If we asked you to name the most important home comfort appliance in your home, what would you name? If you said your water heater, then we’re definitely on the same wavelength! The water heater within your home is a true workhorse. It provides you with the hot water you need to take a shower, wash dishes, do the laundry, and so much more. If you’re using a tank water heater, then there is a component that you rely on heavily for this to all happen, even though you’ve likely never heard about it–the anode rod.
No, the anode rod is not a household name, but it really is important for homes outfitted with storage tank type water heaters. It provides an essential function after all. The anode rod doesn’t last the entire lifespan of the water heater though, so it’s important for you to know the condition that yours is in. Read on to learn more!
What Is the Anode Rod?
This is literally a rod that is inserted into the tank of your water heater. This component is most commonly made of magnesium, and this is by design. Magnesium breaks down much quicker than steel does, and hot water tanks are made of steel. So, why would you want a magnesium rod breaking down in a steel tank? Well, so that the steel doesn’t!
Protecting the Water Heater Tank
Steel is a very useful material, but eventually, it rusts and corrodes. Chances are, you already know this. It’s pretty basic chemistry–water causes metals to rust. Well, your tank water heater’s manufacturer is aware of this as well, which is why the tank has a couple of lines of defense within it.
The first line of defense is a glass coating inside the tank. In a newer water heater, this lining prevents water from even coming into contact with the steel of the tank. However, it can start to crack over time, and when this occurs, the water within the tank can then reach the steel that it’s composed of, and this is when the anode rod “jumps into action.”
The rod begins reacting to the corrosive elements of the water more readily than the steel does. Therefore, the anode rod is consumed by this material first, therefore protecting the tank itself from corrosion. By the way, the anode rod is often referred to as the sacrificial anode rod. It’s easy to see why, right?
Since the anode rod breaks down over time, it also means that it won’t last forever, as we alluded to above. Keeping a good anode rod in place is vital to the protection of your hot water tank. Once the tank starts corroding, replacement in the only option.
So what does this mean? We don’t expect you to visually inspect the inside of your water heater, don’t worry! No rather this means you should be scheduling annual maintenance for your tank water heater, which means we will check the anode rod, and replace it when necessary!