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Serving the Olympia, WA area since 1994



Why Doesn’t a Water Heater Rust?

Monday, January 18th, 2016 at 11:00 am

Tank water heaters are designed to last for many years, and if properly treated, can provide hot water on a moment’s notice throughout your Olympia, WA home. You may wonder why your tank doesn’t rust after all those years, and indeed if rust appears there’s usually something very wrong. Rusty water in your faucet means there’s rust coating the inside of the tank, and tank breaches usually mean you have to replace the entire water heater. So why doesn’t a water heater rust? In other words, why aren’t you dealing with issues like rust in your water on a weekly basis? The answer lies in one of the water heater’s most important components: the anode rod.

What Anode Rods Do

Anode rods start with a steel wire, around which sits a thick sheath of magnesium or aluminum. It’s placed directly within the water tank, and when it comes into contact with the water, it begins an electromagnetic process that basically pulls rust to the anode rod. As long as the anode rod is being consumed, the steel sides of your tank won’t rust and your water will stay clear.

There’s Just One Issue

The only problem with an anode rod is that the rust will ultimately consume it, leaving just the steel wire in its place. When that happens, the rusting process is no longer restricted and the walls of the tank will begin to corrode. If the anode rod isn’t replaced, the damage will really begin, and over time it will necessitate a repair or replacement. Anode rods need to be replaced every two to three years, though some modern water heaters have electronic anode rods that never need replacing. Either way, a regular maintenance session from a qualified plumber can keep an eye on your water heater’s means of rust prevention.

Look to the plumbers at Brooks Plumbing to keep your water heater maintained!

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