Spring is here! That means that it is time to check the anode rod in your RV water heater. If you don’t know what an anode rod is, then you have come to the right place to find out. In fact, knowing the condition of your anode rod could mean the difference between a $10 to $15 replacement part and a $300 to $500 full water heater replacement. Do we have your attention? Then read on to find out how to perform this easy RV maintenance task.
So what does an anode rod do? To put it simply, an anode rod is a sacrificial lamb that is designed to save your RV water heater. It does so by absorbing the corrosive action of the hot water in the tank. The rod is designed to corrode before the tank does, but if it corrodes entirely, it can no longer do its job and it needs to be replaced.
Depending on your hot water usage, your anode rod may need to be replaced as often as once a year or perhaps even more if you are a full time RVer. The only way to know for sure is to remove the rod and check its condition. If it needs to be replaced, a replacement rod can be purchased at any RV parts store.
To check the anode rod, you will first want to release any pressure in the water heater tank by pulling its relief valve. Now get yourself a deep socket and loosen the threaded anode rod at the bottom of the water heater. See the above photo if you need an idea of what to look for. Next, let all the water drain out of the water heater and flush out any debris with a hose.
Now that you have removed the rod, you can check its condition. You can see from the picture below that ours still has quite a bit of life left in it. That’s good for us… not so good if you want to see a picture of a rod that needs to be replaced. The corroded part is near the top of the rod. Replacement should happen when a little less than half of the rod remains.
Once you have checked the rod, you need to put it (or the replacement rod) back in. To prevent leakage, apply a bit of teflon tape to the threads before screwing in the new anode. Then make sure it is screwed in straight and secure, fill the tank, run a faucet to allow any trapped air to escape from the tank turn on the heater, and you’re all set!