Do you have a problem with stinky hot water that smells like rotten eggs, or corrosion, or sediment build-up? Are you looking for a long-term solution and want to prevent water heater failure and expensive service?
If so, you may be interested in learning about powered anode rods, a potential solution that can provide long-term protection against these issues. By replacing traditional sacrificial anode rods with a powered option, you can prevent sediment buildup, reduce corrosion, and potentially avoid costly repairs. In this article, we'll explore the advantages and disadvantages of powered anode rods, and why they may be the right choice for your water heating needs.
An anode rod is a vital part of your water heater, designed to extend the life of a heater by protecting it from corrosion.
If you have a tank-type water heater powered by gas or electricity, and you have an issue with the stinky hot water smell or premature rusting followed by a leaky tank, your anode rod might not be functioning properly.
A sulfur smell, often described as rotten egg odor, is a common issue, especially if you live in an area with low-quality and hard water. While the smell is not a significant problem, rusting can lead to leaks and significantly decrease the unit's lifespan.
A typical water heater comes with a metal tank covered with a protective glass coating and an anode rod as a secondary method of protection. The anode rod is also called sacrificial because it deteriorates over time, sacrificing itself for the greater cause of protecting metal components from water, oxidation, and corrosion.
Most models come with magnesium, zinc, or aluminum anodes, depending on the brand and model. Homeowners can choose to buy advanced models with built-in powered anodes or replace an existing anode with this non-sacrificial one for better protection and a longer warranty.
In our article about anode rods, we explore the advantages and disadvantages of various types, including installation tips.
Here, we'll focus on powered anodes, their pros and cons, and whether they're worth buying and installing.
As mentioned earlier, anode rods are metal rods that protect the water heater tank from corrosion by eroding over time. As the rod wears down, it loses its ability to protect, and it needs to be replaced.
Powered anodes, such as those made from materials like Titanium found in Corro-Protec anodes, work differently. They include a current rectifier that sends a small electrical current to the water heater. This technology can prevent corrosion, eliminate bad odor, and extend the anode's lifespan.
It's important to note that if the DC current reaches its highest value, it can cause damage to the water tank. Therefore, it's crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions and not exceed the recommended voltage to prevent tank damage.
Most tank-type water heaters have a lifespan of 10-15 years, while typical sacrificial anodes have a life expectancy of up to five years, regardless of the material used. This lifespan depends on factors such as water quality, temperature, usage, and maintenance.
If you don't replace a failing sacrificial anode, your water heater's lifespan may be reduced. Additionally, a seized or broken anode can be difficult to remove.
Sacrificial anodes are an affordable and easy-to-replace option that provides effective protection for the metal tank without requiring electricity.
A typical water heater comes with a magnesium anode that is affordable but corrodes quickly. Households with hard water should consider replacing magnesium anodes with more durable options.
Aluminum anodes are a better choice as they can help reduce the rotten egg smell and have a longer lifespan. However, they're not suitable for use with soft water, such as when using a water softener.
A better option is to install a heavy-duty or powered anode that can provide long-lasting protection.
Magnesium and aluminum anodes are cheap. Depending on the brand, quality, and size, they can cost you between $20 and $50. While they are pretty easy to replace, you can always hire a contractor, costing you up to $150 per hour (in the US) just for labor, as reported by HomeAdvisor.
Powered anodes cost more and can be found at around $150 (as seen on amazon.com).
|Higher cost (around $150)
|Low cost ($20-50)
|Life expectancy is over 20 years
|Life expectancy is from 3 to 5 years
|No maintenance required
|No electricity required
|Removes rotten egg smell
|Controls the smell
|Works well in soft and hard water
|Not suitable for soft water
Installing a powered anode rod on a water heater is a straightforward process. These rods look almost the same as sacrificial anodes, with the addition of a terminal, wiring harness, and DC output module. The hex head and threads underneath make them easy to screw into the water heater tank, at the same location as a factory-installed anode.
To install a powered anode, you first need to turn off the power to the water heater and shut off the water supply. Then, you can remove the old sacrificial anode by unscrewing it. It's a simple process that requires minimal effort.
When installing the new powered anode, make sure to use Teflon tape to avoid enhancing corrosion due to the interaction of the stainless steel anode and the metal tank. The rectifier wiring harness has two lines; one is a grounding line that connects to the metal tank, while the other attaches to the top terminal on the anode.
Once the anode is installed and the connections are established, you can resume power and plug in the DC output module to start protecting your water heater. Overall, installing a powered anode rod is a quick and easy way to extend the life of your water heater and improve its performance.
Here are the general steps to install a powered anode rod on a water heater:
It is essential to follow the manufacturer's instructions that come with the powered anode rod for proper installation. If you are unsure about any of the steps, it is always best to consult a professional plumber.
If money is not an issue and you are looking for a long-term protection solution for your water heater, install a powered anode rod. Some manufacturers are confident about long-term rust protection and success in preventing a rotten egg smell.
Powered anodes are well worth the cost for most homeowners, but are not always the best solution for some.
Sacrificial anode rods also work well but are not that successful in controlling bacteria inside the tank; plus, they have to be replaced every 3-5 years. They are affordable, tested, and easy to install.
Either way, your tank-type water heater relies on an anode and must be functional all the time.