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The Science Behind the Anode Rod

Mikala Davidson | 09/11/2020 | Posted in Tank water heaters

The anode rod: The vital piece to a hot water heater.

What is the Anode Rod?

Have you ever wondered how does a big metal tank full of water prevent itself from rusting? The answer is the anode rod. So, what is an anode rod and how does it work?

Rust, or corrosion of metal, is created when water, oxygen and metal come in contact with each other. That’s where the anode rod comes into play. This rod is the key piece that prevents your water heater from rusting itself over time. 

The Chemistry Behind the Anode Rod

The anode rod is made up of magnesium or aluminum, which when in contact with water, starts to corrode much quicker, compared to other metals. The bonds between the molecules of magnesium and aluminum give up their electrons quicker than the bonds in steel or iron. Thus, when you place an aluminum or magnesium anode rod into an iron or steel tank of water, the oxygen in the equation takes to the two electrons of the anode rod instead of the tank, as they give them up quicker. This will rust the anode rod, but not the tank itself.

The Importance of Water Heater Maintenance 

The anode rod essentially sacrifices itself to preserve the lining of the tank. Although, over time all of the magnesium or aluminum will have rusted away from the anode rod, so it’s important to periodically schedule a check up on your hot water tank. However, if you wait too long, the interior of your tank will begin to corrode itself, which could result in water heater failure. We don’t want that!

There you have it, the anode rod is the vital piece that keeps your hot water tank healthy. Just remember, it’s important to check or replace your anode rod periodically. This will save you money in the long run and keep your showers hot!

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