Friday, April 2, 2010

Water Heater Anode Rod

When I drained our water heater down in Oklahoma City, the anode rod was pulled out and tossed in the back bin with the tools and guy stuff.  It was wet and covered in corrosion so I never really looked at it.  Yesterday as I was parking the coach, I got it out and studied it.

It had corroded down to a small diameter near the actual plug that it is mounted on, but the rest of the rod seemed to only be covered in barnacles from the nasty Arizona water.  I looked at it and thought boy I had better get another on of these, as I sure don't want that thing to break off in the water heater tank.

So this morning, I drove out to Gardner, Ks which is West and South of here where the local RV dealer is located.  I took the anode rod along to make sure I would get the correct one.  Marching into the parts department, they asked what I wanted.

The lady was really quick to tell me that there wasn't anything wrong with the one I had.   I responded with my standard "Really?"  In a more quizzical manner than a disagreeing voice.

As both the lady and the parts guy, who had come in to back her up, explained, the anode has a hard steel rod down the center of the aluminum or magnesium  rod.  I thought they were zinc, but I guess not.  The anode gives off its electrons and slowly disintegrates.  But the steel rod in the center does not!  She brought out a plug that had nothing left but the center steel rod.  Now this one is used up she said.  Compared to that one mine was brand new.

She explained that the center rod is harder than the water heater tank material and it will almost never break off, and that stories about fishing the broken piece out of a heater are just that "stories."

So feeling a bit dopey that I didn't know something basic about RVing, I went on to talk to the Blue Ox representative who just happened to be there.  He was pointing out the finer points of why Blue Ox tow bars are superior to the others.  He kept motioning over at the Roadmaster as he talked but never used their name.

He is right, the Blue Ox seems about twice as stout, and costs only a little more.  I came away armed with literature!  I suppose he logged me as a customer convinced.

I left the dealership and hadn't spent any money, but impressed, as they could have just as easily sold me a new anode and I would have come home and installed it thinking that was the right thing to do.  And perhaps I would have told you kind folks all about it, never knowing how wrong I would have been.  So log Olathe Ford RV as honest folks!

Don't you kind of wonder how many times we fall into that trap, and never know that we look so novice to those that make their living from these things?

Retired Rod


  1. Thanks for the explanation on the anode! I'll have to check mine when we get home and now that I know what to look for I just might save myself a few bucks. It's always nice to run across an honest dealer!

  2. My 3 cents... anode rod is very important part inside your water heater as it protects the metal tank from corrosion. It is consumed over time as it reacts with the aggressive water condition so regular checkup can save you time and money after.

    They last on average few years, more warranty you have on the heater, better anode is.

    Some RV water heaters don't have anode (I think Suburban), as their tank is not made of steel or have a protective coating.

    Anyhow, for more info about RV water heaters, look here:


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