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The Sacrificial Anode Rod, and How it Protects Your Water Heater

Your water heater is one of the hardest-working systems in your home. With changing regulations contributing to a rise in water heater costs later in the year, it’s also one of those systems that you probably want to protect for as long as possible. Part of protecting your water heater is knowing when to change the sacrificial anode rod. What is the sacrificial anode rod? Read on to find out.

What is the Sacrificial Anode Rod?

The sacrificial anode rod is a long metal rod, usually comprised of aluminum or magnesium, formed around a steel wire and inserted into the tank of the water heater. The purpose of this rod is to protect the water heater tank from rusting. As long as the anode rod is in the tank, it will degrade instead of the tank itself. Hence the “sacrificial” part of its name. This process is made possible through electrolysis. It’s a rather complex thing to understand, but to put it simply: the anode rod attracts the ions that would normally cause oxidization in the lining of the tank by providing an easier target. As you might have guessed, however, this protection doesn’t last forever.

Checking and Replacing the Anode Rod

Eventually, the anode rod will degrade down to the steel wire. When that happens, there will no longer be enough of it left to protect the tank. That’s why it’s so important to keep tabs on the condition of your anode rod. As a rule of thumb, you should check your anode rod at least once a year and, if it is too degraded, replace it with a new one.

If you haven’t checked or replaced your anode rod in over a year, call Rentmeister Total Home Service. We provide water heater services throughout Salt Lake City, UT.

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