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Water Heater FAQ: What Is an Anode Rod?

A key component of rust protection in tank water heaters, anode rods are made of magnesium, zinc, or aluminum that surrounds a steel core wire and is screwed into the top of the tank. Many people aren’t even aware that an anode rod exists, yet this is the most important factor in determining the life of your water heater. When your water heater tank is filled with water, the anode rod sacrifices itself to protect the exposed steel of the water heater, by going through a process called Electrolysis.

What Is Electrolysis?

This process happens when there are two pieces of metal connected inside of water. Electrolysis makes the anode rode corrode instead of the exposed steel within your water heater. Essentially the nobler and less reactive metal corrodes over the less noble, more reactive metal. The metal in anode rods—magnesium, zinc, or aluminum—is much less noble than steel, meaning it will corrode before the steel does, protecting your water heater tank.

The Different Types of Anode Rods

Magnesium: This is the most common type of anode rod. Magnesium anode rods are used in places without hard water, as they do not last very long if you do have hard water.

Zinc: Zinc anode rods actually only contain a small amount of zinc. They’re actually aluminum rods, but the zinc is added in order to combat any sulfur smell coming from the water. New water heaters don’t come with zinc anode rods, but it’s a good upgrade if you find yourself experiencing a rotten egg smell coming from your tank.

Aluminum: These are best for places with hard water as they withstand it better than any other type of anode rod. As a result, if you do have hard water, the aluminum anode rods will help extend the life of your water heater when compared to versus magnesium rods.

Contact Dual Heating & Cooling today for water heater services in Bolingbrook, IL.

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