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Plumbing Projects & Tips

Keep Your Plumbing Safe by Checking Your Water Heater’s Anode Rod


June 7th 2021

NCT Plumbing has been serving the Dallas/Fort Worth area since 1968 with diverse plumbing requests and water heater installation and maintenance. It has been happily adding to its list of life-long customers by consistently providing a prompt, long-lasting and high-quality service, with utmost honesty and integrity, at fair prices.


With time, home water heating systems have become more reliable and efficient; however, they are only as safe as their anode rod’s health. It is a reactive core inside water heaters, whose sole purpose is to protect the metal lining, inside the storage tank, from rusting and heating element from galvanic corrosion. This electrochemical process makes the anode rod corrode preferentially than the metal lining and electric element by causing a higher voltage to flow through it. This sacrifice of the anode rod saves the latter from water. Therefore, the anode road, a vital part of keeping water heating systems safe, needs to be periodically checked and, if needed, replaced.


The user manual would mention the exact location of the anode rod. However, in case of missing documentation, it is usually labelled. It is made of formed magnesium or aluminum around stainless steel cable. It is fixed with a hex nut atop the storage tank. Once loosened and pulled straight out, inspect the rod for signs of decay and its remaining useful life. Replace it if a large part of the steel cable is visible.


The following conditions would warrant inspection and ideally replacement of the anode rod:
• Popping sound when heating up
• More than three years without inspection
• Slimy gel substance in faucet aerators
• ‘Rotten egg’ odour in hot water
• No metal left on the rod


Turn off fuel and water supply and drain the systems before starting the replacement. Locate the anode rod. It might be at the top of the water heater, hidden under the water inlet valve and might require specialized tools to remove it. It should then be loosened using a wrench and pulled straight out. In some cases, the bolt might be too tight and might require seasoned hands. Use the plumber’s tape around the new anode rod’s joint threads before getting it in and tightening it completely. If the anode rod is not replaced at the right time; in that case, it might break and fall inside the water storage tank or might dissolve completely. This sediment might travel down the pipes, affecting the entire plumbing system or leave a build-up at the bottom of the tank that will hamper the water heater’s performance and shorten its life.


Preferably, it is best to leave the water heater repair and maintenance, like replacing the anode rod, to professionals like us. It would prevent damage and keep the systems running smoothly for a long time. Our emerald plan can help keep your water heating systems in peak health with yearly maintenance and inspection. It includes a free water heater flush to help keep sediment collection and scale build-up at bay.

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