RV Water Heater 101: What is an Anode Rod?





An anode rod is a solid metal cylinder that gets screwed into a water heater’s drain plug to prevent the steel water heater tank from rusting inside. They are made from aluminum, magnesium, or zinc, all metals that will “sacrifice” themselves through electrolysis and save the exposed steel water heater tank from a similar fate.

If you have a Suburban water heater, the tank is porcelain-lined steel and requires an anode rod to prevent corrosion of the steel tank. If you have an Atwood water heater, your water heater tank is aluminum and does not require one. In place of the anode rod you will instead see a plastic drain plug. These caps will need to be replaced from wa


Check The Anode Rod At Least Once A Year

If you have a Suburban water heater, it’s important to check the anode rod when you’re inspecting your water heater. Failure to replace it will result in premature tank wear, possibly lead to a messy tank leak, and can void the warranty.

When an anode rod has lost approximately 75% of it’s original mass, it is time to replace the anode rod. Fortunately, anode rods are relatively inexpensive, usually last a couple years, and are easy to replace.


When winterizing, if you decide to put antifreeze in your water heater- then you can replace it at the beginning of every season.


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