The most common type of water heater in the United States is of the tank water heater variety. These are heaters that make use of large tanks to store up to over 100 gallons of hot water. While this is very convenient for homeowners, it does expose the water heater to increased wear and tear. Constantly being in contact with so much water makes it possible for the water heater to rust much faster, and possibly even rupture.
In order to counter this increased rate of oxidization, tank water heaters are equipped with a special safety part: the sacrificial anode rod. Let’s examine what the sacrificial anode rod is, how it works, and why you need to keep a close eye on the condition of yours.
The Sacrificial Anode Rod
The sacrificial anode rod, or anode rod for short, is a long metal rod that is inserted into the storage tank of the water heater. The rod is made of either aluminum or magnesium, forged around a thin steel wire. Utilizing a chemical process called “electrolysis” the anode rod attracts rust to itself so that the lining of the tank is spared. Think of the anode rod as operating like a lightning rod, drawing the strike to itself in order to protect the surrounding area.
Unfortunately, this means that the anode rod will eventually rust away itself. This is where it gets the “sacrificial” part of its name. Once the rod rusts away, the lining of the tank will begin to rust.
Why You Need to Check Your Anode Rod
Once the anode rod has rusted down to the steel wire, it will no longer be able to prevent the tank from rusting. If the lining of the tank rusts far enough, it can start to spring leaks. Eventually, the tank may even rupture, causing thousands of dollars in water damage to the surrounding area. This is why you need to check your sacrificial anode rod at least once a year. That way, you can replace it with a new rod so the protective effect isn’t interrupted.
If you aren’t sure how to replace your sacrificial anode rod, call AZ Air Conditioning and Heating. We provide water heaters throughout Los Angeles.