Water Heater Anodes: Types & Facts, and DIY Replacement

A sacrificial anode basically serves for corrosion protection. It is used wherever metals such as iron or steel come into contact with electrolytes. This slim device protects your tank from corrosion and scale build-up. Therefore, it’s necessary to use a youthful anode that can limit and delay the corrosion and extend the life of your water heater.Over time, the sacrificial anode is consumed as it constantly releases ions to the water. Therefore, it must be replaced before dissolving completely. For most boilers, the sacrificial anode should be checked every 1 to 2 years. If you do not replace the sacrificial anode of your water heater, then you may have to experience stinking hot water, leaks, and other unpleasant emergencies.
Learn more about the types of water heater anodes and why they’re so important for a water heater.

Corrosion is the main problem!

Steel and other metals corrode when they come into contact with water, which contains minerals and other substances that eat away the steel. The anode rod is a secondary method to protect the steel in your water tank and increase its lifetime.
Anode rods are made of less noble metals that minerals will attack rather than heading straight for steel. Which explains why the anodes are sacrificial. As long as the anode rod is not completely worn, it would still protect the tank against corrosion and appliance damage. That being said, most water tank manufacturers recommend inspecting the condition of the anode every 1 to 3 years and replace it if you notice it is worn out more than 50%.

What are the different types of anodes?

Now you understand how corrosion will damage your water heater tank and why it could lead to performance and longevity decline. Next, we can learn about the three types of anodes, from the most basic to the most efficient:

Magnesium

This water heater anode is often placed in the center of the tank. In the presence of water, the two different metals are immersed, and one of the two metals will be gnawed by corrosion and emit electrons (thus a current) that will protect the other metal.The magnesium anode is inexpensive and requires a replacement every 3 to 5 years. This sacrificial anode is especially used in areas where hard water is rampant.

Aluminum

Even if aluminum anodes tend to be cheaper than magnesium anode rods and can last longer, one issue with aluminium rods is that the corrosive material that is formed on the anode tends to harden and sink to the bottom of the water tank. This can potentially find its way into your taps and cause issues down the line. In addition, some people claim that aluminum, which ends up in the water when the anode dissolves, could be harmful to people’s health.

ICCP (Powered Anode Rod)

The imposed current anode is made of titanium and covered with MMO that receives a low current regulated electronically by a rectifier (plug-in to a standard 120 V socket). This system provides a layer of permanent corrosion protection on the internal welds and weak points of the tank. These anodes do not need any maintenance and can last for several decades! Our CORRO-PROTEC anodes use high quality materials and are guaranteed for 20 years.

Before changing the anode

  • Start by locating the location of the anode by referring to the instructions for the water heater. In general, it is placed near the resistor with the thermostat rod.
  • Before any intervention, turn off the power or the gas supply by positioning the circuit breaker on the “off” button.
  • Empty the tank completely so that the plate supporting the anode can be easily removed.

Disassembly of the anode

  • turn off the electricity before any intervention on your water heater
  • drain your tank
  • remove the water heater cover, locate the anode
  • remove the bolt holding it and extract it
  • change your anode with the new one

At the end of the day, it’s best to let your plumbing professional change the anode and diagnose the whole appliance from A to Z. Your plumbing expert will be able to make a comprehensive inspection and be able to suggest which anode is best for you based on your needs, location, and budget.

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