Anode Rods and Why You Need Them

Anode RodClean, hot water is essential for homes and businesses. To make this possible a property owner must make an initial investment in a water heater. The price for a water heater can range anywhere from $200 to +$2000. In the turbulent economy we find ourselves in today anyone would be interested in protecting their assets. To avoid corrosion inside a water heater, which could potentially lead to water heater replacement, anode rods are used to interfere with the natural corrosive process. This process is called electrolysis. The way this process works is the anode rod is made out of a more corrosive material than the interior of the water heater which prevents your unit from becoming corroded and damaged.

Which Anode Rod You Need

An anode rod should be inspected and replaced if needed approximately every two years to preserve the quality and prolong the life of a water heater. Choosing the proper material when purchasing a new anode rod can enhance the effectiveness of electrolysis. Aluminum rods are best suited for areas that have hard water. Magnesium rods are best suited for areas with softer water. Many professionals will recommend the use of magnesium rods regardless of the water type. This is primarily because aluminum is known for producing harmful byproducts over time. Most of us have grown up eating or drinking things out of aluminum cans though. If you are using an aluminum anode rod and you drink straight from the tap, running cold water can help flush your system to ensure your drinking water is cleaner. Keeping that in mind, if your water is hard a magnesium rod may not last nearly as long. Hard water is known for being more corrosive. If a magnesium rod is used in hard water and it corrodes too fast the result may be water that smells of sulfur. This will likely lead to contacting a professional to replace your anode rod with an aluminum one and having your system flushed out.

When To Replace

So you have learned why you need an anode rod and what type you need but now you need to know what to look for when inspecting the rod. There are two common symptoms that indicate your rod needs to be replaced. It is either completely covered with white calcium build up or it has almost, if not completely, dissolved down to the center wire. In both cases it is a good idea to replace it. If the rod looks as if it is cracking and pieces may fall off into your tank eventually it should be replaced as well. Having loose pieces in your water heater can lead to internal damage of the unit and eventually require replacement. When the rod is covered in calcium it can longer serve its purpose because the corrosive material is no longer exposed to do its job. This can also lead to build up that is so thick anode removal can become difficult.

Hard or Soft Water

One way to tell whether you water is hard or soft is to fill up a glass of tap water and let it evaporate. If the glass is left with white rings you have hard water. You may notice white chalky build up on unclean facets over time if you have hard water as well. About 85% of the US has hard water. The Gulf Coast, Pacific Northwest, and New England are known for having water on the softer side. The Plains States and American Southwest are known for having much harder water. England is known for having some of the hardest water. Canada is known for having some of the softest water.

This article was written by The Plumber’s Choice, a maker of Anode Rods.

One Response to Anode Rods and Why You Need Them
  1. Jennifer Coleman
    January 2, 2013 | 5:28 am

    I have small pieces of black sediment coming out of my faucet when I turn the hot water on in the morning. It usually runs out like that for a couple of seconds and then it goes away. I doesn’t come out when the cold water is running. I’ve noticed it in the bathroom faucet and just recently in the kitchen faucet. The problem usually comes and goes. Could it be the anode rod going bad? My hot water heater is fairly new as I just purchased it at the beginning of 2012.

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