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While it doesn’t get a lot of the attention like a dishwasher or refrigerator, the water heater just might be the biggest unsung hero of your home

Just think, without it you wouldn’t have hot water to shower, wash dishes, do the laundry, and so much more. And you know what keeps that unsung hero working? It’s the anode rod.

What is an anode rod?

To put it plainly, the anode rod is the most important factor in determining the life of your water heater. An anode rod is a steel core wire surrounded with one of three different metals. These metals could either be aluminum (best for hard water), magnesium (most common) or zinc (an upgrade from aluminum). The rod is screwed into the top of your water heater and protects your water heater from rusting. When the tank is filled with water the anode rod essentially sacrifices itself (dramatic, we know) to protect the exposed steel of the water heater, through a method called electrolysis. Electrolysis happens when there are two pieces of metal connected inside of water. This process makes the anode rod corrode in place of the exposed steel in your water heater.

Protecting the Tank

Steel is a very useful material, but it will eventually rust. It’s safe to assume that you already know water can and will cause metals to rust. Tank water heater manufacturers know this, too, which is why the tank has a few lines of defense in place.

The first is the glass coating inside the tank. In a new water heater, this lining will prevent water from even coming into contact with the steel of the tank. However, this lining will also start to crack over time. When that happens, the water within the tank can then go to work on the steel that it is composed of. That’s when the anode rod really comes into play.

The rod reacts to the corrosive elements in the water more readily than steel does, so it’s consumed by this material first. This means that your tank itself is protected from corrosion. Because the rod breaks down over time, it also means that it won’t last forever. Keeping a good rod in place is integral to the protection of your hot water tank. Once the tank begins to rust, replacement is your only option.

And this is why you should not only care, but you should celebrate the anode rod.

If you have any other questions about anode rods or water heaters, don’t give it another thought. Just call your local Louisville or Lexington Dauenhauer, any hour.

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