Category Archives: Water Heater

5 Easy Plumbing New Year’s Resolutions

The New Year is a positive time for most of us. We’re inspired with hope by the idea of a fresh start and what the year may bring. Then there’s all the New Year’s Resolutions. So many of us resolve to save money or get our bodies in shape – but what about also getting your plumbing in shape this year? Here at PlumbingSupply.com® we’ve come up with 5 nifty plumbing-related resolutions that we think everyone should try over the course of the new year!

 

Drawing of trees 1. Go green.

Water is one of our most precious natural resources – we cannot live without it, and yet there is a very limited supply. If you’re thinking of doing a kitchen, bathroom, or laundry room remodel this year, choose water-efficient faucets and low flow shower heads or place a point-of-use water heater in areas where you consistently run the taps while waiting for the water to heat up. Outdoors, you can install a drip-irrigation system instead of a new sprinkler or consider setting up your own rainwater harvesting system to collect water to use in watering plants or washing your car.

 

picture of toilet2. Fix your toilet.

It can be helpful to think of your toilet as another appliance in your home. Anything with moving parts can break or wear down – and that includes the moving parts of your toilet. Save water and avoid costly problems later with good maintenance this year.

 

image of water heater tank 3. Flush your water heater.

Ideally, your water heater should last between 10 and 15 years, but without proper maintenance many fail after 5 or 6 years, leaving you frustrated and sometimes causing significant damage to your home. An annual flush and all-around check to make sure all the parts are functioning well can help you avoid cold showers, save you money, and extend the life of your water heater.

 

image of drain4. Keep your drains clog free.

Nobody wants to deal with the hassle (and often major expense) associated with clogged drains. This year, take steps to prevent clogs before they happen by placing mesh screens or strainers in your sinks, tub or shower, etc., not putting anything down the drain or toilet that doesn’t belong (i.e. grease, baby wipes, razors, etc.), and by using non-corrosive, septic-friendly bacterial drain cleaners regularly.

 

image of sand separator5. Install a water filter.

While we’re blessed with an abundance of clean drinkable water in the United States, there are still some things we can and should filter out of our water, like sand, dirt, and unhealthy chemicals. Whether you need a whole house sand separator to keep your drains, faucets, and water heater free of sediment build-up, or just want to eliminate chlorine in your shower with a filtered shower head, purer water is always a good thing.

 

We would like to encourage you throughout the new year to follow these and other plumbing maintenance resolutions you may form, for the benefit of yourself and your family, your neighbors, and our environment. As always, PlumbingSupply.com® wishes you a safe and happy New Year!

 

Understanding Your Anode Rod

A lot of people take their water heater for granted, assuming they can install it and simply forget about it. For the most part, this is true. Tank style water heaters are fairly simple devices and do fine with a minimum of maintenance, so long as your anode rod is doing fine.

Example of a brand new anode rod

A new anode rod

What is an anode rod? The short and simple answer is “Sacrificial rod used mainly in water heaters. It helps protect the lining of and generally lengthens the life of a water heater.” Okay, but what does that mean?

Right. Time for the longer answer.

Plumbing involves metals and water. When these combine, you get this thing called galvanic corrosion. Wikipedia defines galvanic corrosion as “an electrochemical process in which one metal corrodes preferentially to another when both metals are in electrical contact and immersed in an electrolyte.” So your piping, which is one kind of metal, and your tank, which is another kind of metal, and the water, together set the stage for some fantastic galvanic corrosion. This is not good.

Example of an anode rod after one year

After one year

To prevent the tank from rusting or your element from corroding, the brilliant plumbers and/or chemists of long ago created an anode rod for the water heater tank. The idea was that the anode rod would corrode first, leaving the metal of the tank (and element if you have an electric water heater) alone, saving you from a rusted hulk randomly springing leaks.

Most anode rods that come pre-installed in water heaters are formed aluminum or magnesium around a stainless steel cable. When you check your anode rod, you’ll probably see some pitting. That’s exactly what should be happening. However, to keep protecting your tank, replace your anode rod quickly when you can see a good chunk of the cable. Waiting a long time is not a good idea. Having a depleted anode rod WILL shorten the life span of your water heater.

Another problem with waiting too long? The possibility of the old water heater anode rod breaking off and falling to the bottom of the water heater. Doesn’t sound so bad, does it? Unfortunately, the problem then becomes the issue of the loose anode rod bouncing around whenever water travels inside the water heater. This is bad. It will cause cracks in the glass lining of the water heater, which is another way your water heater is protected from rusting, and will radically shorten the life of your water heater.

Anode rods have a life expectancy of about five years but again, it really depends mostly on the quality of your water and how much water travels through your water heater, as well as the qualities of your water. When sodium is added to the water (such as when a water softener is used), anode rods can corrode more quickly. Water softeners can help reduce sediment, but anodes can corrode in as little as six months if the water is over-softened, so try to leave a little bit of hardness in your water, for the sake of the water heater, and definitely make sure to check your anode rod a bit more often if you have a water softener.

Now that we’ve explained how marvelous your water heater anode rod is, get out there and check your water heater! Make sure you know where your anode rod is and see how it’s doing! After all, if you take care of your anode rod, your anode rod will take care of your water heater!

Your turn: What’s your best/worst water heater or anode rod story?