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How Your Water Heater Prevents Itself From Rusting

Any time steel or iron is in contact with water over a long period of time, rust is all but inevitable. Water heaters are in contact with water almost constantly, from the time they are installed onward. So, why is it that your water heater isn’t rusting out and rupturing every couple of years? The answer lies in a part called the anode rod. Read on to find out what the anode rod is, and how it protects your water heater from rusting.

The Anode Rod

The anode rod, also known as the sacrificial anode rod, is a long metal rod that is inserted into the water heater tank. The rod is typically made of aluminum, zinc, or magnesium formed around a steel wire core. As long as the anode rod is in contact with the water in the tank, it will slowly degrade. This prevents the water heater tank from rusting. The protection works because of a process called electrolysis, by which the metal in the rod attracts the ions that would normally cause the tank to rust. This tradeoff is one of the reasons that the anode rod is occasionally referred to as being “sacrificial.”

Why You Should Get Your Anode Rod Checked

The protection the anode rod offers lasts only as long as the rod itself. Eventually, the rod will degrade down to the wire and be unable to attract any more ions. If the rod isn’t replaced with a new one, the water heater tank will start rusting again and may eventually rupture. You should schedule water heater maintenance at least once a year, so that your technician can check the anode rod and replace it if necessary.

If you need water heater maintenance, call Carney Plumbing Heating & Cooling. We serve all of Doylestown, PA.

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