Water Heater Anode Rod : How To Double The Life of Your Water Heater!

Water heater anode rod is not a subject we talk about everyday. However, this small part is making sure we will have some hot water in years to come. Did you know that in North America, the average life span of residential water heaters is 8 to 12 years? Yet these reservoirs have the potential to last much longer.

More than 8,000,000 water heaters are sent to the dump every year, which is an enormous amount; and we have the power to change that! Have you ever heard anyone say their heaters lasted 20 or more years? Well, it could be your case after reading this article!

What is Cathodic Protection and why water heater anode rod is important? 

To begin with, one should know that every steel water heater is equipped with a galvanic anode (also called sacrificial anode) to protect it from corrosion. Even if almost all water heater tanks are glass-lined, they still need something to protect it against corrosion since there is almost always some defects caused during transportation, installation or even manufacturing. The rust will then attack these defects much more severely and the life of the tank will be less than if it had not had glass-lined reservoir.

This principle, also known as Cathodic Protection, has existed for several years, and is used to protect several types of structures, such as submarines, boats or pipelines. There exists two forms of cathodic protection; galvanic protection and impressed current protection.

Sacrificial Anode 

Water Heater Anode Rod : How To Double The Life of Your Water Heater! 1

Often overlooked, the sacrificial anode is the first component that should be maintained, and if needed, replaced, in order to extend the life span of our water heaters. However, replacing your anode rod requires a good sense of discipline as well as frequent monitoring. As the name suggests, the purpose of the sacrificial anode is to protect the water heater against corrosion by “sacrificing” itself. 

Its operation is rather simple: when two metals are found within a liquid, the one with the most negative electrochemical potential will corrode first. In order to protect your steel water heater (-0.6V), manufacturers use magnesium anode rod (-2.3V), aluminum anode rod (-1.66V), zinc anode rod (-1.1V) or a combination of aluminium zinc anode.

Since it constantly releases ions into the water, the sacrificial anode degrades over time, which limits its overall lifespan. As it degrades, the benefits and protection it provides decreases, which leads the steel tank to rust. 

Inspection Of The Water Heater Anode Rod

Most water tank manufacturers will recommend that you inspect the condition of the anode once every 1 to 3 years, and to replace the part if you notice wear and tear beyond 50% of its initial state. If you are comfortable with doing this task yourself, it should only take but a couple of minutes, however, we would recommend hiring a professional. We also recommend to drain the water heater once a year to limit sediment accumulation in the tank.

Sulfur Smell In Hot Water

The anode is also the main cause of rotten egg-like smell in hot water. Although many people would recommend removing it completely from the tank in order to correct the issue, we strongly advise against using this method. By removing the sacrificial anode from your tank, you deprive it of the only protection against corrosion it has. To find an effective solution against sulfur odors, visit: Sulfur Smell In Your Hot Water? Here’s 4 Ways To Fix It.

Imposed Current Anode (Titanium)

Water Heater Anode Rod : How To Double The Life of Your Water Heater! 2

Adapted for residential water heaters in North America by Corro-Protec in 2006, imposed current anodes uses a much more efficient technology. Unlike the magnesium or aluminum water heater anode rod, this system of cathodic protection is built to last several years and require no maintenance. 

How Powered Anode Rod works

The imposed current anode is made from an insoluble titanium alloy and covered with MMO. In order to “activate” the protection, it is required to transmit a low voltage through, regulated electronically by a rectifier (to connect to a standard 120 V socket). The current allows complete polarization of the tank, providing a permanent protective layer against corrosion. With this type of water heater anode rod, it is possible to double the lifespan of your water heater, regardless of the composition of your water.

Contrary to popular belief, these anodes also have a shelf life that is determined by the quantity and quality of the materials used to make the MMO-coated titanium rods as well as the current transmitted by the rectifier. Corro-Protec water heater anode rod have been subjected to several tests in our laboratories in order to demonstrate their effectiveness and their life span. You can learn more on this in the blog entry: Tests of Powered Anode Rod.

Related Posts :


  1. gaston pare on March 11, 2022 at 7:53 am

    Bonjour j’ai un condo en Floride,et on enleve le courant de la tank a eau chaude durant 6 mois ,peut on laissé le courant sur l’anode corroprotec pour eléminé la senseur d’oeuf pourri a notre retour et remetre le courant sur le reservoir merci gaston

    • Corro-Protec on March 15, 2022 at 10:53 am

      Bonjour Gaston, en effet l’anode doit resté en fonction s’il y a encore de l’eau dans le réservoir.

  2. Rob Deschover on September 1, 2021 at 5:03 pm

    Will it stop rust in your water

    • Corro-Protec on September 7, 2021 at 1:01 pm

      Yes, this is the #1 reason we invented this product 🙂

  3. Geoffrey Storms on March 22, 2021 at 11:39 am

    I have a 50gal Rheem gas water heater, mfd in 2016. I have been in the house since 2017 and no mtce on the water heater. There is very limited clearance above the water heater…max 18″.

    Do you have segmented anode rods which I would need in order to replace the existing one. There has been a water softener in place during the life of this water tank and per your comments, that might shorten the life of the anode rod.

    Your thoughts please.

    • Corro-Protec on March 29, 2021 at 11:23 am

      The Corro-Protec is only 12 inches long so you will be able to install it easily.

  4. Darryl on February 12, 2021 at 1:57 pm

    Do you make a nipple fit powered anode?

  5. Jim on January 27, 2021 at 11:33 am

    If you have a water softener installed on the main water line into the house , is it still beneficial installing a corro seeing the water will be of a softer nature ?
    Please advise , thanks .

    • Corro-Protec on January 27, 2021 at 3:01 pm

      Hello Jim,

      Contrary to popular belief, a water softener makes the water more corrosive to your hot water tank. When a water softener system is installed, it removes the “hard” minerals and replaces them with “softer” ones such as sodium. Soft water can actually corrode the water heater anode faster. When the anode wears down, the corrosive elements will move on to the tank. So if left alone, a water softener system can actually shorten the lifespan of a water heater.

      By installing a Corro-Protec anode, you make sure the tank will have a long term protection against corrosion.


  6. D. D. Douglas on December 22, 2020 at 10:24 am

    My last hot water tank had one anode rod in it and lasted 28 years the new one I just installed has a double anode rod so I’m hoping to get even more time out of this one

  7. Matt on August 15, 2020 at 8:37 pm

    My heater is only 8 months old and the water smells real bad.what should I do

    • Corro-Protec on August 17, 2020 at 8:44 am

      Installing a Corro-Protec anode would be the best solution. It will completely stop corrosion inside your tank and stop the rotten egg smell.

  8. Lesley Moffitt on September 11, 2019 at 9:20 pm

    Hello, I’m interested in knowing what it should cost to have a new anode installed in my water heater?

    • Corro-Protec on September 12, 2019 at 8:53 am

      Hello Lesley,

      The cost of installation depends on several factors. We invite you to contact your local plumber for an installation price. The product arrives with the instructions to replace the anode yourself and it only takes a few minutes!


  9. Dale Brass on May 9, 2019 at 1:23 pm

    Not sure how to read this
    Ad sez stops smell, what actually stops the smell is removing the mag rod to install this gadget. Smell does not come back cause the rod is gone. Tricky ad, but maybe the thing could be advertised that it.slows down corrosion idk
    A 10 year warranty on water means it will last 10 yrs
    Plus 6 more months

    • Corro-Protec on May 9, 2019 at 8:00 pm

      Thank you for taking the time to share your questions!

      It is worth knowing that the smell of sulfur in hot water can be caused by 2 different factors.

      The first is a reaction between water with a high magnesium content and the magnesium anode already present in the tank. If you remove the anode from the tank, this smell will quietly disappear and should not come back. However, by doing so, you are depriving your water heater of its only protection against rust and this will significantly reduce its life span. In addition, it is possible that pieces of magnesium have detached from the anode, these pieces will continue to create a reaction and create this smell.

      Secondly, this odor can be caused by sulphate-reducing bacteria, these bacteria live in a low-oxygen environment such as deep wells, plumbing, water softeners and water heaters. Even if you remove the magnesium anode, the odor will remain in your hot water!

      Our product solves this problem, regardless of what causes the odor issues! Some tanks, like those at Bradford White, have an anode built into the water heater, which is hard to access. Our product allows to eliminate odors in these tanks even if the original magnesium anode is still present!

      • Karl on June 26, 2021 at 3:17 pm

        I’ve replaced mine with aluminum… But it reacts badly when shocking the well. The chlorine reacts with the aluminum and it fills the tank with chlorine gas… So the hot tap sputters… Now the aluminum rod depleted and the smell is back. My water is hard and high in iron and very high in magnesium when i tested it..

        Hopefully this will solve my issues and hopefully its safe to shock the well this often without harming the new rod.

        • Corro-Protec on June 28, 2021 at 7:55 am

          Karl, Corro-Protec anode will not have any reaction if you are shocking your well.

    • sherihummer@gmail.com on September 16, 2019 at 10:41 pm

      Hi this will be the second anode rod we have replaced in 2 years. Water has an rotten egg smell and is now turning black. I have calligan water softener for my water. Which rod is the best on to get.
      Sheri Hummer

      • Corro-Protec on September 17, 2019 at 1:04 pm

        You should try the Corro-Protec 40 to 80 Gallons!

  10. John Zeppa on April 30, 2019 at 8:05 pm

    Hello, Just curious about the life span of the rectifier power unit. Also, in your illustration it shows the rectifier with two leads. The obvious one goes to the insertion rod into the tank,,, the other is shown going the top side wall of the tank – what is its purpose ??

    • Corro-Protec on April 30, 2019 at 9:23 pm

      Hello John! The second wire is a ground and It’s the easiest way to install it.

      • Curtis Walker on January 29, 2021 at 1:00 pm

        I just recently replaced my 40 gallon electric water heater with a 52 gallon Westinghouse stainless steel electric hot water heater which has no anode protection because of the stainless steel tank but it still recommended by the manufacturer to completely drain the tank once a year because of the extremely hard water we have here I have a whole house charcoal filter on the house I am not a fan of water softeners because of the sulfur content that they put in the water and what it does to anode rods because of that the one thing I don’t see mentioned is the proper installation of the anode rod into the tank per the manufacturers and several sales representatives I’ve talked to over the last 20 years the only thing that should be used on the threads of an anode rod when it is replaced in a tank is dielectric grease as it helps with proper protection to the tank the use of Teflon tape or Teflon paste is an insulator which does not allow the rod to properly function!

        • Corro-Protec on February 1, 2021 at 8:16 am

          Hello Curtis,

          Thank you for your contribution to our blog. If we are talking about an impressed current anode such as the Corro-Protec anode, you must use teflon during installation. The exchange between the anode, the current and the tank is done through the ground installed directly on the tank.


Leave a Comment