What is a water heater anode rod?
Water naturally corrodes several kinds of metals — steel is one of the most noticeable. This might be disturbing to hear when you own a water heater anode rod, but we are happy to share that if you add a rod of metal that can be corroded easily into the water heater’s environment, the water will react to that and leave the steel unaffected.
That is the sole objective of an anode rod—it is a “sacrificial” rod of metal that exists in the storage tank to be destroyed over time by the water. Without this anode rod, your water heater would rust very quickly.
Checking & replacing an anode rod
The complete life of the rod varies depending on whether you have hard or soft water. However, soft water does have a more enormous appetite for metals, possibly dissolving the rod within a year.
You must make a habit of checking the anode rod at least yearly. If your house has a water heater that allows you to quickly access the rod, you will be able to do this yourself. However, if you are not sure about the model of your water heater or if you can’t locate or remove the anode rod, it is best to hire a Lone Star Water Services water heater expert before you accidentally damage the heater trying to get it out.
Note:- If the rod in your water heater has deteriorated to the point where substantial portions of the wire at its core are visible, it’s time to replace it.
Magnesium or aluminum?
Anode rods can be purchased from any home improvement store, or you can get one from your local plumber. Anode rods typically range in value from $15 to $60. One of the significant differences you will see among anode rods is in the material they are made from. Below are the pros and cons of the most popular varieties:
- Magnesium contributes better protection and strength overall, though it does have a shorter life span and is more expensive than other materials. Occasionally, it can react poorly with specific water chemistry to produce a sulfur-like smell.
- Aluminum is usually infused with zinc in the anode rods present in the water heater. These anode rods tend to be less expensive than their counterparts and last longer, though they do not offer the same level of protection. Unlike magnesium, aluminum anode rods can actually neutralize smells in the water. Some house owners are concerned about the levels of aluminum in their drinking water (though typically, no one drinks water from their hot water tank).
If you are unsure which is right for you, your local plumber can suggest an option based on your home’s water chemistry.
Flushing out sediments
Now you must be wondering—if an anode rod fully dissolves in water, where does all that metal go? Unfortunately, most of this ends up as sediment at the bottom of your water storage tank, which, if left to build up too long, can hamper your water heater’s performance and eventually travel through your pipes and cause issues throughout your plumbing system.
Note:- Even if you didn’t have the rod, sediment would still build up—it would just be rust scraps/particles from the inner sides of your tank!
To avoid problems with sediments in your water and to keep your water heater efficient, you will need to get your water heater flushed out regularly—probably once a year.
Have other questions about your water heater? Check out our dedicated page for water heaters. If you are having specific issues that need immediate attention, you can contact Lone Star Water Services any time during the day or night!