Storage water heaters contain an unsung hero: the anode rod. The anode rod sacrifices itself, taking on corrosion that would otherwise damage a water heater’s steel tank.

Without an anode rod, steel tanks would rust and corrode within a few years. Instead, with the help of these little devices, a water heater may last 10 years or more. Tankless water heaters don’t have or need an anode rod.

When an anode rod corrodes after a few years, your water heater is left without protection. To keep the tank safe, have the rod inspected every 2 or 3 years. If the rod is corroded, a plumber can replace the part.

Tanks with warranties of about 6 years have one anode rod. Tanks that have a 12-year warranty may come with either an extra large anode rod or two standard ones. Commercial quality tanks may have as many as five rods.

How Does An Anode Rod Work?

Most anode rods have a steel core surrounded by magnesium. The rods attach to the top, inside of the tank.

Magnesium corrodes more quickly than steel. That means the anode rod will begin corroding earlier than the water heater’s steel tank.

As the rod corrodes, it releases electrons. The electrons change the water. The new make up of the water helps prevent corrosion in the steel tank.

Anode rods corrode faster or slower depending on several factors. Mineral or chemical composition of the water in your home is one factor. The amount of water you use makes a difference.

Heat will also affect corrosion, speeding it up. Water heater thermostats can be set as high as 140F, though many consider between 120F and 125F to be the safest temperature to prevent the danger of scalding.

Maintain Your Water Heater

A well-maintained water heater works better and can last longer. Water heaters need periodic flushing to get rid of sediment that accumulates. Flushing can extend the life of your water heater and may also help the anode rod last longer by improving the heater’s efficiency.

You should have the water heater inspected and maintained by a professional. The anode rods need to be inspected at least every three years.

The anode rod can be hard for an amateur to find or replace. Replacing the anode rod requires skill and specialized tools. Most homeowners don’t have the knowledge to take apart a water heater and make repairs.

Contact Meticulous Plumbing to schedule an appointment for water heater maintenance, repair or replacement.

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