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Old 11-15-2011, 11:20 PM   #1
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how long should a water heater anode rod last?

took ours out to drain the water from the hot water tank, and was rather surprised to see it was in sad shape after just 5-6 camping trips. The rod was severly pitted the entire length, and had corrode about 75% through at the neck. I was concerned it could have broken off inside the tank.

There was also a great deal od grey sediment that came out with the water.

Is this normal?
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:34 PM   #2
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Most of the corrosion depends on the water you are using. You also mention 5 or 6 trips, but that has nothing to do with it, what is it's age, and do leave the tank full between trips? My anode rod is lees than 5o percent used, 3 years old, 70 nights camping, but I drain the tank when I get home. The anode rod is designed to corrode, so if you leave the tank fu;; of water, it will do it's job, and corrode, even while parked and the water heater not being used.

Not much an answer to your question, just an explanation.
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Old 11-15-2011, 11:37 PM   #3
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to that point - it is 2 years old, but as far as I know, had never been drained. It has been full ever since we purchased it in June 2011. The dealer stated it had been used 2-3 times the prior summer. From the looks of it, he was telling the truth.
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Old 11-16-2011, 05:32 AM   #4
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I change out the anode rod almost every year.
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:41 AM   #5
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I just bought a new anode rod,this one is aluminum,the old one was magnesium...which one is better?
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Old 11-16-2011, 08:04 AM   #6
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I just bought a new anode rod,this one is aluminum,the old one was magnesium...which one is better?
I am not sure that it really matters. Both are "less noble" than steel, and will give up metal before steel. Zinc is also in that category.

IF the OPers anode rod doesn't look any worse than this:

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there there is a lot of life left in that puppy. That photo is mine after 3 years, and I don't plan on replacing it for a bunch more years.
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Old 11-16-2011, 10:35 AM   #7
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Drain your tank after every use.
6 years on my anode rod.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:15 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by mtnguy View Post
I am not sure that it really matters. Both are "less noble" than steel, and will give up metal before steel. Zinc is also in that category.

IF the OPers anode rod doesn't look any worse than this:

Attachment 9225

there there is a lot of life left in that puppy. That photo is mine after 3 years, and I don't plan on replacing it for a bunch more years.

pretty close - mine is a little more eaten up. It was how narrow around the neck that made me worry.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:21 AM   #9
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There is a thin "non anode" wire that goes up through the anode rod, keeping everything intact....that is the structural part of the system. The anode wearing away in that area should not be a problem. Most of the anode rods that I have seen deteriorate in the plug area 1st.
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Old 11-16-2011, 11:32 AM   #10
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There is a thin "non anode" wire that goes up through the anode rod, keeping everything intact....that is the structural part of the system. The anode wearing away in that area should not be a problem. Most of the anode rods that I have seen deteriorate in the plug area 1st.

OK - got ya. That is good information. I am used to sacrifical marine anodes that have no non-anode internal structure. once they are eaten through, they are done.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:11 PM   #11
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Y'all must have some hard water in your area.

You might have to replace that puppy in the next couple of years or so.
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Old 11-16-2011, 12:22 PM   #12
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The anode in my tank looks only slightly worse than mtnguy's, and it has four seasons of use. And I don't bother draining in between uses from Memorial Day until Columbus Day.
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Old 11-16-2011, 03:29 PM   #13
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the key is the water. i changed mine out after 8 yrs. never drained the tank. it was abt 75% gone.
urs isn't anywhere near gone.
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Old 11-16-2011, 07:31 PM   #14
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Mine looks a lot like jeeps after a short 2 months of camping on a brand new unit. I had lots of calcium when I drained the other day as well (posted a thread in the pu/AFrame forum).

I may follow the drain after every trip method, not to save on the anode but more to save the heater itself.
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Old 11-18-2011, 01:19 PM   #15
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Do any of you buy it online to save $. If so, where?
Acutally I've not bought one so I don't know the cost. I'll be replace the one in the unit as soon as the sale is final.
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Old 11-18-2011, 02:06 PM   #16
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I got one on eBay for 16 shipped. it was more out of convenience. I did not feel like making a special trip to a dealer which is not really close to me.
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Old 11-18-2011, 02:36 PM   #17
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The anode should be under $20. I purchased mine from the CG store where I was staying for the summer. Will change yearly. I would rather pay $20 per year then having to replace the WH tank because I wanted to save a few dollars.
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Old 11-18-2011, 04:57 PM   #18
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The anode should be under $20. I purchased mine from the CG store where I was staying for the summer. Will change yearly. I would rather pay $20 per year then having to replace the WH tank because I wanted to save a few dollars.
You are correct that $20 per year is not a lot of money, but over 10 years that is $200.....that is a lot of beer money. I have no problem with campers wanting to do that, but I am a cheapskate, and only replace things when necessary.

By my understanding, a new anode rod will not protect your water heater any better than a rod that still has anode material on it. But back side of that is, if all of the anode is used during a season and is no longer there, then corrosion of the water heater may begin. That is why you have to be aware of how much is being used every year, and once that puppy gets down to about 25% or less, replacing the rod is essential so that the anode is not all used up before you pull the plug again.

BTW, I think you can get the anode rods for about $12 to $15 an many camping stores.
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Old 11-21-2011, 03:05 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by mtnguy View Post
I am not sure that it really matters. Both are "less noble" than steel, and will give up metal before steel. Zinc is also in that category.

IF the OPers anode rod doesn't look any worse than this:

Attachment 9225

there there is a lot of life left in that puppy. That photo is mine after 3 years, and I don't plan on replacing it for a bunch more years.
Thats what the one out of our camper looks like maybe not quite as bad. And we just bought the camper and used it for one weekend. I am tempted to call the dealer. I am sure that this camper sat on the lot for a while and may have had water in the tank the whole time before we bought it.
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