Have you ever wondered how your tank water heater could last so many years without rusting away? After all, it is unceasingly heating water in case you should need it. From the time it is installed to the time it is replaced, your tank water heater is in constant contact with gallons and gallons of water. So why doesn’t it rust?
The reason your water heater tank doesn’t rust away to flakes is because of a part called the sacrificial anode rod. It is one of the more important parts in your water heater, and it’s one that you need to keep an eye on. Read on to find out why.
The Sacrificial Anode Rod
The sacrificial anode rod, also simply called the “anode rod,” is a long metal rod that is inserted into your water heater storage tank. The rod is made of aluminum, magnesium, or zinc, and is forged around a steel wire. While the rod is in the tank, it attracts the ions that would normally oxidize the tank lining to itself. This causes the anode rod to degrade, while the tank itself remains intact and free of rust. This is why the part is called the “sacrificial” anode rod. While this is an excellent form of protection for the water heater, it doesn’t last forever.
Why You Need to Check it
Eventually, the anode rod will become so degraded that it can no longer protect the water heater. When that happens, the lining of the tank will gradually start to rust. If the process is allowed to go on for long enough, the tank can become so weakened that it ruptures. This will cause a large amount of water damage to the surrounding area, in addition to requiring the replacement of the water heater. Every year or so, you should check your anode rod to make sure that it is not yet degraded down to the wire. If it looks like it might be reaching that point soon, or if it already has, you should immediately replace it with a new one.
If you don’t know how to check or replace your anode rod, call Sunset Air. We provide water heater services throughout Olympia, WA.