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Why It’s Important to Check Your Water Heater’s Anode Rod

Tips & Advice

For those who aren’t professionals, water heaters are extremely complicated pieces of equipment. Although you use your water heater every day, how much does the average person really know about the various components that allow this appliance to operate smoothly? One part that you may not have heard of but that is extremely important for successful water heater operation is the anode rod.

If you have dealt with hard water before, you know how it can stain items throughout your house, in addition to causing steel fixtures and even your larger plumbing system to break down faster. So how come hard water does not affect your water heater? Trick question—it does if you do not have a working anode rod. This is why it’s important to check your water heater’s anode rod regularly and ensure that it is working efficiently.

How to Check & Replace an Anode Rod

Because the purpose of the anode rod is to regulate hard water, its lifespan depends entirely on how hard your water is. Regardless of what your municipal water quality is like, however, it is a good idea to check your heater’s anode rod on an annual basis. To find the location of this component, check your water heater’s owner’s manual. More often than not, the rod will be located on top of the unit (if you have no idea where it is and cannot find the manual, call a professional plumber to help you, just to be safe.) When you take the anode rod out of your water heater, you will be able to see whether it is deteriorated or still in good shape. You may be surprised to see how worn down and rusted your anode rod actually is, so do not hesitate to get this part replaced ASAP.

You can either purchase a new anode rod online/at your local home improvement store or you can call a professional to install one for you. The average model costs anywhere between $15 to $60, depending on what type of water heater you have.

The most common types of anode rods are:

  • Magnesium: Magnesium rods probably offer better protection for your water heater overall, as magnesium is one of the top chemical elements that gives hard water its minerally taste. It is worth mentioning though that magnesium can also give off that sulfuric, rotten egg-like smell you may occasionally catch wafting out of your water heater.
  • Aluminum: Usually mixed with zinc in anode rods, aluminum tends to last a long time and it is less expensive than magnesium, though it does not offer as much protection. An added benefit of aluminum rods, however, is that they help neutralize odors. Some homeowners do avoid aluminum because of the taste it gives their water, though you aren’t likely to drink hot water most of the time anyway, so this is usually not a huge concern.

As the metal in your anode rod deteriorates, it will eventually sink to the bottom of your water heater tank. This type of sediment build-up can hinder your heater’s performance over time, which is why it’s important to flush your tank out periodically. You will probably know when it’s time to flush out your heater’s tank based on the loud banging noise it will start to make, indicating the chemical reaction going on inside, and even if you are not using an anode rod for some reason, flushing out your tank will help improve your water heater’s performance.

Contact Our Water Heater Pros at Roby Services Today!

Whether we’re talking anode rods or the whole system, Roby Services has all your water heater needs covered. Our skilled water heater pros can repair virtually any make and model of equipment, and also offer installations for a range of water heater types, including energy-efficient tankless water heaters. Call today to schedule service, and don’t forget to ask about available specials and discounts.

Roby Services is available by phone at (980) 308-0200, or you can send us a message online. And remember, we are here 24/7 for emergencies! 

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