Have you checked your water heater’s anode rod recently? Here’s why you should

What is a water heater anode rod?
Have you ever wondered when water can practically corrode every metal it comes in contact with, how does it not corrode the internal metal lining of a water heater tank? The answer to that is ‘water heater anode rod.’

Everyone knows that water corrodes most metals and steel most noticeably gets corroded when in contact with water. The introduction of a water heater anode rod in your water heater tank is responsible for ensuring that your water heater surface remains corrosion free. It is a fact of nature that when you introduce a metal structure (rod) of more ‘vulnerable’ metal, i.e., a metal that can be easily corroded in an environment, the water reacts with it and leaves the steel interiors of a water heater tank unaffected. The sole purpose of the anode rod is to function as an entity that is continuously corroded by the water in your water storage tank. The absence of this anode will cause your water heater to rust out rapidly. The importance of having an anode rod in your water heater tank is evident. Having said that, one needs to keep checking if the anode is doing its sacrificial ordeal to keep your water tank rust free.

Checking and replacement of anode rods
Knowing that anode rods are continually eroded by the water content of your water heater you may be wondering how frequently you need to replace them. The answer to that is partially dependent on the kind of water you get.

Usually, soft water tends to erode the rod within a year, while hard water may take a bit longer. It is best to maintain a regular frequency when it comes to checking your anode rod. Try to make it a habit of checking on your anode rod every year. Your water heater owner’s manual should be able to tell you where the anode rod is located, and you may be able to do it yourself if it is accessible. However, if you aren’t sure about its location, it is best to get a professional plumber to have a look at it during your annual water heater maintenance schedule. After all, you don’t want to try something that could potentially damage your water heater. If you notice that your anode rod has large portions of wire at its core, it is an indication that the rod needs to be replaced.

Choosing the right kind of rod: Magnesium or aluminium?
Once you have determined that your water heater anode rod needs to be replaced, the next question you may find yourself dealing with is, which rod is better: aluminium or magnesium?
Although anode rods are readily available for purchase at most home improvement stores, you can also get one from your plumber if you are not able to find it.

The price range on these rods ranges from $15 to $60. Although anode rods are pretty standard in size, their materials vary and you may need to know the benefits and cons of choosing one material over others.

Pros and cons of Magnesium

  • Magnesium anodes offer better overall protection than other materials
  • Their shelf life is shorter compared to other materials
  • Can be slightly expensive compared to their counterparts
  • Occasional poor reaction with certain water chemistry can lead to sulphur like odour

Pros and cons of Aluminum

  • Aluminium is usually found in combination with zinc in anode rods
  • Tend to be less expensive
  • Lasts longer than their magnesium counterpart
  • Offer substandard levels of protection as compared to magnesium
  • Effective in neutralizing odours that arise from metallic contact with water
  • Many homeowners are concerned about aluminium levels in their drinking water though you may not consume water from your hot water tank

Choosing the right anode for your hot water tank can be confusing, but Blue Planet Plumbing can help. Their team of experts can guide you in choosing the right water heater and accessories so that you can experience the benefits for the long term. Get in touch today to get your questions answered.


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