Most homeowners are eager to extend the life of their home’s appliances. And when you can do the work yourself or have it done by a licensed plumber in just about an hour, why not jump at the chance to get several additional years of service from your home’s water heater? Sadly, many homeowners are unaware of the simple yet life-altering value of the anode rod in their water heater.
What Is An Anode Rod
The anode rod in your water heater has the critical job of helping to eliminate corrosion inside the holding tank. As you may or may not know, holding tank corrosion is the number one reason a water heater requires replacement. Once the rust and corrosion eat through the tank wall, the entire unit must be replaced. There is no safe way to repair damage to the holding tank wall. So eliminating the corrosion inside the tank is essential. And that is where the anode rod becomes vital.
How It Works
The anode rods are made of magnesium, aluminum, or aluminum/zinc alloy. And you can buy replacement aluminum rods at your local hardware or big box store. The wall of a water heater tank is made of steel and fragile glass coating to protect it. But over time, that glass begins to crack and expose the steel to the corrosive water inside the tank. However, the anode rod wears or corrodes more quickly than the steel of the tank wall. As the anode rod corrodes, it releases electrons into the water, creating a protective barrier for the steel tank. In essence, the anode rod is neutralizing the water’s corrosive power to protect the steel tank. But by doing its job, the anode rod becomes destroyed. So a replacement is necessary to continue to protect the water heater tank.
The Replacement Process
You might think that this is going to be a tricky replacement job that requires a professional. However, if you are a little handy and want to take on a DIY project, this is not that difficult. First, turn off your water heater and shut the water supply line. Then drain a bucket of water from the tank to relieve the pressure. If there is any rust in the water that you drained from the tank, you definitely need to replace the anode rod. And even if there is no rust in the water, continue with this process to inspect the anode rod.
There is a hex head on the top of the water heater holding tank attached to the anode rod. Loosen the hex with a 1-1/16-inch socket and driver with a breaker bar attached. If the hex is challenging to turn, apply WD-40 to help break the corrosion. When the hex threads are clear of the tank, lift the anode rod out of the tank. If you do not have 44 inches of clearance above the tank, you can bend the rod to remove it. An old rod will be covered in rust and corrosion rather than a new anode rod’s smooth finish. If your space is limited, be sure to purchase a flexible replacement rod. Install the new rod by following the instructions on the package.
In most cases, an anode rod will last about five years before it requires replacement. And with regular replacements, you can extend the life of your water heater by at least several years. Call (214) 388-4525 if you would like professional help from the licensed plumbers at Metroplex Leak & Locate to replace your water heater anode rod.