Have you ever wondered why your water heater doesn’t rust into oblivion a couple years after being installed? That may seem like an odd question, but consider that any system dealing with large amounts of water is vulnerable to rust over time. A water heater is exposed to water constantly, from the time it is installed onward. So, how does it keep operating without the tank rusting out and rupturing? The answer is a part called the anode rod. Let’s take a look at what the anode rod is, and why you should have yours checked at least once a year.
The Anode Rod
The anode rod is a long metal rod, usually composed of aluminum or magnesium formed around a steel wire. The rod is inserted into the water heater storage tank, and slowly degrades as long as it’s in contact with the water. The anode rod degrades because it attracts the ions that normally cause rust in the water heater tank lining. As long as the anode rod is degrading, the water heater tank will be protected from rust.
Checking the Anode Rod
Though the protection the anode rod offers is quite effective, it won’t last forever. Eventually, the anode rod will degrade to the point where it can no longer attract ions properly. At that point, it will need to be replaced to maintain the protection. Anode rods tend to last around a year before needing replacement. Much of the time, the rod is checked and replaced during annual water heater maintenance. This is yet another reason why it’s so important to get your water heater checked at least once a year.