Hot Water System Maintenance Tips
Have you ever wondered why your hot water system - a steel tank full of water - doesn’t rust? The answer is the sacrificial anode.
A sacrificial anode, also known as an anode rod, is a small metal rod connected to the inside of a hot water tank. Sacrificial anodes are typically composed of a steel wire surrounded by magnesium or aluminium, and are usually located at the top of the tank.
Note: some hot water systems may have multiple sacrificial anodes.
The purpose of a sacrificial anode is to become rusted as a result of the water in the tank. But what makes it so important?
Hot water storage tanks are usually made of steel which, when exposed to water and oxygen, will rust. In order to prevent the hot water tank from rusting and needing replacing, a sacrificial anode, made of a metal that is more easily corroded than steel (such as magnesium or aluminium), is attached to the tank.
The water inside the tank will then cause the metal of the sacrificial anode to rust, as it is the easier of the two metals, leaving the steel storage tank intact and unaffected. This means that a hot water tank without a sacrificial anode would soon rust out and need replacing.
Similarly, once all of the metal on the sacrificial anode has been corroded, the water will begin to corrode the steel tank. That’s why it’s important to regularly check and replace the sacrificial anode before it has been completely corroded.
The lifespan of a sacrificial anode depends on both the quality of the anode itself and the condition of the water. For example, soft water (water where salt has been added) will corrode metal more quickly, which will reduce the lifespan of the anode.
As the sacrificial anode will only protect the hot water tank when there is still metal on it to corrode, it is important to check the condition of the anode annually. Once the rod has deteriorated to a point where part of the wire in the centre of the anode can be seen, you will need to replace it.
Replacing the anode before it has completely deteriorated is essential as once the anode is gone, your hot water system will rust out and you’ll have to buy a new system.
To check the condition of the sacrificial anode in your hot water system, first, refer to the owner’s manual to find out if the rod is easily accessible. Typically, you should be able to see the hexagonal head of the anode at the top of the water tank where it has been screwed in.
If you don’t have access to the owner's manual or you’re not sure where the anode is located, it is best to hire a professional to avoid causing accidental damage to your system.
To get the most out of your hot water system it is important to have it regularly maintained by a professional. Not only will they check and replace the sacrificial anode when needed, your hot water specialist will also service your hot water system to ensure that it is running as efficiently as possible.
Call your local hot water specialists at Sun City on 1300 728 122 to book in a hot water system health checkup and service.