A tanked water heater is designed to safely hold water, but minerals within that water can start to cause erosion over time. The tank contains an anode rod that can minimize the onset of this damage and extend the life of your water heater unit.
What is an anode rod, how does it work, and how can its failure impair your water heater system?
Anode Rod Defined
The anode rod is a long, thin piece of metal that hangs down inside the water tank. The rod has chemical properties that cause the metal to attract the potentially harmful mineralization in the water. Minerals that stick to the rod can't stick to the sides of the tank and cause erosion.
Mineral buildup can start to degrade the anode rod, which leaves some of those minerals free to float around in the water and then to stick to the inside of the tank. You need to perform regular maintenance on the tank, including yearly drains and checks of the rod, to prevent the rod from becoming overwhelmed and ineffectual.
Faulty Anode Rod Signs
How can you know that the anode rod might need to be cleaned or replaced? Has your tap water suddenly become harder or more mineralized? When you stand next to the water heater tank, can you hear slight sounds of pinging or clinking? These symptoms can both indicate that your anode rod has become faulty, most likely due to excess mineralization.
Think your water heater is acting up but aren't sure of the cause? Call in a plumber or water heater service tech from a company like Alexander's Plumbing And Pumps for a check-up and any necessary repairs.
Replacing the Rod
The anode rod isn't difficult to replace if you have some basic appliance repair experience. You will want to drain the tank completely first, which you can do by turning off the electricity and water supplies to the unit, hooking a hose up to the drain valve, and then using a screwdriver to open the drain valve. Wait until no more water comes out of the hose before checking on the anode rod.
Use the owner's manual for your water heater to learn the exact way to access and remove the anode rod on your unit. In general, you will likely need to look for the mounting screws or fasteners that hold the extending arm of the rod to the top of the water heater. Loosen the screws or fasteners and then pull the rod up and out of the water heater.
Slide the new anode rod into the vacated slot, attach its fasteners, and then you can work on refilling the tank. Remove the hose from the drain valve, close the valve, and then restore the electric and water supplies to the unit.