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You'll have to disconnect the water lines from the top to pull the rod up out from within the tank. If you don't have enough clearance above the tank, you'll have to drain the tank, remove the venting and tilt it or lay it down to remove it. The sacrificial rods usually go bad prematurely on well water systems with hard water and causes a sulfur stench in your water. Here's a quick test to try before you do this: Go to the nearest faucet to the water heater and fill a glass full of cold water and another glass full of hot water and smell them. If the hot water is the only glass that smells like rotten eggs, it's most likely coming from your water heater due to your anode rod. Douglas
The smell is from the (anode rod not sure of this term is exact) in the water hater. Smells like rotten eggs. You have to remove the rod in the top of the water heater. This will void the warranty of the heater. The soot is due to flame adjustment. this should be done by a professional.