We can all agree that a water heater is a necessity in every home. But unless you are taking proper care of your home's water heater, that pleasant event might be in jeopardy. In addition to draining and flushing the holding tank, there is one other component that needs to be inspected to ensure that it is still doing its part to protect your water heater tank.
Meet The Anode Rod
The anode rod is inserted through an opening in the outside of your water heater tank so that it touches the tank’s inner wall. This rod is usually a steel core wire coated with another metal such as magnesium, aluminum, or zinc. And the sole purpose of this tiny component is to keep your water heater tank from rusting.
How An Anode Rod Works
Corrosion is the nemesis of all things made of metal. It is the natural electrochemical process that oxidizes metal and causes it to deteriorate. The process occurs when electrons flow away from the metal by way of an electrolyte. And if it is out of control, rust can quickly result in a compromised water heater tank that must be replaced.
The process of the metal breaking down is always happening. But an anode is your way to fight back. The rod is made of a more active metal than the metal it is designed to protect. So when you insert the anode into the tank in a position that allows it to contact the water and the tank wall, it losses more material than the less active steel used to make the water heater tank. In the course of doing its job, it rusts away and disappears. So the critical part of this is that you need to inspect that anode each year to be sure it is still capable of doing its significant job.
Checking A Water Heater Anode
Your water heater owner's manual should provide you with the location of your unit's anode. If you cannot locate the manual, most manufacturers' websites have a downloadable version of current manuals. From the outside of the tank, the anode looks like a hex nut. It can be loosened with a set of channel locks and pulled straight out of the tank.
Remove the anode rod carefully to inspect it. If you see small holes and pitting, don't be alarmed. That is a sign that the rod is doing its job. However, if you can see the majority of the steel cable that makes up the rods inside, it is time to replace it. Most of the aluminum or magnesium coating has been removed. And it is no longer protecting your water heater tank. These rods have a life expectancy of about five years, but that can vary according to the quality of your water.
You can purchase a replacement rod at your local hardware store and insert it where you have removed the old one. Most water heaters use a standard 3/4" NPT connection, so the process is as simple as changing a light bulb.
If you are not comfortable inspecting the anode rod on your water heater, a call to (818) 740-6830 is your best option. A Turbo Plumbing & Rooter licensed plumber will inspect the anode rod in your water heater and make a recommendation if it needs to be replaced. With years serving the community, you know that you can trust the Turbo Plumbing & Rooter team to provide you with candid evaluations and cost-effective solutions for all your plumbing needs.