Hot water heaters are convenient when your household needs access to hot water. However, heaters are made of corrosive materials that can rust. Many water heaters have a device called an anode rod that helps offset rust buildup. Use this guide to learn more about anode rods and how to maintain their efficiency.

What is An Anode Rod?

An anode rod is a metal rod made of magnesium or aluminum. It is placed inside a water heater's tank to protect it from corrosive materials. Because metals in the rod are more prominent than those used in the tank, the water's destructive ions are attracted to the rod first. By attracting these corrosive particles, the rod begins to degrade before the particles can attack and destroy the inside of your tank.

As the rod corrodes, the efficiency and lifespan of your water heater will increase. Anode rods are not a permanent solution, however, and sometimes need to be replaced.

What Are the Signs of Deterioration?

hot water heatersWhen the rod has fully corroded, your water heater becomes susceptible to the ions in the water. A corroded rod will have noticeably shrunk in size.

Anode rods come in a variety of sizes to suit different heater sizes, but the average rod tends to be ½ an inch in diameter. After it’s fully corroded, it may have the appearance of a thin wire. If the water heater itself is beginning to rust, this indicates the rod is fully corroded and is no longer doing its job.

What Factors Can Affect a Rod’s Lifespan?

Anode rods made from magnesium are considered more effective than their aluminum counterparts. However, this also means they have a shorter lifespan. Since aluminum rods don't work as quickly, they make a good option for households that dispense hard water containing extra corrosive chemicals. Magnesium rods are more suitable for homes that dispense soft water.

Other factors affecting a rod's lifespan are the water temperatures you use and how often you use them. An anode rod can last four to five years. However, it's not always apparent when it has stopped working. Since these devices need to be replaced by a professional, schedule annual maintenance to ensure your hot water heater is working correctly.


If you’re looking for professional water heater repair and installation services, trust the experts at Drain Doctor. They provide drain cleaning, water line, and water heater services for both commercial and residential clients within a 30-mile radius of Levelland, TX. For more information on the assistance they offer, visit them online or call (806) 894-3796.