Anode rods are an incredible invention made with the purpose of preventing the corrosion of your water tank, thereby lengthening its lifespan. These metal rods are made of special materials that attract all the corrosion-inducing elements in the water, away from the water tank and towards the rod.
These tools are vital to sustaining the durability of your tank. Despite their functionality, not all water heaters actually need an anode rod, particularly some newer models. Keep scrolling to discover just what kind of water heaters require anode rods and which do not.
Glass-lined tank water heaters are most common. The design is older but effective with an anode rod. Each unit comes with an anode rod when bought. There are new models with stainless steel tanks, which don’t need anode rods. Newly-feasible (if not newly-invented) tankless heaters don’t need rods.
Glass-Lined Water Heaters Most Common
The type of water heater you are most likely to come across is the glass-lined water heater. These are extremely common among tank-style heaters.
Glass-lined water heaters are manufactured with a glass lining on the inside of the tank, which aids in reducing the potential of corrosion on the tank itself. Nevertheless, this glass does tend to crack, which will allow the water and all of the corrosive elements to reach the tank. Therefore, it is recommended that an anode rod be installed as well.
Once the glass lining has cracked and split, you won’t need to worry and plan for replacing your entire water heater just yet, unless it’s covered by your warranty and the manufacturer is happy to replace it for free. The anode rod will continue to do its duty in attracting the corrosive elements in the water, repelling them from the tank itself.
The first anode rod should come with the newly purchased water heater, but you will need to buy the replacement rods separately. Yes, this is an added cost, but never replacing an anode rod is as bad as removing it altogether.
Obviously, if you did not have an anode rod in this kind of water heater, the lifespan of the heater will be significantly reduced as corrosion will occur rather quickly after the effectiveness of the glass-lining becomes reduced over time.
Stainless Steel Water Heaters Don’t Need Anode Rods
Stainless steel water heaters are a relatively new introduction to the water heater world, with stainless steel only having been discovered just over a century ago. This discovery led to a variety of improvements in technology all over the world, including the realization that it would be a suitable material for a water heater tank in the 1960s.
These tanks do not require a glass lining or the addition of an anode rod as their chemical and physical composition (more specifically, the presence of chromium) makes them resistant to rust. Chromium reacts so readily with the corrosive elements that the metal tank gets covered in a layer of chromium oxide, which is inert.
If you are worried that this is not a truly protective coating, remember that stainless steel is used inside the human body based on this same property.
These water heaters are incredibly durable and long-lasting, so even though you might flinch when swiping your credit card when purchasing one, it is definitely a great investment as you will not need to replace it anywhere near as often as you would with other kinds of water heaters and you wouldn’t have to pay for replacement anode either.
These tanks can last nearly two decades with the appropriate maintenance, so the added cost will really save you long-term as you will avoid regular repairs or replacements.
Since there is minimal chance of your stainless steel water heater rusting, there is really no need for an anode rod, as the lifespan of your tank will not be reduced by any corrosion.
Stainless steel water heaters seem to be much better than glass-lined water heaters. However, there is a reason why stainless steel models are not the most common. You can find this reason, along with a comprehensive comparison in Glass Lined Water Heater vs Stainless Steel: Which is best?
Tankless Water Heaters Don’t Need Anode Rods
Since the very essence of anode rods is to prevent the rusting and corrosion of water tanks, then it makes sense that a tankless water heater would not need one at all.
Although invented in the early 1900s, tankless water heaters were really only a feasible option in the late part of the century when major countries began to investigate and adopt new energy-efficient methods.
No more waiting for your water heater to fill up before taking a hot shower. These types of water heaters do not require an additional tank for the storage of hot water as they are able to heat water immediately, providing a continuous supply of hot water.
Besides the fact that these heaters do not have a tank, and therefore don’t need an anode rod, there are a variety of situations in which they would be preferable to tank-style water heaters. For instance, if your home does not use that much hot water on a daily basis, say there are only one or two of you living there, then your water and energy bills will be reduced quite significantly.
These tanks might be heavy on the wallet, but they tend to last over 20 years, and you won’t be stressing about having to replace and repair tanks or anode rods.