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Questions About A.O. Smith Powered Anodes

Most of the FAQ pages I've seen were pretty worthless. They usually had answers to questions, but rarely MY questions. But we've been asked some of these so many times, it seemed about time to codify them, as well as have a place to put needful information. -- Randy Schuyler

Q: How long is the warranty on the powered anode?

A: The factory warranties it for one year.

Q: Does it get used up?

A: Impressed-current anodes -- that's the technical name -- are not "sacrificial", so they are not consumed during use. They feed a very small amount of electricity into the tank to replace that produced by sacrificial anodes. The electrode is made of titanium. Interestingly, while sacrificial anodes are consumed more rapidly in softened water, powered anodes actually work less hard because higher conductivity makes it easier for electricity to flow between anode and cathode (tank steel).

Q: Could I get electrocuted?

A: No. The amount of current produced is very small, and it stays in the tank.

Q: How do I know if it's working?

A: There is a green LED on rectifierthat will light when it is put into service. Also, though, if it fails, it has an audible alarm that will shriek.

Q: How long is the power cord?

A: Six feet.

Q: How long is the electrode and what is it made of?

A: It's made of titanium and is about 19 inches long.

Q: Do you guarantee that it will solve my odor problem?

A: No, but it probably will. I've been selling CerAnode powered anodes for about 10 years. Their success rate, with about 6500 sold at this time (5/12/19) is two units shy of 100 percent. I've sold Corro-Protec units for several years with no complaints. I only started selling A.O. Smith this year, so I can't say exactly same thing, but it will probably be the same. Here is the reason I won't make that guarantee: I used to, and then a guy said the odor came back after three months; he was one of those two units. I asked him to help me figure out the cause. He wouldn't and demanded his money back. I gave it and then removed any language about guarantees. The reason: if there IS a situation where the device won't work, I want to know about it and steer people away from buying one in those conditions. A sale is pointless unless the problem is solved. This way, you'll have to work with me to figure out a solution, if there is one. Since then, there have been two or three cases where other things were causing the odor, such as bacteria in a shower drain. If there had been a guarantee, I would not have been able to help the customer resolve his problem. There was also a case where someone let the tank stagnate for six months. The link to "The Peroxide Fix" was the result of that. That was the other of the two cases.

All that said, if you are using a water softener, a powered anode is good to have, odor or not, because sacrificial anodes can be rapidly consumed, and then you're replacing the water heater instead of an anode. Since the powered anode doesn't wear out, it's superior in this situation.

Finally, I should add that these powered anodes are meant to be used in residential-type, glass-lined, steel water heaters. People are occasonally tempted to use them in other applications. By that, I mean that this device is meant for glass-lined steel water heaters that have anodes that installed in the top and hanging straight down. If you have something different, the factory and I can't be sure what will happen, so we discourage such uses, and they may void the warranty. If in doubt, ask.

For now, specifically, I warn you off using this in stainless steel tanks, Vertexes, and multi-anode indirect-fired heaters. The powered anode is set to protect a small amount of exposed steel in a glass-lined water heater, not the vast expanse of a stainless tank. The latter two have complicated internal architectures that may prevent a powered anode from protecting all parts of the tank.

Q: Will it void the warranty of my water heater?

A: No, if your water heater is 50 gallons or less, less than 10 years old, and made by American, A.O. Smith, A.O. Smith Canada, GSW, John Wood, Lochinvar, Reliance, State Industries, U.S. Craftmaster, and Whirlpool. It could void the warranty for Bradford Whites and Rheem/Ruud/Richmond/GE heaters.

Note: We've had two cases over the past eight years, among thousands of anodes sold, of the device causing AM radio interference. If you encounter this, putting the power supply in a Faraday Cage may solve the problem.

-- Randy Schuyler

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