Every three months I connect a hose to the bottom of my water heater and drain a few gallons into a white bucket to remove gunk and the debris that comes off the sacrificial anode rod as it slowly dissolves. The purpose of this anode rod is that it dissolves through a process of electrolysis, and by doing so prevents the walls of the tank from rusting out. Today, I decided to replace this anode rod, because when I drained water earlier I was seeing rust in the water which is a danger sign that the walls of the tank may be rusting out. Here is a picture showing how it is installed in a standard electric water heater tank:
It is clearly visible at the top of the water heater tank as the only large nut on the top.
Below is a picture of a brand-new rod, and below it what was left of the one that I replaced:
|New anode rod|
|worn out anode rod|
This water tank has been in service for six years as my solar hot water storage tank, and another six years prior to that it was my primary source of hot water. This should serve as a cautionary tale to anyone with a water heater tank. It is a lot less expensive to replace the anode rod than it is the entire water heater! I got mine at a local plumbing supply store for about $65 - compared to at least $300 for the cost of the water heater not including labor, this is a bargain.
Note: due to the low ceiling height clearance, I installed a flexible rod like the one below.
Generally they are straight and measure 24″ to 36″ long, and some are even longer. Your anode rod needs to be sized to match your tank.
This is part of my ongoing series that deals with the concept of repairing rather than replacing as a way of living sustainably. One can argue that living sustainably can save you a great deal of money over the long term, and this has certainly been true for my lifestyle.