Imagine this: you wake up one morning and go about your daily morning routine only to get a nasty surprise: Your hot water is a dark brown, rusty color.
So, what does that mean? It means your water heater is rusting from the inside out and is ready to burst at any moment.
Want to avoid this gross and very expensive problem? Then go check your water heater’s anode rod.
Not sure what your anode rod is or why it’s so important? Read on. We’ll cover all of that.
Anode rod: Your water heater’s anti-rusting weapon
Water heaters aren’t made to last forever. They rust away with time. That’s because the tank itself is made of glass-lined steel. And the chemicals and minerals in the water slowly eat away at that steel.
But water heater tanks have a secret anti-rusting weapon: sacrificial anode rods.
Your anode rod is a long, thin metal rod that screws into the top of your water heater and protects your tank from rusting by “attracting” all the corrosive elements in the water.
The anode rod in this electric water heater diagram is the long, metallic rod in the center of the tank.
Basically, anode rods “sacrifice” themselves for the sake of your tank. And because of that, they need to be replaced on a regular basis.
So, how do you know when to replace your anode rod? Let’s take a look…
How to check your anode rod
You’ll want to visually inspect your anode rod every year or so to check for signs of corrosion.
If your anode rod looks like the one to the right, it’s time to replace it.
Unfortunately, checking this yourself can be a difficult task as you’ll need a variety of tools (an air compressor, a 1/2-in.-drive impact wrench and a 1-1/16-in. socket). But if you have all those handy, you can follow these steps to a DIY anode rod inspection and replacement.
Otherwise, your plumber can easily handle the task in just a few minutes.
How often does my anode rod need replacing?
Typically, an anode rod can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years before it starts corroding. But various factors can speed up that corrosion process, such as:
- The material your anode rod is made of
- Whether you use a water softener
- The water temperature
- The quality of the tank
- What happens if I don’t replace my anode rod?
If a worn out anode rod isn’t replaced, corrosive elements in the water will turn their attention away from the rod and start eating your tank. And when that happens, you’ll start to see the tell tale signs of a rusting water heater:
- Rust-colored water
- Leaks in the tank
- Metallic taste to your hot water
- Hot water doesn’t get as hot as it used to
Need professional water heater maintenance? Call us.
Need your anode rod replaced? See the signs of a rusting water heater?
Don’t wait to get either of these fixed. Over 69% of water heater failures are caused by a rusted tank that bursts, costing homeowners over $4,444 on average in water damage.
Whatever your water heater needs, we can help. Just schedule water heater maintenance with our certified plumbers today.