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Question DetailsAsked on 11/24/2014

How long does a tank water heater's anode rod last?

I bought a replacement but it's so long, the WH would have to be removed (nearly impossible) to both check the old &/or install the new.

WATER: has anywhere from 0.5 -3.0 parts per million of chlorine residual
pH is about 7.8
very soft water, with less than one grain of hardness

The bottom line answer goal is to predict the unpredictable, i.e. how long will a top of the line"smart" "LIFETIME" 80g "self cleaning" tank water heater actually last if drained very 2 years?

Past experiences have ironically proved personally that the 6 & 10 year WHs lasted longer than the one lifetime WH purchased once upon a time. Now we have another lifetime WH that would take a jackhammer to get out of its tight quarters IF it went bad.

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Anyone's guess - I have taken out anodes from failed tanks a number of times just to see if that was the cause of failure, and with the exception of a couple of areas - aggressive acidic water eating them away in California desert country and western Nebraska/Wyoming, and very hard mineralized water in Missouri lowlands where iron buildup totally coated the anodes and made them useless, I have never seen an anode dramatically eaten away, even though the heater failed by rust-through - normally at the inlet/outlet pipe threads or through the edge of the crown sheet (bottom fireplate).


In some areas, though, anode replacement is fairly common practice - much more so with well water than public supply, of course.


Personally, I do not change mine at all - just figure after about 20-30 years my 12-15 year Kenmore tanks are about ready to die anyway, so I change them out when I start getting significant flake rust in the water when I flush them out yearly.


Solid zinc anodes (not the perforated plastic type) can be cut shorter to accomodate limited head space - just reduces their life. I have also seen, in areas where they do go bad, careful measurement up to the ceiling above then drilling a hole through the ceiling and the floor above (when carpeted and with carpet and pad pulled back), to provide a straight vertical shot to the water heater - then after installation plug the hole in the sheathing, stretch and fasten carpet and pad back out, and patch the hole over the water heater for fire safety. Easier second time around if hole locations are left visible.


There are also flexible or low headroom (actually segmented, usually) anode rods from Rheem, AO Smith, SDS Supply and others - some are capsules or pellets encased in perforated plastic sheathing (plastic life udbious though), some short rigid lengths mounted on stainless cable between pieces, some screw-together that can be snaked into the hole - having to cut through the old one coming out while being very careful not to drop pieces into the heater, of course. Cost about $50 - near $100 each depending on brand and length.


Like you, I have never seen any longer life from the "Lifetime" heaters - they just charge more to cover the warranty replacement cost (prorated) whe it does go bad, and since it does not cover labor generally they are only paying a couple of hundred $ anyway - the majority of the replacement cost burden (labor) is on you.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD




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