What is an anode in a hot water heater?
An anode rod or sacrificial anode is part of a hot water tank protecting your water system against rust. It is a crucial piece of hot water systems and ensures the lifespan of your tank.
A sacrificial anode is a steel rod surrounded bymagnesium, aluminium or zinc, and it is located on the top of water heaters. It works through a process called electrolysis.
The sacrificial anode will corrode instead of the water heater steel, saving the hot water system from creating rusty water and bursting.
How often should you replace the anode rod in a water heater?
Many people are unaware that a water heater anode should be replaced regularly. They assume that it is working fine if a tank produces hot water and there's a continuous water supply. But understanding what is happening behind the scenes and inside the unit is crucial.
Your hot water system, either electric, gas or solar, has a shelf life of around 10-12 years, depending on the condition of your system.
They may suffer from leaks and temperature and water pressure issues from time to time. But generally, if your anode rod is inspected and changed at the right time, you can increase the tank’s durability and overall life span. It is recommended to change your hot water tank anode rod every 3-4 years.
You should remove the anode,
- If the sacrificial anode rod has been 3+ years since you last changed your anode rod
- Your hot water tank makes a popping noise when heating up
- You want to extend the lifespan of your water tank
- You notice bad smelling water
- You have a higher than usual water bill
How do you change an anode rod in a hot water heater?
You will need a replacement sacrificial anode, a bucket, impact socket. Make sure you have these materials ready.
Step 1: Turn off the power supply to your water heater. Then turn off the cold water supply located on the side or top of the unit.
Step 2: Drain the water by opening the drain valve and the hot water valve. You can drain about 10% of the water in the tank. Have your bucket or garden hose handy to divert the water outside. Attach your hose to the boiler drain, which you can find at the bottom of the tank.
Step 3: Find the anode. You may have to remove the top lid and look inside the heater.
Step 4: Removing the rod may prove difficult. Getting help from another person may be beneficial. Loosen the hex head bolt with the proper socket wrench that is large and durable. Once the bolt is loosened, you can remove the anode rod.
Step 5: Install your new anode rod. You can use plumbers tape to wrap around the joint threads. Use your socket wrench to tighten the rod into the opening then. It would help if you first tightened it by hand and then used the wrench at 180 degrees to finish it off. Then, turn on the power for your hot water and cold water supply.
Most of the time, for your hot water systems, it is best to contact a licensed plumber and check the condition of your water heater. And they will have the right tools for this hot water service, like correctly removing and replacing your new water heater anode rod.