You will be surprised to learn about the kind of drama that goes on inside your water heater tank. While you are taking a warm shower or comfortably washing the dishes in hot water, on the supply end of the hot water is a metal rod playing an important role in protecting your water heater in an effort to allow it to run for a few years more.
The metal rod savior!
The metal rod in your water heater is a simple steel rod, coated with a metal – usually magnesium, aluminum or zinc. With the help of the opening that lies on the outside of your water heater, this metal rod is inserted into the heater in an effort to establish a connection between the metal rod and the inner walls of the tank.
It is definitely surprising that such a simple device is one of the most crucial components of your water heater. This is because it prevents rust. Read further to learn how it works.
An Electrochemical Process
In the process of understanding how a metal rod can do wonders in preserving your water heater, let us begin with the understanding of how metal corrodes. Corrosion occurs as a natural electrochemical process when metals are oxidized and thereby lead to deterioration. When electrons move away from metals as a result of an electrolyte, actual metal loss occurs and that is how corrosion occurs. This is why when rust goes out of control, you will see a hole eaten straight through the side of a water heater tank.
This is a recurring process but the metal rod has the ability to fight back. This is because the rods are made from a larger amount of metals that the metals that they are supposed to protect. Therefore, when the rod is connected to the metal at risk along with a large volume of water, the metal rod loses many more electrons that the less active water heater made of steel.
As a result, the metal rod will rust gradually over time until the active metal in it completely disappears. This finally leaves your tank unprotected and vulnerable to rust. Hence it is extremely important to replace your metal rod once it is very rusted and before the tank starts getting affected. If you make sure your water heater is inspected by a professional plumber on a regular basis, catching a dwindling metal rod should be easy. In general, metal rods last for approximately five years, depending on how hard the water is and how much hot water is used in your home.
Choose Your Savior
As mentioned before, the metal rod used in water heaters are of three types and have some significant differences. The most common one is the magnesium rod and is used in modern water heaters. It is very effective in preventing rust, but its weakness is hard water. When in contact with hard water, magnesium rods will break down faster. In such situations, one should consider another material.
Aluminum rods react better to hard water but they too carry a risk. Aluminum exposure may cause health problems and are risky for worsening conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. As a precaution, you are advised to prevent yourself from drinking hot water from a tap that uses an aluminum rod in the tank.
Zinc metal rods contain a major part of aluminum but the little zinc content in it helps to counteract sulfur odors that may be lurking around in the tank.
If your metal rod or water heater needs to be inspected, get in touch with an emergency plumber who will visit your home and give you an appropriate solution for your water heater problems.