What is the Sacrificial Anode Rod?

Monday, April 6th, 2015

Any system that contains metal and deals with water is going to encounter corrosion issues eventually. This is especially true for water heaters, many of which store and heat water unceasingly from the time they are installed to the time they expire. So, why are water heaters still capable of lasting over a decade? With the amount of water they process on a daily basis, they should be rusted out husks long before then. The answer is one simple component: the sacrificial anode rod. Let’s take a look at what the sacrificial anode rod does, and why you should keep a close eye on yours.

What it is

The sacrificial anode rod is a long metal rod, made of magnesium or aluminum, which is inserted into the storage tank of the water heater. The rod is formed around a steel wire, which helps it to keep its structural integrity. There are tankless varieties of water heaters that don’t use anode rods, but the vast majority of water heaters use storage tanks. While the anode rod is in the tank, it will degrade instead of the tank itself. This is a large part of what gives water heaters their longevity. However, the anode rod does not last forever.

Why You Need to Monitor Your Anode Rod

Eventually, the anode rod will degrade to a point where it can no longer protect the tank. When that happens, the lining of the tank will begin to rust. If the tank is allowed to rust long enough, it may rupture and need to be replaced. So it is very important that you check the state of your anode rod at least once a year. If the rod looks to be nearing the end of its usefulness, it will need to be replaced. If you aren’t sure how to check or replace your anode rod, any professional will be happy to do it for you.

If you would like to know more about how the sacrificial anode rod protects your water heater, call Rooter Man. We provide water heater services throughout Albany.

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