The following is a post on the message boards from Gary at http://www.qualitywaterassociates.com in response to this thread as I am trying to get to the bottom of why my water heaters only last 3-4 years. The softeners he sells are setup to remove all the hardness (down to 0 gpg). If this doesn’t happen he claims the softener medium itself will start having problems requiring back to back regenerations to shock the system back to life so to speak (and that may not work always). I bought one of his systems 5 years ago (w/ Clack WS-1 valve) and the system itself has worked w/o issue. I pulled the anode rod on my gas water heater and it was basically a nub – not sure how long it was like that but the life on the 12 year Whirlpool gas heater unit was 4 years and 3 months. Would like to see a rebuttal to this from someone more qualified than myself. Also, will the powered anode survive in 0 GPG soft water? I don’t think I have a choice on that based on my particular softener. Gut feeling says I don’t have an electrical problem … no other electrical related issues in my home.
“He is selling a powered rod and is thinking softened water is causing problems with water heaters when much more likely is a glass lining problem. Stray electrical currents can’t get through glass lining, period. And as long as the glass lining is intact, the steel of the tank can’t rust. By design the stray currents are supposed to eat up the rod rather than other metal that the water is in contact with.
The guys that go on about soft water being the cause are misapplying the Langlier Index. That index was invented for cement water pipe with asbestos fiber reinforcement to see if the water quality (naturally soft, aggressive) would erode (dissolve) the cement freeing the asbestos fibers to enter the water stream; that is a serious health problem. They want a hard water scale build up on exposed metal to protect the metal by isolating it from the water; if the glass lining is intact that can’t happen.
If you are eating up anode rods quickly, you have an electrical problem somewhere because ion exchanged soft water is not aggressive or corrosive anymore than the raw water is. Get an electrician to check the grounds on the house and the water heater and check for stray voltage/current due to TV, alarms, phone etc. etc. grounds on the metal water pipes. The jumper you have at the softener might not be making good contact.
The 0 soft they talk about is 0 gpg. Calcium hardness is not total hardness (magnesium must be included) and the 0 gpg is of total hardness, not just calcium hardness.
Again, most water heater failures are caused by electrical problems using up the sacrificial rod much faster than ‘normal’ and then the stray currents eating other metal parts. And the quality and application of the glass lining dictates how long the heater will last. Tanks also rust from the outside in.”