The water heater is one of the toughest installations in your home, built to withstand heat, external damage, and even corrosion.
Corrosion occurs when the electrons of a metal are exposed to water and oxygen. Iron is likely to corrode over time, and most water heater tanks—which are made of steel, an iron alloy—will suffer from rust and corrosion eventually, in which case, whole unit replacement is often necessary. However, due to measures in place to keep the tank itself from corroding, rust may not always be a sign that the tank is done for.
MOST OF THE COMPONENTS OF YOUR WATER HEATER ALL WORK TOGETHER TO ACHIEVE A COMMON GOAL: HEATING THE WATER.
The unit contains a few key components that get this done, namely the dip tube, the burner or electric heating elements, and the hot water outlet. Cold water flows into the tank through the dip tube which leads all the way down to the bottom. This is where the burner or heating element is located. As water heats up, it rises naturally to the top of the tank. Here, it can flow into the faucet through the outlet pipe that goes off toward the various faucets in your home.
A FEW OTHER COMPONENTS ASSIST IN THIS PROCESS.
Thermostats help to monitor the temperature while a pressure relief valve slowly drains water out of the tank in case pressure levels become dangerously high. But the temperature that does not help to heat or monitor the water heater temperature and pressure is the anode rob. The anode rod is a small magnesium or aluminum rod that screws into the top middle portion of the tank. The anodes are more reactive than steel, which means that they’ll corrode before the tank does. The sacrificial anode rod gives its anodes for the good of the water heater, delaying the time it takes for corrosion to begin.
Often, rust in the water heater or when you turn on a hot water tap in your home simply indicates that the anode rod has corroded through. However, sometimes it’s a sign that the tank has started rusting, and corrosion is inevitable.
CALL A PROFESSIONAL
The best way to be certain about the state of your water heater is by calling a professional for water heater maintenance from time to time. The anode rod is a simple part that can be replaced rather easily, and during maintenance a technician inspects the entire unit to decide whether replacement is necessary.