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Water Heater Anode Rods

Replacing your anode rod at regular intervals may increase the life of your water heater, saving you money, time and the inconvenience of having to replace your water heater. One of the most important considerations in having a normal life span for your water heater is whether the anode rod is performing it's job - to divert corrosive action away from the tank walls to the anode rod. This is why they are known as sacrificial anode rods. Depending on the needs of the user, there are several options when making a selection. Magnesium, Aluminum, or a combination of Aluminum, Zinc, and Tin are the most common; there are also flexible options for low ceiling clearance or difficult access points, and hot water outlet styles for additional protection or for those who cannot remove their existing anode. The condition of your anode rod (and whether it is time to replace it) depends upon your water quality, how much the water heater is used, the running temperature, and of course the craftsmanship of the tank itself; it is also good to note that water softened with sodium often equals a shorter life for an anode rod, so being aware of all the factors that affect the anode rod will help you to keep your water heater in top working order.

Our anode rods are designed for standard 3/4" NPT water heaters

Image of Magnesium Anode Rod

Magnesium Anode Rod
Magnesium rods are excellent sacrificial rods, used to protect the inside metal surface of your water heater tank. The magnesium corrodes instead of your tank. Magnesium anode rods tend to be consumed quicker than Aluminum or Aluminum/Zinc/Tin anode rods due to the higher voltage they create during the sacrificial process.
3/4" o.d. rod thickness x 39" length.

Each = $39.94
10 Pack = $342.38
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Image of Aluminum/Zinc/Tin Anode Rod

Aluminum/Zinc/Tin Anode Rod
This particular combination of metal in anode rods is often used when foul odor in water is present. Zinc is a natural anti-fungal element and can help control (not completely eliminate), the growth of iron bacteria which can cause that rotten egg smell. Zinc oxide and zinc compounds are indigestible to micro-organisms such as bacteria.
3/4" o.d. rod thickness x 39" length.

Each = $67.49
10 Pack = $584.15
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Note: anode rods that have a 3/4" thickness will last longer than rods with a 5/8" thickness under the same conditions.

Image of Aluminum anode rod

Aluminum Anode Rod
Aluminum anode rods are the least expensive and create the lowest voltage during the sacrificial process. This means they will usually corrode at a slower rate than the other anode rods we offer. Actual water conditions will vary and have a direct effect on how quickly an anode rod corrodes and dissolves.
5/8" o.d. rod thickness x 42" length.

Each = $20.34
10 Pack = $174.30
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Image of Flexible Aluminum anode rod

Flexible Aluminum Anode Rod
Flexible aluminum anode rods are designed for those limited spaces where a straight anode rod will be unable to be inserted into the water heater due to limited access directly above, such as low ceilings, closets, attics, under stairwells or in basements.
5/8" o.d. rod thickness x 42" length.

Each = $25.31
10 Pack = $215.30
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Image of Hot Water Outlet Aluminum anode rod

Hot Water Outlet
Aluminum/Zinc/Tin Anode Rod

Hot Water Outlet Aluminum/Zinc/Tin anode rods are perfect for use if your water heater does not have a separate anode rod inlet port or your old anode rod is impossible to remove. An integral 2-1/2" heat trap nipple included.
21/25" o.d. rod thickness x 42-1/2" length.

Each = $51.75
10 Pack = $556.61
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Image of Hot Water Outlet Aluminum anode rod

Hot Water Outlet
Aluminum Anode Rod

Hot Water Outlet Aluminum anode rods are the solution for water heaters without separate anode rod ports. Includes built-in 2-1/2" dielectric nipple.
5/8" o.d. rod thickness x 39" length.

Each = $35.46
10 Pack = $305.50
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We also offer heat trap nipples separately

Ultra Flexible Water Heater Anode Rods
For Very Limited Top Access or Extra Low Top Clearance Installations
Our Ultra Flexible anode rods are composed of magnesium fused to a steel cable
and each section is connected using copper couplings and 301 stainless steel braided wire.

Designed for standard 3/4" NPT water heaters

Image of Ultra Flexible Magnesium anode rod

Ultra Flexible Magnesium Anode Rod
Ultra Flexible Magnesium anode rods are best for extra tight situations. Sectional connections are made with copper couplings and 301 stainless steel braided wire. Limited top access? Simple solution!
3/4" o.d. rod thickness x 42" length.

Each = $42.95
10 Pack = $379.20
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Image of Flexible Hot Water Outlet Magnesium anode rod

Hot Water Outlet
Ultra Flexible Magnesium Anode Rod

Flexible Hot Water Outlet Magnesium anode rods are the perfect solution for water heaters without a separate anode rod inlet in tight places. Or maybe your existing anode rod is difficult to remove due to corrosion on the top of the water heater. Low ceiling? No problem! Includes built-in 3" dielectric nipple.
3/4" o.d. rod thickness x 42" length.

Each = $49.95
10 Pack = $429.20
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Water Heater Anode Rods - Additional Information

Aluminum Anode Rods - Least expensive of the anode rods we offer and normally corrode at a slower rate than other anode rods. Most water heater manufacturers install these in their water heaters as standard equipment.

Magnesium Anode Rods - Normally corrode at a slightly faster rate than most anode rods, but dissolved magnesium in water can offer many health benefits.

Aluminum/Zinc/Tin Anode Rods - This combo rod is designed to fight some foul water odors that can occur in water heater systems that use aluminum or magnesium anode rods. Please read our FAQ for more information regarding water odor.

Hot Water Outlet Style Anode Rods - This style of anode rod installs into the hot water outlet of the water heater and yet allows the water to still flow through the outlet. These allow the installation of an anode rod for those instances when the normal anode rod has corroded too much causing the steel to rust or corrode in such a way it is now impossible to remove the old rod. Or, for those who just wish to add a second anode rod into the water heater for better protection. Please note: Some water heater hot outlets can have a calcium build up inside the outlet, or the tank may have not been properly bored out underneath the outlet opening, possibly causing interference with this rod slipping into the water heater.

Hot Water Outlet Aluminum/Zinc/Tin Anode Rods - Contain a built-in heat trap nipple with a fluoroplastic ball that sinks inside the nipple, into a seat, as water flow stops. This is designed to keep any cooling hot water from entering back into the water heater potentially cooling the water heater down. The seat is equipped with a safety relief port. When water is not flowing, heat is effectively trapped in the water heater reducing standby heat loss.

Hot Water Outlet Aluminum Anode Rods - Least expensive of the hot water outlet styles, this particular anode rod has a built-in dielectric nipple (no ball or seat) allowing less water restriction than a heat trap nipple.

Flexible Anode Rods - Used when access to the top of the water heater has limited clearance due to any obstruction such as low ceilings in closets, attics, under stairwells or in basements. The anode rods are manufactured into three or four sections connected with a solid steel wire or stainless steel braided wire. The Flexible Aluminum Anode Rod has three sections of aluminum attached to a solid 1/8" low carbon steel center wire core. The aluminum will corrode and disintegrate before the steel wire can. The Ultra Flexible Magnesium Anode Rods have four sections of magnesium on a steel rod. The sectional connections are made with copper couplers and 301 stainless steel braided wire providing greater flexibility during installation.

We also offer small under counter water heater anode rods

One of the most critical factors in how long a water heater will last is the condition of the water heater sacrificial anode rod. Do you know the condition of your anode rod?

Top Reasons To Replace Your Anode Rod

new water heater anode rods one year old anode rod
  • You want your water heater to last a long time
  • It will cost you less to replace the anode rod than your water heater
  • Water softeners can accelerate anode rod corrosion
  • The water heater makes loud or multiple popping noises when heating up
  • Your water heater is more than 5 years old
  • Acidic water can accelerate anode rod corrosion
  • Your faucet aerators seem to clog more frequently
  • You or your spouse notices a slimy gel substance when cleaning the faucet aerator
  • Your hot water starts smelling like "rotten egg" odor

Compare the new water heater anode rod on the top (what we sell) to a one year old anode-rod below. If an anode rod looks any more deteriorated than the picture on the bottom, we suggest that you replace that anode rod with a new one.

The used anode rod shown on the bottom has deteriorated to a condition where it will probably need to be replaced soon. Waiting a long time is not a good idea. The possibility of the old water heater anode rod becoming broken off, and then falling to the bottom of the water heater (and then bouncing around whenever water travels inside the water heater) is what will deteriorate the water heater tank lining very quickly. This will cause cracks in the glass lining of the water heater radically shortening the life of the water heater. Having a depleted anode rod and not replacing your water heater anode rod in a timely fashion WILL shorten the life span of your water heater.

Please note that the condition of your water and the quality of the water heater lining are two other factors that affect the life span of your water heater.

Anode rods installed into water heaters by the manufacturers will generally be made of magnesium or aluminum that is wrapped around a steel core wire.

Water heater anode rods are generally screwed into the top of the tank.

In order for the anode rod to work correctly the anode rod must possess a lower, more negative, electrochemical potential than that of the water heater's steel composition to be protected. The negatively charged electrons create a higher voltage to flow from the anode rod to the steel tank causing the anode rod to corrode instead of the steel water heater tank, or other exposed metals such as electric elements. The anode rod is "self-sacrificing" and will continue to corrode until eventually it must be replaced.

When there's no sacrificial metal left on the anode, the tank can rust out.

Anode rods generally last about five years but it really depends mostly on the quality of your water and how much water travels through your water heater.

When sodium is added to the water (such as when a water softener is used), anode rods can corrode more quickly. Water softeners can help reduce scale build-up and sediment, but anodes can corrode in as little as six months if the water is over-softened.

Unpleasant taste or odor coming from your hot water outlets can be caused by natural occurring iron bacteria in the water. This condition is usually more common in private or municipal well systems. According to the Minnesota Department of Health (Iron Bacteria in Well Water) iron bacteria are not known to cause disease, but can cause unpleasant odor, stains and tastes in the water. Iron bacteria does not produce hydrogen sulfide, the "rotten egg" smell, but can cultivate an environment where sulfur bacteria can grow and produce hydrogen sulfide (the rotten egg smell). Certain water conditions will cause a reaction with magnesium or aluminum anode rods to produce a "rotten egg" smell. By replacing the magnesium or aluminum anode rod with a combination aluminum/zinc/tin anode rod you may help decrease this smell, but it may not eliminate it completely.

As Aluminum anode rods corrode they can produce an aluminum oxide deposit normally found at the bottom of water heaters, but occasionally make it into the main water supply and into faucet aerators. The aluminum oxide forms a virtually odorless "gel" substance that can vary in texture from a firm somewhat sticky curd to a thick running slurry. The gel can be either milky or clear and is often mixed with other water heater deposits such as scale, rust, or tiny sediment particles. When replacing your anode rod it's a good idea to also flush your water heater out to clean out any sediment, rust, or gel build-up accumulated at the bottom of the tank. You might also consider flushing your water heater out at least once a year as a normal maintenance procedure.

Anode Rods Related Items & Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. "I have a sulfur odor smell coming from the hot water side of my faucets. A friend of mine told me that it might be caused by my water heater anode rod. Is that true and if so, if I remove the anode rod will the odors go away?"
A. Removing the anode rod will not cure the odor problem and will shorten the life span of your water heater tank. It is best to always have an anode rod in your glass-lined steel water heater tank. In many cases the odor is hydrogen sulfide gas. The source is sulfate reducing bacteria which is present in many water systems. That bacteria in most cases is harmless but thrives in the hot water environment. Water temperatures of about 140°F - 170°F makes for a rich growth medium. This type of anaerobic bacteria feeds off the hydrogen gas produced by magnesium anode rods. Periodic flushing of the tank with bleach solution will reduce the problem. Because there are so many factors we can not guarantee that the odor will be eliminated, but if you have no odor on the cold side of a faucet and only the warm side generally (not 100%), replacing a magnesium anode rod with one of our Aluminum/Zinc/Tin rods can help solve the problem. Some water heater manufacturers' claim that softened water causes the problems, but that is not a proven fact. Removal of the bacteria will usually solve the odor problem. Sanitizing the water heater (with safe levels of bleach, etc), will eliminate the odor but only for a variable (relatively short) length of time. A trace amount of H2S gas in the water is another cause of hot water odor but removal of the anode rod will not cure that odor problem either.

Q. "You say these anode rods can be cut to fit my tank. What is the best way to cut an anode rod?"
A. Anode rods should be only a few inches shorter than your water heater. If the anode rod is too long, they can be cut down using a hacksaw.

Q. "As the anode rod dissolves, is water from the hot water line safe to drink?"
A. Water used from the water heater is most commonly used for cooking and clean-up, not for drinking water or consumption. The amount of the mineral content dissolved from an anode rod in your water is greatly diluted and normally falls below acceptable allowable levels found in water. Some of these dissolved minerals, like magnesium, in your hot water system can be advantageous for most people to drink, should the hot water be used for consumption. However, if you are concerned about other dissolved elements in your water, then we suggest you get your water tested by a qualified laboratory or not use your hot water for drinking water.

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