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Old 08-21-2019, 03:23 PM   #1
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Anode from Suburban Hot Water Tank

While camping recently (@ 9,200' elevation, tho' I can't imagine elevation would affect the hot water tank) I noticed a lot of small, white particles coming out with our hot water.

I assume they came from the anode. So I removed it today.

Except near where it screws into the tank, it doesn't look in bad shape.

Anyway, I flushed the tank (and mm size chuncks of what appeared to be the anode came out with the water) and changed out the anode with a new one.

Your thoughts? Why white particles? Why one end of the anode deteriorating, but not equally all the way along?

Thank you, in advance, for your thoughts.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:33 PM   #2
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In ours the white particles appear to be calcium deposits from the water here.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:37 PM   #3
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That is the way the sacrificial anode works, it sacrifices itself to prevent rust inside. The white residue is the anode. At least once a year you flush out the inside using a special attachment.
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Old 08-21-2019, 03:41 PM   #4
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It's probably hard water.. we have one of those hot water dispenser at home, and for the month or so that our city water supply becomes hard water because of maintenance switch over, we get those white deposit in the water dispenser too.
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Old 08-21-2019, 04:44 PM   #5
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That anode looks good for several years yet, depending on where you get your water. First pic is mine after 6 years or so.
Next is good anode and what it looks like when it needs replacement.
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Old 08-21-2019, 06:32 PM   #6
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As a matter of course and personal concern, I pull the anode a couple times a year andmflush the tank with a hose nozzle. Lots of white flaky pieces come out after a couple flushings. Then I put my little finger in the anode hole and stir around the residual “sand” that’s in the very front crease of the water heater on the bottom by the anode “fitting area. I adjust the hose spray to the widest flare and barely insert the nozzle and the grit comes free and washes out. In the fall when i winterize i flush the tank and then leave the anode out for the winter. I flush in the spring before reinserting the anode and usually get some flakes that have come loose during the winter. Probably overkill but after maintaining 6 municipal swimming pools for several years, you do what you can to prolong life of any tank, vessel, or plumbing.
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Old 08-21-2019, 07:26 PM   #7
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Thank you, all for your replies. From what Iowa Dave (and other) indicates, I guess I need to flush the tank a little more.
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Old 08-21-2019, 10:19 PM   #8
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Thank you, all for your replies.
Just a personal experience. I camped in a location with highly mineralized water for 3 months. When I cleaned out my water heater the anode was absolutely at the end of its life and there were about 2 cups of sediment. A lot of the sediment was linear and curved to match the shape of the heating element. I assume the hard deposits were forming and falling off when the heating element was working.

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Old 08-21-2019, 10:33 PM   #9
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Hm... Heating element... That might make sense. I was using the electric heating element for the first time ever just before I noticed the tiny white particles showing up in the hot water. Maybe using it precipitated the issue
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Old 08-22-2019, 09:21 AM   #10
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Hm... Heating element... That might make sense. I was using the electric heating element for the first time ever just before I noticed the tiny white particles showing up in the hot water. Maybe using it precipitated the issue


Doesn’t matter which heater element you use. Or even if you use one at all. If you put hard water into the water heater, the anode will react with it, as it’s designed and intended to, and will turn into white chunks that slough off. That’s what it’s there for, and in so doing keeps the chemically reactive water you’re putting in from eating your tank. Looks like whatever water supply you’re using is on the harder end of the scale, so be sure to check your anode regularly, perhaps a couple times per year. I’d suggest having a spare standing by on hand and ready to go for when the original gets all penciled-out.
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:15 AM   #11
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As others mentioned, how fast it deteriorates depends on thee water. I lost about 1/8 of my anode the first year, but was down to a small chunk of material & the wire at the end of the second year.

I prefer the magnesium anode over the aluminum since it offers better protection, but they are harder to find, and if you have poor water, are consumed far faster than aluminum.
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Old 08-22-2019, 10:41 AM   #12
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I have this nifty Zinc anode, tank drain package that I purchased years ago. https://www.walmart.com/ip/RV-Water-...8cf3ae7219ed28
not sure if zinc is okay?
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:22 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by cpaharley2008 View Post
I have this nifty Zinc anode, tank drain package that I purchased years ago. https://www.walmart.com/ip/RV-Water-...8cf3ae7219ed28
not sure if zinc is okay?


I thought zinc was linked to brain warts...?
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:29 AM   #14
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I have this nifty Zinc anode, tank drain package that I purchased years ago. https://www.walmart.com/ip/RV-Water-...8cf3ae7219ed28
not sure if zinc is okay?
It's really an aluminum anode with a little zinc mixed in. Zinc helps get rid of a rotten egg smell from sulphur in the water but is less effective for preventing corrosion than a magnesium anode.

https://lahaaland.com/water-heater-a...m-vs-magnesium

Aluminum anodes last longer than magnesium anodes but don't protect as well and aluminum in water is believed to be a factor in causing Alzheimer's disease.
https://universityhealthnews.com/dai...imers-disease/

Granted, most people don't drink the water out of the hot water heater but it still scares me. You might want to switch back to magnesium.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:52 AM   #15
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I figured if the purpose of the anode is to sacrifice itself to protect the tank, that you don't want one that lasts longer, because it's not working as hard.
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Old 08-22-2019, 11:57 AM   #16
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I'm not interested in the longevity as I am in installing that nifty drain valve set up to eliminate that awkward removal and reinstalling the conventional anode rod.
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Old 08-22-2019, 12:04 PM   #17
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An anode costs about $10. It probably lasts a year or more, so why drain your tank? The time you use draining and filling the hot water tank could be better spent, in my opinion.
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Old 09-02-2019, 10:44 PM   #18
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This is my first RV. After 3 weeks we arrived home from BC, parked in our driveway. Opened the fresh water tank to drain it. About a week later I thought to drain the hot water tank. As was unscrewing the anode it shot out of the tank and across the lawn with tremendous force. I guess the last campground we were in had pressurized the hot water tank. I had not opened a facet to relieve it. Fortunately I was not looking at the anode as I was removing it or I'd now be going by the nickname "one-eye" !

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Old 09-03-2019, 07:18 AM   #19
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Old 09-03-2019, 08:30 AM   #20
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This is my first RV. After 3 weeks we arrived home from BC, parked in our driveway. Opened the fresh water tank to drain it. About a week later I thought to drain the hot water tank. As was unscrewing the anode it shot out of the tank and across the lawn with tremendous force. I guess the last campground we were in had pressurized the hot water tank. I had not opened a facet to relieve it. Fortunately I was not looking at the anode as I was removing it or I'd now be going by the nickname "one-eye" !



Bob


At least you didn’t remove the anode while the water was still hot. I might know someone who did that. Once.
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