What is an Anode Rod?

An anode rod (sounds like “anne” + “ode”) is located in your water heater. The picture below shows what one looks like:

anode rod, aluminum anode rod, water heater, corrosion, sacrificial anode rod, anode

  The most common type of anode rods are made of magnesium, aluminum, or zinc. The one pictured above is aluminum.

Okay, so what does it DO?

Your water heater is made of steel. Over time, the minerals in your water can eat away at the steel. This causes rust and corrosion. This is where the anode rod comes in. The magnesium or aluminum of the anode is less resistant than the steel of the water heater. This means that the minerals will “attack” the anode rod and eat away at it INSTEAD of your water heater. They are also known as “sacrificial anode rods.”

Inspection and replacement

By inspecting the rod every 3 years, you can increase the life of your water heater, which saves you the money, time and inconvenience of needing to replace your water heater. The picture below shows the difference between a new anode rod, and one that needed replacement. You can click on the image to get a better look:

anode rod, anode rods, anode, magnesium anode, aluminum anode

As you can see at the top of the picture, the rod has been reduced to a wire. This means that the minerals began to eat at our customer’s water heater. By replacing it, the life of that unit may be prolonged.

Which type of anode rod do I need?

As we mentioned before, there are three types of anode rods: aluminum, magnesium, and zinc.

  • You need aluminum if:  you have hard water. This metal can withstand the minerals of hard water best out of the three choices.
  • You need magnesium if: you have soft water. If used in hard water, this type of rod will not last long.
  • You need zinc if: you have a rotten egg smell. Zinc anode rods actually contain very little zinc, but the zinc is added to specifically take care of sulfur smells.

Our recommendation

Rapid Service recommends that you inspect the rod every 3 years. It truly depends on your water quality. Sometimes, it can last 5 years or more. We offer inspections. The inspection itself takes about 15-30 minutes, and you will know right away if it needs replacement. The process includes shutting off the water heater, relieving pressure, partially draining it, removing the rod and inspecting it. The inspection is only $72. If the rod needs replacement, the repair would be done then for a total cost of only $155. All you have to do is mention this blog post to your technician to receive this pricing! You can schedule your inspection by calling (800) 229-8177 or by filling out our online Contact Us form.