Modern water heaters contain several components that need regular maintenance, but the anode rod is foremost among them. Many homeowners don't know much about this crucial component.
Anode rod maintenance is usually left to a water heater service professional. This guide will explain the function of the anode rod in your water heater and the process used to repair it.
What Is a Water Heater Anode Rod?
Your home's water supply naturally contains trace amounts of minerals like iron, magnesium, calcium, and others. While these minerals in your water are harmless to your health, they unfortunately aren't harmless for your water heater. Over time, minerals can collect in your hot water tank and form sediment deposits. Sediment reduces your water heater's energy efficiency and promotes corrosion inside the tank.
The anode rod is a part of your water heater designed to counteract the effects of sediment corrosion. The anode rod is made of magnesium or aluminum and extends into the water heater tank. Sediment ions in your water are drawn to the anode rod, which will corrode first. When the rod deteriorates, it must be replaced to continue protecting your hot water tank from corrosion.
Water Heater Anode Rod Repair
Anode rods are standardized and can fit multiple models of water heaters. In most cases, you should be able to find a replacement for your water heater at a local plumbing supply store. However, this doesn't mean you should go on to complete the repair yourself. Many water heater manufacturers specify that maintenance and repairs must be completed by a trained water heater technician, otherwise you risk voiding the warranty.
In modern water heaters, the anode rod is usually attached to the top of the hot water tank. To replace the anode rod, your plumber must first shut off the water and power to your water heater. Next, your technician will flush the tank by attaching a line to the water heater drain valve.
Finally, a socket wrench can be used to unthread the anode rod from the top of the tank. In most cases, the rod will slide directly out of the top of the hot water tank and the new rod can be slid into place. Your technician will reconnect your water heater to water and power, and test it to ensure it is performing properly with the new part.
If your hot water has an unusual smell or ruddy discoloration, it may be time to replace your water heater anode rod. For more information, contact a plumber near you.