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Everything You Need to Know About Your Water Heater's Anode Rod

Every home has a water heater. Most water heaters are steel tanks, with an anode rod inside the middle.

What Is an anode rod?

An anode rod is the most important component of the heater. The role of an anode rod is to decay over time. It’s made from a more active metal than the steel of the tank to attract and react to the corrosiveness of water and protect your water heater. The only thing you cannot repair on a water heater is a leak, which means your anode rod is essential.

Frequently Asked Questions About Anode Rods

Can the anode rod lead to smelly water?

Yes, particularly when the hot water is running. Bacteria can grow within the water heater. This bacterium is not harmful to you; however, it is creating a reaction with the metal on your anode rod. This leads to hydrogen sulfide, which brings the sulfur or rotten egg smell. You can fix this by replacing the rod with a powered anode rod, which will plug into an outlet and use a small amount of voltage to serve the same purpose as a traditional anode rod.

What is an anode rod made from?

The outer portion of an anode rod is made from either magnesium or aluminum, which are both much softer metals than steel. Magnesium is preferred, as aluminum can fall apart within the tank and leave a sediment build-up, which leads to a noisy water heater and gunk inside the tank. Aluminum may be used in cases where the water is very hard, but that’s about it.

How often should you inspect the anode rod?

To work effectively, anode rods need to be replaced. You should have yours professionally inspected at least every two years, or more often if your water is very corrosive.

When should you replace an anode rod?

Once the rod reaches a point where there’s only 25% or less remaining, it should be replaced to avoid rust forming on the water heater tank and causing leaks. This is typically around 3 or 4 years. If you notice smelly or discolored water, it may be a sign that you’re due for a replacement.

How are anode rods attached to the water heater tank?

There are two ways that the rod may be attached – by nipple type of plug type. Nipple type is found on the hot water outlet, while the plug type is on top of the tank in a separate opening.

Can you have more than one anode rod for extra protection?

Yes! You can buy a longer warranty, which means the anode rod is going to be longer. And you can add a shorter rod as a secondary preventative measure. When purchasing a new water heater, we highly recommend buying the longest warranty available to ensure you’re covered for longer.

Messing around with your water heater without the proper licensing and experience may lead to electrical shock and flooding. For professional service inspecting and/or replacing your water heater’s anode rod, give us a call at (612) 430-6547! We can safely provide the assistance you need.