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Anode rods....

kcopp
kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
What material tends to do a better job and last longer at protecting the water heater? Aluminum or Magnesium.?

Comments

  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    edited October 2014
    This may answer some thoughts.
    waterheaterrescue
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    Water Heater Anode Rods:

    Its my experience that water heater manufacturers don't really want you checking or changing anode rods. Years back, they always had the anode rod as a separate 3/4" tapping in the tank. Being the fool that I am, I always used the appropriate 6 point socket and took the rod out before I installed the heater and Teflon taped and pasted it. Please don't tell me that the T-Tape insulates the threads because it doesn't. According to my expensive Multi-meters. The only way to get replacement anode rods from a supply house is to special order them from the manufacturer. And wait a month for them. To get an old one out often requires an electric impact wrench driver. They usually won't come out because they hit the ceiling so you have to cut them to get them out. That's if the last installer didn't pipe over the anode rod nut.

    Now, in a cost cutting move, they eliminated the extra holes for anode rods and now give you a combination steel fitting with a plastic sleeve and the dip tube on the cold water side, and the anode rod on the hot. If you want to change rods now, you have to drain and disconnect the water heater and especially the hot supply. Which might already be leaking from the rotted out 3/4" steel nipple with the anode rod attached.

    If water heater manufacturers really wanted you to change anodes, they would have them in a separate tapping in the tank and you could change them "On The Fly" without disconnecting the tank.

    Who drains tanks to change elements anymore?
    Jean-David BeyerSuperTech
  • Gordy
    Gordy Member Posts: 9,514
    Okay bad link. Here ya go.
    http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/

    Ice, farm and fleet has replacement anode rods for water heaters they sell reliance is the brand.

    No Teflon taping the threads does not affect performance, and is a good initial maintenance move.

    Aluminum is better for curbing the rotten egg syndrome, but as you will read on in water heater rescues site has draw backs.
    SuperTech
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
    I guess it depends on the mfg.... AO Smith/ State still has the separate anode hole. If you upgrade to the 10yr warranty they give you the nipple/ rod to put on the hot side for $$.
    I di know that you are not supposed to mix anodes. A magnesium rid and an Aluminum don't play well tighter.
    Mag seems to be the Std for a stand alone rod. Aluminum for the nipple rod. So if you try to upgrade the tank for the customer you need to change one or the other often. Not always easy to find.
    On another note Weil mclain now has a Anode in their Aqua plus...a Stainless steel tank. That will sure help w chlorides in the water attacking the SS.
    This differs from Bosch/Ariston.... the anode they put in is about the size of a pencil. It wears out in no time well ahead of warranty and then they renege on replacement.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    The problem for me has always been wholesalers not stocking rods. The wholesaler I did 99% of my business with, probably sold many thousands of water heaters every year. If there was no call for anode rods, they wouldn't stock them.

    And if you research it out as to what kinds of rods you want and for them to get them, they would get all uriney about it. Probably because the manufacturers were so stingy about sending them out.

    I can't tell you how many water heaters I changed where I made a great effort to check the anode rod out. I can safely say that I never saw one that was completely spent.
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,583
    Hello: Magnesium will protect a tank better than aluminum as it develops a higher driving current. This is particularly useful in clean waters, but can be a drawback in softened or very hard/conductive waters. Aluminum is not something I'd put in drinking water in any event, until it has been proven to have no negative health consequences.

    Yours, Larry
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
    ty...that is helpful.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    @Larry Weingarten:

    "" Aluminum is not something I'd put in drinking water in any event, until it has been proven to have no negative health consequences. ""

    That's kind of harsh on the aluminum industry. It can't be ALL that bad judging by all the 30 packs of Bud Light in cans I see leaving the package stores. I'm more concerned about one of the liquids found in the cans though. Alcohol. A science teacher was giving a demonstration on the effects of alcohol. He had two beakers. One with water and the other with alcohol. He took a common earth worm and dropped it into the one filled with water. The worm swam around. He took the worm out of the water filled beaker and put it into the one filled with alcohol. The worm wiggled around desperately, and died. The teacher asked the class what it showed. Johnny wise @$$ struck his hand up and told the teacher that if you drank alcohol, you'd never get worms. Its a proven fact that worms are bad for you. Aluminum, the jury is still out. Worse than all those clear water bottles?

    Besides, we use aluminum oxide for the grit on sandpaper.

    Or so I understand.

    I only buy bottled beer.
  • Abracadabra
    Abracadabra Member Posts: 1,948
    ice, aluminum cans are coated internally, usually with BPA or some type of epoxy resin, otherwise the aluminum would oxidize and leach into the beverage.
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    I know that. And BPA is good for you too.
  • DanHolohan
    DanHolohan Member, Moderator, Administrator Posts: 16,063
    icesailor said:

    Water Heater Anode Rods:

    Its my experience that water heater manufacturers don't really want you checking or changing anode rods. Years back, they always had the anode rod as a separate 3/4" tapping in the tank. Being the fool that I am, I always used the appropriate 6 point socket and took the rod out before I installed the heater and Teflon taped and pasted it. Please don't tell me that the T-Tape insulates the threads because it doesn't. According to my expensive Multi-meters. The only way to get replacement anode rods from a supply house is to special order them from the manufacturer. And wait a month for them. To get an old one out often requires an electric impact wrench driver. They usually won't come out because they hit the ceiling so you have to cut them to get them out. That's if the last installer didn't pipe over the anode rod nut.

    Now, in a cost cutting move, they eliminated the extra holes for anode rods and now give you a combination steel fitting with a plastic sleeve and the dip tube on the cold water side, and the anode rod on the hot. If you want to change rods now, you have to drain and disconnect the water heater and especially the hot supply. Which might already be leaking from the rotted out 3/4" steel nipple with the anode rod attached.

    If water heater manufacturers really wanted you to change anodes, they would have them in a separate tapping in the tank and you could change them "On The Fly" without disconnecting the tank.

    Who drains tanks to change elements anymore?

    Who? Larry Weingarten. Thanks goodness.
    Retired and loving it.
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
    Thanks to Larry I have given more than a few customers a few extra years of tank life by flushing and swapping out anodes. I am looking to add a few more years in the future as a option to replacements. ty
  • kcopp
    kcopp Member Posts: 3,996
    And as an FYI my FW Webb supplier has both types in stock, on the shelf.... who knew!
  • j a_2
    j a_2 Member Posts: 1,796
    Agree I find them very readily available….
  • icesailor
    icesailor Member Posts: 7,265
    If my supplier had stocked them, I would have too. Obviously, in the area where I worked, Southern New England, anode rod failure wasn't an issue. Like I said, every electric water heater I removed that was a leaker, I tried to remove the Anode Rod th check it. I never found one that was completely gone. Some severely worn, but the worst leakers were the old 4 bolt flange models where the inside wall of the tank rusted away, and there was nothing to seat the gasket too.

    I never saw a Screw In that leaked through the threads. I only remember one that I couldn't get an element out with an old beater large screwdriver and a 4# mall/hammer. I saw a few that leaked through the elements after they blew. Easily replaceable.

    I would have checked them in houses that were winterized and off when I turned them on, but the majority had very little vertical room above the top of the tank.

    Such luxury's some of you have.

    I spent more time replacing improper tank flappers, replaced by homeowners that they purchased at hardware stores that were leaking by. Sooner or later over the season, someone would come and change them to one that didn't work on the particular Kohler toilets that were there.

    Memories.
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 929
    Sell a tank type water heater sell a service contract to come back once a year to inspect and flush out the water heater. Why not replace the anode rode every 2 or 3 years and the water heater should out last the warranty by many years. There are folding replacement anode rods available for replacement when there is limited ceiling height available so you do not need to move the water heater. Make sure the electric water heater is full before flipping the breaker back on or you will be replacing a burned out element.
  • ChrisJ
    ChrisJ Member Posts: 13,036
    For years I told my dad to check the anode rod in his tank and he ignored me, said "who does that?" Finally talked him into it after 6 years and the rod was pretty much gone. He ended up buying a new heater due to power vent issues with the burner refusing to light etc, but now he has 4 rods on hand and will be checking it yearly.

    His is a Bradford White and you need to disconnect a pipe but you don't need to drain the entire heater, just a few gallons as he has plenty of clearance. I'll be checking mine soon as well and if I need to change it I'll have to drain my heater and completely disconnect it because I don't have clearance to pull the rod out completely without tilting the heater.

    If there are the folding type rods available for Bradford White I'd be interested in one.
    Single pipe quasi-vapor system. Typical operating pressure 0.14 - 0.43 oz. EcoSteam ES-20 Advanced Control for Residential Steam boilers. Rectorseal Steamaster water treatment
  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 16,492
    Spent a few days in the booth at the Calgary show last week. The Heat-Flo tank boys were next booth over with their super high output tank cutaway, dual coil, counter flow design.

    They designed an anode rod to go in the side of their stainless tanks.

    The rod is about 1-1/2" diameter, 20" long, brass hex, and a stainless, not steel, rod in the center, so no rusting as the anode depletes. Clever approach.
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,583
    Hi: I've got an old booklet in my hands titled "The Danger of Food Contamination by Aluminum", by R M Le Hunte Cooper. This edition was printed in 1932. Cooper was a doctor and he goes into great detail about the effects of aluminum on the body and body parts like the brain, liver, kidneys, spleen etc.

    I know most people do not drink hot water from the tap, but they could easily drink or cook with "once hot" water from that tap. That's one reason why I remove aluminum anodes from heaters and install magnesium. I've yet to see aluminum supplements at the health food store!

    I'll ask Dan if he would like to add this booklet to his library so all can read up.

    Yours, Larry
    wyokcopp
  • Matt5000
    Matt5000 Member Posts: 1
    edited November 2018
    Anode Rods are the factory way of slowing down corrosion from the glass lined carbon steel tank. These rods are meant to shed electrons and the carbon tank will absorb them. The problem with anode rods is A. They dissolve in chunks sometimes, onto the bottom of the water tank. B. They add aluminum into the drinking water system. Today's faucets are single systems and mix hot/cold water. Washing dishes with hot water at 8:00 AM and someone getting cold water at 9:00 AM will still get traces of aluminum into their cold water cup.
    The alternative to replacing the water tank anode rods is a ICCP protection system (induced current cathodic protection). This type of protection is used on city water tanks, off shore drilling rigs and underground pipelines. A monitored D/C current is used to replace the "sacrificial" anode rod to prohibit corrosion. Installing an ICCP system means you never have to replace your anode rod since the current is supplied by a monitored power supply to a sensor rod in the same location as your factory anode rod.