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Magnesium Rod in W/H?

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  • Magnesium Rod in W/H?

    Guys, thought I would ask this question, as I have always wondered why there was a magnesium rod in W/H's? Years ago, when my dads last house was built (~19 yrs ago) the plumber pulled the Magnesium rod, hacked it off and put the stub back in on day one (well water). I was 12, so I really didnt care, or know at the time what was going on, I just remember him doing it. I do recall my dad working on a house where they had complained of low hot water levels, and the plumber couldnt even get the rod out, and I swear he said it was due to mineral deposits building up on the rod. Its an old question that I had, so I am sure you guys know the answer.

  • #2
    Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

    The anode rod is made of a softer metal than the tank and is there in theory make the tank last longer, because it is dissolved before the water begins to eat away at the tank. In water where there is a lot of lime it is not uncommon to see the lime adhere to the anode rod. Usually all thats left after five years is a thin metal wire. In some water, this causes a sulfer dioxide or rotten egg smell. Water heater manufacturers claim that this is a build up of bacteria and the way to remedy it is to chlorinate the water, and/or replace the rod with one made of an aluminum alloy. However, we all know the only sure-fire way to fix the problem is to remove the rod completely. Of course, cut the rod off and replace the cap. I did cure the problem once by using a whole house filter designed for hot water with a carbon filter.
    Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

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    • #3
      Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

      Originally posted by Devine Plumbing View Post
      The anode rod is made of a softer metal than the tank and is there in theory make the tank last longer, because it is dissolved before the water begins to eat away at the tank. In water where there is a lot of lime it is not uncommon to see the lime adhere to the anode rod. Usually all thats left after five years is a thin metal wire. In some water, this causes a sulfer dioxide or rotten egg smell. Water heater manufacturers claim that this is a build up of bacteria and the way to remedy it is to chlorinate the water, and/or replace the rod with one made of an aluminum alloy. However, we all know the only sure-fire way to fix the problem is to remove the rod completely. Of course, cut the rod off and replace the cap. I did cure the problem once by using a whole house filter designed for hot water with a carbon filter.
      Darn, thats a good answer!

      (I was wondering what the rotten-egg smell was from with a couple of my customers, I assumed it was well-water issue, not a hot-water issue)
      Water Heater Reviews & Water Heater Information

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      • #4
        Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

        The easiest way I have found to remove these is with a cordless impact wrench and an 1 1/16" socket, unless of course the anode rod is built into the bottom of the hot dielectric nipple.
        Distractions are everywhere, don't lose sight of your dream.

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        • #5
          Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

          bump

          I have the same situation with a customer who is on a well. 99.9% of my customers are on city supplied Lake Michigan water that is treated by the City of Chicago. Should I even bother changing the anode rod to AL or should I just cut the magnesium one off?

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          • #6
            Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

            For Bradford White electric water heaters (which most are electric who are on a well) the anode rod is part of the hot side nipple so it's very easy to remove. Funny this was brought up. Just got off the phone to order another anode rod for exactly this problem for a B/W I installed a few months back. If it's a Bradford White you will want the "A420" Aluminum anode rod to resolve the rotten egg smell.

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            • #7
              Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

              It's a GE (Rheem) 40 gallon gas heater installed by others (not me) last year

              thanks ranger

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              • #8
                Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                I had no idea the egg smell could come from the anode....... I always assumed it was from well water.

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                • #9
                  Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                  Be aware if you are cutting the anode and removing it you will be voiding your warranty. It is there for a good reason, and you can switch between aluminum and magnesium for the rods depending on h2o conditions. I carry spare rods in my van for when I do service on tanks. Only takes a couple minutes to check and replace if necessary.

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                  • #10
                    Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                    People with a family history of Alzheimer's disease should avoid aluminum, be it in soda cans or hot water tanks.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                      Originally posted by Plumbus View Post
                      People with a family history of Alzheimer's disease should avoid aluminum, be it in soda cans or hot water tanks.
                      do you have a link to an article about that? I've never heard that before but would like to know more about it

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                      • #12
                        Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                        Originally posted by shock1964 View Post
                        Be aware if you are cutting the anode and removing it you will be voiding your warranty. It is there for a good reason, and you can switch between aluminum and magnesium for the rods depending on h2o conditions. I carry spare rods in my van for when I do service on tanks. Only takes a couple minutes to check and replace if necessary.
                        I was going to use aluminum and try to have it sent from GE to the customer as it is still under warranty. Not sure if they will actually send one, but it's worth a shot I guess

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                        • #13
                          Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                          Originally posted by Swade Plumbing View Post
                          do you have a link to an article about that? I've never heard that before but would like to know more about it
                          The expert view on aluminium

                          Since the idea that the metal might be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease was first proposed there have been numerous conferences on aluminium and health. The medical research community, international and government regulatory agencies and the aluminium industry all review the evidence at frequent intervals. The overwhelming medical and scientific opinion is that the findings .... do not convincingly demonstrate a causal relationship between aluminium and Alzheimer's disease, and that no useful medical or public health recommendations can be made − at least at present (Massey and Taylor 1989).

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                          • #14
                            Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                            Magnesium is not "softer" than steel, as someone mentioned. It is at the bottom of the activity series, also called the nobility series, of metals. When an electrolyte ( water) allows current to flow between two different metals, the less noble metal will be corroded, or sacrificed, to protect the more noble metal. The anode is also referred to as a sacrificial anode. Zinc anode blocks are used widely in the maritime arena, including the navy, to protect hull and tank structures.

                            Something about a reaction of magnesium with something in well water can cause the odor.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Magnesium Rod in W/H?

                              Love the USA, I am guessing they use the magnesium over aluminum due to aluminum being lower on that scale, meaning it deteriorates faster than magnesium? I should look into swapping in an aluminium rod, my well water from time to time stinks pretty bad.

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