A water heater is a big investment, so to protect that investment, you need an anode rod. What is an anode rod, and why do you need one?


Water heaters are great when they work and are well-maintained. There are many things you can do to maintain your water heater. From draining and flushing the unit every three months to installing a water softener to prevent mineral buildup, there’s a lot you can do in regard to preventative care. When you get a new water heater, you’re making an investment into your home. One of the best ways to protect that investment is with a good anode rod. What is an anode rod? We’ll explore anode rods and what to look out for when performing maintenance. Let’s dive in!


What Is An Anode Rod?

An anode rod is a metal rod that sits in the center of the water heater tank. The center of the rod is often made of steel with a magnesium or aluminum coat. Magnesium works better for homes with soft water, and aluminum works for homes with hard water. It’s often made of magnesium or aluminum. The anode rod is a critical feature of your water heater because it reduces corrosion and buildup inside the metal lining inside the unit.


What Does It Do?

So, the reason your water heater has an anode rod is so that the water will corrode the rod instead of your heater. The metal in the rod attracts sediment and corrosive compounds over time in order to protect the heater. In time, the rod will break down and become corroded, so it will need to be replaced. 


When Does It Need To Be Replaced?

Checking the anode rod every one to three years is the general recommendation you will see across the board. In our opinion, checking your anode rod every year after installation is a good course of action. By having it inspected every year, you will be able to gauge how fast the rod corrodes and how soon you’ll have to replace it.


How To Replace An Anode Rod

So, you’ve inspected the anode rod. If the rod is spent and heavily corroded, you need to replace it as soon as possible. Replacing an anode rod can be tricky, so you may be wondering how to replace it.

First, you’ll need to gather a few things:

  • a hose
  • a bucket
  • a flat head screwdriver
  • a socket wrench
  • correct-sized socket


Step 1: Drain The Water Heater

So, the first thing you need to do is drain the water heater tank. First, turn off the breaker to the unit. Then, at the bottom of the tank, you’ll see a drain valve where you connect a garden hose for drainage. After the hose is connected to the tank, cut off the cold water supply to the tank, and turn on a hot water faucet in your home. Finally, use a flat head screwdriver to open the drain valve. You can either let the water drain in your driveway or a bucket.


STEP 2: Remove The Old Anode Rod

On most water heater models, there is a stiff rubber or plastic cap that covers the hex bolt above the anode rod. The best way to remove this cap is with a flat head screwdriver. Pry the cap off and remove the insulation inside the hole. Once the cap is off, use a socket wrench to carefully unscrew the old rod from the unit.


STEP 3: Install The New Rod

To install the new anode rod, make sure to wrap the threads on the hex bolt with Teflon tape. Always wrap Teflon tape in the same direction you need to turn the bolt. The plumber’s tape ensures a leak-free seal.


Still Need Help? Call The Professionals

So, When it comes to your water heater, don’t take any chances. An anode rod is critical to the health and maintenance of your unit. If you’re having trouble removing your anode rod or just want some help, feel free to give us a call. At Drain Express, we’re drain cleaning and plumbing experts who are here to help you with all of your plumbing needs.

We look forward to serving you!