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7 Important Questions About Hot Water Anodes

by | Oct 15, 2021 | Plumbing

What’s the most important part of your hot water system? Is it the tank that holds the water? The element that heats it up? The relief valve that prevents it from exploding? Whilst all obviously important, the answers are: No, no and no. That’s because the most important part of your hot water system is actually the sacrificial anode.

“Hang on… the sacrificial-what?” It’s a surprisingly common question about an often completely overlooked component of most traditional tank-based hot water systems – which is why we need to take a deep dive into the subject.

What is a hot water anode, anyway?

The most basic explanation is that hot water anodes are installed inside the storage tank with a sole purpose – to act as bait for the rust and corrosion that might otherwise completely ruin your trusty hot water system.

But if it’s so important, why is so little known about it? That’s a more difficult question to answer – but the hot water repair experts right here at Ezy-Plumb are at least equipped to answer all of the most frequently asked questions about this crucial part of your expensive hot water setup.

Let’s dive straight in:

1. Why does it even matter?

We told you that the anode is there to divert the development of rust and tank-ruining corrosion – but why would you even care? The answer is simple: because after a certain time, the anode is likely to be sufficiently rusted and corroded by the minerals and impurities in normal water supplies that the corrosion will simply start eating into your tank.

2. What is it?

Now you know what it does – but what on earth is it? The answer is surprisingly simple. The sacrificial anode is simply a metal rod, normally made from aluminium or zinc-coated magnesium, which is specifically designed to direct corrosion away from the metal tank itself. That’s why it’s ‘sacrificial’ – it is slowly eaten away so that your tank isn’t.

3. How long do hot water anodes last?

If they wear out, how long does that process take, then? While it depends on the quality of your water supply, the general rule is that a hot water plumber should be giving your anode a thorough check every few years or so. Let’s round that number up to 5 years for posterity. Melbourne’s water quality is quite good, so signs of a failed anode may mean it’s time to replace the hot water system, particularly on older units.

Bonus Read: The 5 Factors: How Long Do Hot Water Systems Last?

4. How much will a replacement cost?

Here’s the good news, because the cost is impressively low. Budget for a couple of hundred bucks for the rod component itself, and you should have some change.

5. Does every system feature an anode?

No: it’s only necessary with storage tank materials that are prone to corrosion. Are you troubleshooting an instant gas hot water system? It won’t be an anode problem. Also if you go for a premium stainless steel option, the rod is likely to be missing.

6. Is checking/replacing the anode really necessary?

Yes! And the best proof of that is to ask someone who knows an awful lot about boats. All of the water-exposed components including rudders, propellers and shafts are protected from corrosion by … you guessed it … sacrificial anodes.

7. Is my hot water system overdue for an anode check?

If it’s been a few years since an experienced hot water expert gave your hot water system a once-over, it’s probably time to start dialling – because a corroded tank is a very bad and quite expensive news indeed.

  • Is your system making any new noises?
  • Is your system 5+ years old?
  • Does your hot water smell like rotten eggs?
  • Is your hot water cloudy or gritty?
  • Is your hot water system leaking?

Call Melbourne’s experts for a hot water anode check

If you’ve noticed any of the above, we hate to tell you this but your sacrificial anode may already be long past its prime. But there’s still good news – because Melbourne’s hot water professionals here at Ezy-Plumb are the local and affordable master at fast, affordable checks, repairs and replacements.

Don’t sacrifice your hot water system by forgetting about your sacrificial anode – and give the friendly Melbourne Bayside plumbing team at Ezy-Plumb a call today.

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