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If you’re like most people, you probably use warm water from the faucet to wash your fruits and veggies, and we all know that a little hot water from the tap makes cooking food that much faster. What you may not know is that the anode rod in your water heater can cause aluminum toxicity due to rust! Yikes!

What is an anode rod?

Anode Rods are designed to attract corrosive elements in the water, thereby diminishing corrosion in the steel liner. Corrosion happens with three things: oxygen, iron, and water, which there are plenty of in a water heater’s tank! Although modern water heaters have a thing layer of glass encasing the tank, water can still get into cracks and create rust. Anode rods act as a sacrificial metal element that gives electrons to the steel tank and reduces rust to extend the life of your water heater. Anode rods are made from magnesium or aluminum.

Many plumbers prefer magnesium anode rods because they produce a stronger current, making them more effective at keeping the water heater tank from corroding. However, they may react with bacteria, causing a sulfurous smell. Aluminum rods don’t react to bacteria but can create other harmful problems for your family’s health.

Where’d you go, anode?

Unfortunately, a sacrificial anode rod is called that for a reason; it is sacrificing itself to save the lining of your water heater tank. At some point, all of the rod’s aluminum will have corroded away and it will no longer have electrons to give up in order to save the tank from rusting.

When an Anode rod has corroded, the water heater’s tank can begin to rust, which will cause the water heater to fail. This allows aluminum to leak into your hot water.

Are you drinking aluminum?

Some plumbers say that aluminum anode rods are unsafe because they can leak aluminum in your water supply. Therefore it’s important to use only cool water for eating and drinking purposes. There are clinical studies suggesting that aluminum toxicity might be a contributing factor in Alzheimer’s disease, and brain and bone disease.

While it should be noted that most of these studies focused on the aluminum added by water treatment plants, there are still many ways you can keep your family safe from aluminum toxicity.

What can you do?

  • Wash fruits and veggies in cool water
  • Run cool water from the tap prior to drinking
  • Schedule a checkup with a licensed plumber

To prevent aluminum toxicity, it is vital that you have your anode rod inspected every 2-4 years. Check your manufacturer’s recommendations to see when your particular water heater needs an anode rod change. It is important to note that a home warranty will not cover a water heater that rusted if the anode rod had not been properly maintained. For other water heater tips see our blog here.

Protect your home from aluminum toxicity! Schedule a tune up today and ask about anode rod maintenance!