Wait, you don’t know what your anode rod is? That’s okay—not many homeowners do, and The Sunny Plumber is here to clear things up.
The anode rod is just one component of possibly the most important appliance in your home—your water heater! The water heater is a true workhorse. It provides you with the hot water you need to bathe, wash dishes, do laundry, clean, and so much more. If you’re using a storage tank water heater, then you are using an anode rod.
What Is an Anode Rod?
We get it—this isn’t a common household name. But it provides an essential function in protecting your tank water heater from harm in the form of corrosion. This component also doesn’t last forever, so it’s important that you know how your anode rod is doing—or rather, it’s important that you schedule annual maintenance so we can check and see how it’s doing.
This component is most commonly made of magnesium, which breaks down more quickly than steel does, which is what your water heater is made out of. So why would you want a magnesium rod breaking down within your steel water heater tank? Well, because it breaks down and corrodes when water interacts with it so that your steel tank doesn’t.
Protecting Your Water Heater Tank
Steel is a very useful material, but eventually it rusts. Chances are, you know water causes metals to rust. Your tank water heater’s manufacturer knows this as well, which is why the tank has the anode rod as part of its line of defense. There are a few other things that protect the tank, too …
The first is the glass coating in the tank. In a newer water heater, this lining prevents water from even coming into contact with the steel of the tank. However, due to natural wear and tear, this lining starts to crack. When this occurs, the water within the tank can then go to work on the steel it’s made from. This is when the anode rod kicks in.
It responds to the corrosive elements in the water more readily than steel does, so it’s consumed by this material first. This means that your tank itself is protected from corrosion. Since the rod breaks down over time, it means that it doesn’t last forever. As we mentioned above, this makes maintenance important—checking the condition of the rod and replacing it as needed will allow you many more years of effective water heater use.
Let Us Keep Your Water Heater in Good Shape
Routine maintenance, as we mentioned, is a good investment for not only your water heater but your entire plumbing system. Even if you skip maintenance for your water heater, we do at least recommend that you have a professional check on the condition of your anode rod once every few years. Once it gets past a certain point of degradation, we’ll replace it so your water heater remains functional.