What Is an Anode Rod?
Your storage-type water heater may look like a big tin can sitting in your basement, but looks can be deceiving: in truth, a surprising amount of thought goes into making that water heater – especially when it comes to keeping your tank from rotting away.
You see, conditions inside your tank are ideal for corrosion: steel decays in water, and heat, slightly acidic household water, and an environment of electrical conductivity all accelerate the corrosion process. Without intervention, a steel tank would rot in just a few years.
That’s where an anode rod comes in.
An anode rod – a steel core wire surrounded with either aluminum, magnesium or zinc that mounts inside your storage tank – “takes one for the team” by drawing the corrosion process to itself rather than the tank lining. The anode rod is often referred to as the “sacrificial rod” for this reason.
A typical anode rod will last about five years, depending on the volume of water that circulates through the tank; if you use a water softener, it might last half that long.
Once your anode rod is spent, your tank will corrode much faster – and since replacing an anode rod is cheaper than replacing your tank, it’s best to stay on top of the problem with regular water heater maintenance.
The best way to do that? Sign up for an Advantage or Value Water Heater Plan from FSi.
Available for our gas- or oil-fired water heater, these convenient, money-saving plans include an annual tune-up, a range of covered repairs, discounts for out-of-coverage repairs, priority emergency service, and more.