The Role Of Anode Rods In Water Heater Maintenance

January 12, 2024

The Role Of Anode Rods In Water Heater Maintenance

Anode rods might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about home maintenance, yet they play a pivotal role in ensuring your water heater operates effectively and efficiently. Over time, the quality and efficiency of your water heater may begin to decline. Minerals present in the water can corrode the tank and negatively impact the heater’s performance.

If the situation worsens, you might need to get help from a reliable HVAC contractor. Regular inspection and maintenance of the anode rod by professionals can ensure your hot water supply remains steady and reliable.

In this blog post, we will get into the intricacies of anode rods, explaining their function, their relevance in water heater maintenance, and how they can contribute to a reduction in your energy bills.

What Is An Anode Rod, And How Does It Work?

An anode rod is a long metal rod, usually made of magnesium or aluminum, that is inserted into the water heater tank. Its function is to protect the steel tank from corrosion by sacrificing itself. Anode rods attract the corrosive elements in the water, such as iron, limestone, and other minerals, and gradually corrode instead of the tank.

This process is called cathodic protection, and it is widely used in various industries to prevent metal deterioration. Anode rods are also known as sacrificial anodes because they sacrifice themselves to protect the more valuable metal.

However, this also means that anode rods have a limited lifespan and need to be replaced periodically to ensure the water heater’s performance and durability. They play a vital role in water heater maintenance.

Understanding Corrosion In Water Heaters

Corrosion is the arch-nemesis of water heaters. The combination of metal, water, and oxygen creates a breeding ground for corrosion. In the absence of protective measures, the water heater tank becomes susceptible to rust and decay, ultimately leading to leaks and a shortened lifespan.

Role Of Anode Rods In Corrosion Prevention

This is where the anode rod steps in. By being made of a more reactive metal than the tank itself, the anode rod willingly corrodes, diverting the corrosive elements away from the tank. In essence, it sacrificially protects the tank, extending its life and ensuring the water heater functions optimally.

Signs Of Anode Rod Depletion

Now that we understand the importance of anode rods, it’s crucial to recognize when they need attention. Here are some signs that your anode rod may be depleted:

Rust-Colored Water

If you notice rust-coloured water coming from your taps, it’s a clear indication that corrosion is occurring within the tank. This could mean the anode rod is no longer effectively protecting the tank.

Strange Odours

A foul smell emanating from your hot water could be a sign of bacterial growth in the tank, facilitated by the corrosion of the anode rod.

Strange Noises

Popping or cracking sounds are often attributed to excessive sediment buildup in your water heater, resulting from a compromised anode rod.

Anode Rod Replacement

The frequency of anode rod replacement depends on several factors, such as the type of anode rod, the quality of water, the water usage, and the water temperature. Generally, anode rods last about 3 to 5 years, but they can corrode faster or slower, depending on the conditions.

Therefore, it is recommended to inspect the anode rod annually during water heater maintenance and replace it when more than 6 inches of the core wire is exposed at either end of the rod

Professional Maintenance Tips

While DIY checks and replacements are valuable, some aspects of water heater maintenance are best left to the professionals. Periodic professional inspections can uncover issues that might go unnoticed during regular checks. Certified technicians can provide expert insights and perform maintenance tasks that require specialized knowledge.

Consider scheduling professional water heater maintenance at least once a year to supplement your DIY efforts. This proactive approach can catch potential problems early, saving you from unexpected breakdowns and ensuring your water heater operates at peak efficiency.

About Us

Norcan Heating and Air is a family-owned and operated company that has been serving the Edmonton area since 2008. We offer a wide range of plumbing, heating, and air conditioning services, including water heater installation, maintenance, and repair.

We have a team of licensed, insured, and experienced technicians who can handle any plumbing or HVAC issue you may have. To get a quote for your HVAC project, get in touch with us today.


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