Things you need to know about the Water Heater Anode Rod

By Thornton Plumbing and Heating

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Blog Highlights:

  • The anode rod prevents rust and corrosion to take place within the other components of your water heater
  • Tank-less water heaters do not have an anode rod
  • The water acidity, the chemical reactions, and the heat can cause the water heater to corrode quickly
  • The anode rod sacrifices itself so that the water heater will last longer
  • The water heater must be maintained regularly and the anode rod must be checked and replaced when necessary
  • The anode rod must be replaced only with the help of a professional plumber so you can avoid damaging your water heating system

The water heater anode rod is an important part of the entire water heating system. Unfortunately, it can wear out after a couple of years.

The anode rod is what manufacturers have developed as one of the most important parts of a water heating system. Without it, the water heater can easily corrode and wear out over the years. Although the anode rod can help preserve the water heating system, this part itself will start to corrode after a few years. This is why the water heater needs to be maintained regularly, the anode rod needs to be checked from time to time, and it has to be replaced if needed. Tank-style water heating systems have anode rods, while tank-less ones do not have it.

Why is the anode rod important?

Water heaters are typically susceptible to rust and corrosion, owing to the fact that the system itself uses water and that heat is involved in its main processes. Since most systems use steel, you should know that over time, it will react to its constant contact with moisture, oxygen, heat, and water.

Before tank-less water heaters, one of the main problems that manufacturers had to address when it comes to providing a hot water system includes the following:

The water acidity – Water contained gases that dissolved naturally such as carbon monoxide. This made making hot water an acidic process.

The Chemical reactions – When steel comes into contact with moisture and oxygen, it can rust and corrode over time.

The heat – Water heaters need to reach a high temperature in order to work properly. Unfortunately, heat will speed up the chemical reaction and the rate of corrosion.

The materials – Most manufacturers use their own unique combinations of different materials when making the different components of the water heater. Most of these materials will create electrical conductivity which will also lead to the corrosion of the materials themselves.

With the help of the anode rod, the entire system can easily counter the common problems that the water heater typically encounters.  The anode rod is made from magnesium; it is designed to deliver electrons into the tank in order to help prevent corrosion within the tank and within its components. It acts as the “sacrificial lamb” simply because it will corrode faster than the tank itself, and because it takes the blunt of the corrosion in order to protect the water heating system.

Knowing how to maintain your water heater

The anode rod’s lifespan depends on many factors, this includes the quality of the rod, the chemistry of the water, the amount of water the household consumes, as well as the temperature of the water. Maintaining the water heater can help extend the life of the anode rod, it can also help make the entire system run more efficiently. The maintenance procedure includes flushing the tank annually, and asking technicians to do inspections for the water heater and anode rod every couple of years.

Replacing the Rod

Since the anode rod is usually placed in a complicated position, removing it or replacing it on your own is ill-advised. Many manufacturers would place the rod on top of the water heater away from the other components. It should also be noted that removing the rod usually needs specialized tools. The adjacent water supply pipes can also easily get damaged if you opt to do it on your own.

Installing the rod will also require a lot of room and overhead clearance, without it, the new rod might get broken. This is why plumbers drain the entire system first and then tip it to get enough space for proper installation.

Homeowners without the right experience and skills are advised not to do water heater maintenance and anode rod replacements on their own. The rod is very important when it comes to the lifespan and performance of the water heater. This is why it is best of you call a professional plumber whenever you need to have maintenance services for your water heater.

Have you tried to have your water heater’s anode rod replaced in the past? Tell us about your experience below.

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