 50% of the original diameter. Only use genuine Suburban anode rods, use of other anodes may damage your water heater and void the warranty.

An increasing number of Suburban Hot Water Systems (HWS) are being fitted with anode rods that are not genuine Suburban products. Did you know that there are many anode rods on the market?

Cheaper imitations are not the best fit for a Suburban HWS. Not only are some imitations the incorrect length which could crush the cold water inlet collet, but you also need to be wary of the thread type at the head of the rod. 

Suburban HWS’s are made in the USA and they use the NPT style thread for the anode. Most other parts of the world use a BSP style thread. If a BSP threaded anode rod is fitted into a Suburban HWS it will do irreversible damage to the pitch on the internal thread of the tank and cause future leaks.

Some imitations are also made from the wrong alloy composition which may make the tank smell like rotten eggs and also leave a green jelly-like compound in the bottom of your tank.

The best way to ensure you don’t damage, shorten the life and void the warranty of your Suburban HWS is to only use Genuine Suburban Anode Rods which have been designed specifically by Suburban for Australian conditions.”

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