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