With the amount of water a standard tank water heater deals with on a regular basis, it really shouldn’t last very long. The constant flow of water into and out of the tank should result in rust, followed by a rupture, within a couple of years. Why doesn’t it, then? How come many water heaters last up to 20 years without rusting out? The answer lies in a simple part called the anode rod. Read on to find out more about the anode rod, and how it protects your water heater.
What Is an Anode Rod?
An anode rod, sometimes called a sacrificial anode rod, is a long metal rod that is inserted into a water heater storage tank. The rod is often made of magnesium, aluminum, or zinc formed around a steel wire core. When the anode rod is in contact with the water in the tank, it attracts the ions in the water that normally cause rust. This is called electrolysis. The anode rod will degrade over time, as the ions interact with it instead of the tank lining. As long as the anode rod is degrading, the tank will be protected from rust. This protection doesn’t last forever, though.
Why You Need to Have the Anode Rod Checked
Eventually, the anode rod will degrade down to the steel wire at its core. When this happens, the rod will no longer be able to protect the water heater tank from rust. It takes just about a year for the average anode rod to degrade to the point where it needs to be replaced. That’s why you should schedule water heater maintenance at least once a year, so that your technician can check the anode rod and replace it if necessary.
If you need to schedule water heater maintenance, call The Sunny Plumber. We offer water heater maintenance services throughout Phoenix, AZ.