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The Basics > Anode Buying Guide

If you're here, you either are trying to make your water heater last longer, or solve an odor problem. Or both. There are solutions for all of those here.

Welcome to the world of anodes and the place to learn exactly which one you need for your water heater. What we're going to be explaining is:

What's It All About?

Anodes protect metal objects from corroding. Sacrificial ones do that by corroding themselves and when they're used up, the cathode -- the piece being protected -- corrodes. In water heaters, we're talking about rust -- ferrous corrosion. And eventually the heater rusts out. Powered anodes do the protecting by feeding current from a wall socket into the water heater. Sacrificial anodes generate this current as they corrode. In neither case is there enough to shock you.

When sacrificial anodes are finally consumed, your tank starts to rust and eventually fails. Powered ones don't get used up, but may eventually break.

Hex Anodes...

... (also known as plug-type) are what is used in most water heaters made today. The picture at right shows a couple of these. The one on the left is aluminum, while the other is a magnesium anode. The latter usually have a bump, but not always and the hex head of the former is usually flat. But the aluminum/zinc anodes we sell also have a bump.

This is how our Anode Buying Guide begins. We tell you all about anodes: what they are, how they work, where they work and which to use for what. We also help you figure out which one your water heater has. And, on another page, Know-How, we teach you how to change your anode and install a flush kit for sediment control, if that's an issue. To access these, you need a subscription:

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