Any system that both contains steel and deals with water will have to also deal with rust at some point. Considering that tank water heaters deal with water for literally their entire lifespans, why is it that they are so resistant to rust? The answer is the sacrificial anode rod, which protects your water heater from the causes of rust. However, that protection does not last forever. Read on to find out more about how the anode rod works for your water heater.
The Anode Rod
The anode rod is a long metal rod, typically comprised of magnesium or aluminum. The rod is formed around a steel wire core, and is inserted into the storage tank of the water heater. While the rod is in contact with the water in the tank, it will begin to degrade. While the anode rod degrades, it attracts the ions in the water that normally interact with the steel in the tank, causing rust. This process is known as electrolysis. This effectively prevents your water heater from becoming a rusted out husk within a couple of years of being installed.
Eventually, though, the anode rod will degrade down to the steel wire at its core. When this happens, the rod will no longer be able to properly protect the water heater tank from rusting. So, the rod needs to be replaced with a new one each time it reaches this point, or the water heater will start to rust. Most anode rods last about a year before degrading too far to be useful. That’s why you should schedule maintenance services for your water heater at least once a year.
Douglas Cooling & Heating offers comprehensive water heater maintenance services throughout Jefferson County, AL. If you need water heater services, give us a call today.