The short answer to this question is, “yes.” But perhaps a better question to ask is, “Why does the anode rod inside my water heater matter? And why should I care?”
Let’s face it, your water heater is pretty much the most important appliance in your home. At least it’s the one we all rely on most heavily in our living spaces. It’s a true workhorse, providing us with all the heated water we need to shower, bathe, wash dishes, do the laundry, etc. And if you’re using a tank water heater to do all this, then you’re utilizing an anode rod, perhaps without even knowing it.
The anode rod isn’t exactly a household name, but considering it needs to be replaced every 3-5 years, long before the water heater itself would otherwise need to be replaced, it’s an important component to understand. Keep reading to learn more about this water heater component, and why you should care about the condition of yours.
The Job of the Anode Rod
As we mentioned above, the anode rod resides in the tank of a standard water heater. It’s most commonly comprised of magnesium, which breaks down faster than steel does. Since water heater tanks are made of steel, you might see where we’re going with this.
The anode rod is often called the sacrificial anode because it breaks down and corrodes so that your steel water heater tank doesn’t.
Tank Water Heater Protection
Steel is a highly useful material, but given that it has nothing separating it from the constant presence of water but a thin glass lining (which can also wear down or break), it is threatened by rust and corrosion.
In a newer water heater, the glass lining we just mentioned will prevent water from coming into direct contact with the steel of the tank. However, this lining begins to crack over the years. When this occurs, the water within the tank could start to go to work on the steel it’s composed of—at least, it could if an anode rod wasn’t in place.
The anode rod reacts to the corrosive elements in the water faster than the steel does, so the presence of water impacts the rod first, effectively protecting the tank itself from corrosion. Keeping an updated rod in place is vital to the protection of your hot water tank—after all, once the tank itself begins to rust, replacement is the only option.
Taking Care of Your Water Heater
So, how do you know exactly when your anode rod needs replacing?
By scheduling regular tune-ups for your tank water heater! Just like you would schedule maintenance for your heater or air conditioner, your water heater needs to be checked up on an annual basis. Our techs look for things like signs of leakage, problems with the temperature readings, scaling from hard water, and—you guessed it—the state of your anode rod.