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What Is an Anode Rod?

sunny-plumbersThere are a lot of plumbing fixtures and appliances that you are very familiar with. Your toilet, bathtub, sinks, dishwasher, etc. Your water heater probably does not get the same amount of thought as these fixtures and appliances do, because you are not really interacting with it directly every day, as you do with these others. You should still keep your water heater and its overall condition at the front of your mind, though.

After all, all of the hot water coming from your faucets and into your appliances is heated by this system. One of the best ways to protect your water heater is already in place: the sacrificial anode rod. If you are not familiar with what this phrase refers to, then today’s post is definitely for you. We know what you’re thinking. Why should I care, as long as my water heater works? Well, that is precisely the point. If your anode rod is not doing its job, then your water heater will wind up in, well, hot water!

Wait, What Is This Thing?

The anode rod, or sacrificial rod, is a rod that resides within your water heater tank. Basically, this rod is there to protect your tank itself from corrosion. We hope that you never have to learn this the hard way, but if your tank starts to corrode, it’s goodnight for that water heater. A corroded pipe is one thing, but there is no way to replace a tank that is rusting out.

The anode rod sacrifices itself in order to save the hot water tank from corrosion. Remember that water entering that tank is never really pure H2O. There are suspended particles in that water, along with things like magnesium and chlorine. These are not problematic in terms of your health, but they can lead to something called electrolysis in your water heater tank.

The conductivity of the water caused by the “impurities” within it (again, not harmful to you) can lead to this electrical process, which in turn leads to corrosion. While modern water heater tanks are glass lined, you have to remember that it’s impossible to ensure that every single bit of metal is protected by that lining, or that the enamel will not start to crack and split after years of exposure to very high temperatures.

The anode rod will draw corrosive materials and electrolytic process toward it, as opposed to toward the exposed metal of the tank. The anode rod itself will then corrode away in order to protect the tank. Now, the issue here is that eventually, that anode rod is going to be so corroded that it can no longer protect the tank!

So How Do I Replace the Anode Rod?

You don’t. Professional plumbers in Long Beach, like those here at The Sunny Plumber SoCal do. Typically, an anode rod should at least be inspected, if not replaced, every 3 years or so. If you’ve never had a plumber open up the tank to check in on your anode rod, you should definitely make this a priority. You really don’t want to find out the hard way that your anode rod is no longer viable. 



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