Your water heater is comprised of many different parts which must all work together in order to provide hot water to any tap in your home. Most of the important parts rely on natural processes in order to heat the water, although a burner or electric heating element is also necessary.
First, the cold water enters the top of the tank and goes straight down to the bottom of the tank through the dip tube. The heating element is located toward the bottom of the tank. Hot water naturally rises over the dense colder water. When you turn on a hot water tap in the home, the valve opens and pressure forces water to flow through a small tube at the top and into the hot water pipes.
The Water Heater Anode Rod
But one component in your water heater participates in an entirely different process. The water heater anode rod, a small rod made of either aluminum or magnesium, screws into the top of the tank. Some water heaters have two of these rods, in order to provide better protection against corrosion. In order for something to rust, iron, oxygen, and water must all be present. And since water heaters are usually made of steel, an iron alloy, you can expect rust to form over time, unless the right preventive measures are in place.
The anode rod, sometimes called the sacrificial anode rod, essentially sacrifices anodes for the good of the tank. Magnesium and aluminum are more reactive than steel, which means the rod should begin to corrode before the tank does.
Beware of Rust
When you turn on the hot water in your home and you notice flakes of rust at the bottom of the tub, you may begin to worry. Rust flakes could mean rusty pipes, but this is unlikely if it is only a problem with the hot water. On the other hand, it could indicate that your water heater tank has begun to corrode, in which case a replacement would be necessary.
However, it’s possible that only the anode rod has begun to rust through. In this case, you would only need to replace this part. In fact, the anode rod should be routinely replaced, which is why regular water heater maintenance comes highly recommended. During water heater maintenance, a technician cleans and adjusts parts of your unit and inspects all of the components in order to let you know whether a vital piece, like the anode rod, needs replacement.
Call the experts at ACI Northwest today for quality water heater repair or maintenance in Coeur d’Alene, ID.