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Old 03-30-2023, 07:29 PM   #1
AlaskaJeff
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Water heater anode

I've had my fifth wheel for 5 years now, using it only for about 6 months a year, usually in Arizona with well water, from October to April. I used the water heater in electric mode until last October. At that time, because electrical rates were so high at my current RV park, I decided to use propane and only turn it on when I actually was going to use the hot water. The anodes, for the first four years, were whittled down to just about nothing. This year when I went to change the anode, it was like brand new. It appears, too, that my tank is practically scale free as compared to previous years. I would assume it could be electrolysis from using the tank in electric mode which caused the anode to almost completely degrade? Or could it be that I didn't have constant heat going to the tank? I'm not complaining! But I am curious as to how my anode survived 6 months with little corrosion. Thanks.
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Old 03-30-2023, 08:14 PM   #2
bobbecky
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Did you replace the magnesium anode with an aluminum anode? If you did, it's likely that the aluminum anode is not sacrificing itself to protect the tank, which is what happens to the magnesium anode when it is leaving the white crud inside the tank. It does not matter whether you are using the water heater in electric or gas mode, the anode will protect the tank in either mode. The water heater comes from the factory with a magnesium rod, and if the rod lasts a year, it should continue to be replaced with a magnesium rod. Only when water conditions cause the rod to deteriorate faster than that, should an aluminum rod be considered. This is copied and pasted from the Suburban manual:

The tank in this water heater is protected by a magnesium or aluminum anode to prolong the life of the tank by absorbing the corrosive action of hot water. Under normal use, the anode rod will deteriorate and because of this, we recommend it be replaced yearly. NOTE: Water with high levels of iron and/or sulfate will increase the rate of deterioration; therefore, more frequent replacement may be required. If anode rod is mostly eaten away, replace it with a new one.
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Old 03-30-2023, 09:34 PM   #3
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Yep, I used an aluminum anode as opposed to magnesium. I thought I read somewhere in this forum, I could be wrong, that aluminum would be better in the long run and I believe that's why I went that way. I had used magnesium in the past and I think they did a great job. I am on my way to Phoenix tomorrow and will pick up a couple of magnesium rods. Thank you very much for the insight.
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Old 03-30-2023, 09:45 PM   #4
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Well, I just looked at my Amazon orders and saw that I had ordered magnesium rods for the past several years. Interestingly, I ordered a couple of magnesium rods to be delivered to an Amazon Locker in Phoenix last fall. I remember when I got to the locker my code would not open the locker door, and come to find out there was an issue with that particular Amazon locker on McDowell Road (technical problems, according to Amazon). Anyway, since I couldn't get my order, I stopped at Camping World in Avondale on the way home and picked up these aluminum anodes. Thanks again for your help and for jogging my memory!
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Old 03-31-2023, 07:59 AM   #5
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From my experience the magnesium rod tend to give the hot water a rotten egg smell or at least in my case that smell went away when I replaced it with an aluminum rod. YMMV!
I've never had a water tank leak, have mostly used aluminum rods. I believe the rate at which the rod degrades is as much to do with the quality of the incoming water. My last rig I used 2 filters, 1 for sediment & 1 with charcoal to improve taste, a filter before & after the water softener, with this setup I got about 2 years service from the anode rod along with good tasting water & crystal clear ice cubes every where we connected.
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Old 03-31-2023, 11:07 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbecky View Post
Did you replace the magnesium anode with an aluminum anode? If you did, it's likely that the aluminum anode is not sacrificing itself to protect the tank, which is what happens to the magnesium anode when it is leaving the white crud inside the tank. It does not matter whether you are using the water heater in electric or gas mode, the anode will protect the tank in either mode. The water heater comes from the factory with a magnesium rod, and if the rod lasts a year, it should continue to be replaced with a magnesium rod. Only when water conditions cause the rod to deteriorate faster than that, should an aluminum rod be considered. This is copied and pasted from the Suburban manual:

The tank in this water heater is protected by a magnesium or aluminum anode to prolong the life of the tank by absorbing the corrosive action of hot water. Under normal use, the anode rod will deteriorate and because of this, we recommend it be replaced yearly. NOTE: Water with high levels of iron and/or sulfate will increase the rate of deterioration; therefore, more frequent replacement may be required. If anode rod is mostly eaten away, replace it with a new one.
I purchased replacements through Amazon, made by Suburban. The description doesn't mention magnesium or aluminum. How would I know which one I have?
The link is below. Thanks

https://www.amazon.com/Suburban-2327...%2C891&sr=8-10
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Old 03-31-2023, 11:30 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kirk's Keystone Outback. View Post
I purchased replacements through Amazon, made by Suburban. The description doesn't mention magnesium or aluminum. How would I know which one I have?
The link is below. Thanks

https://www.amazon.com/Suburban-2327...%2C891&sr=8-10

Here's a different link to the Suburban 232767 anode rod. It's magnesium. If it doesn't come up open the tab for product info;

https://www.anodefactory.com/product...pack-ptfe-tape
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Old 03-31-2023, 12:03 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by sourdough View Post
Here's a different link to the Suburban 232767 anode rod. It's magnesium. If it doesn't come up open the tab for product info;

https://www.anodefactory.com/product...pack-ptfe-tape
Thank you Danny.
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Old 03-31-2023, 07:33 PM   #9
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The original Suburban magnesium anode rod, 232767, seems to have been replaced with 233514, and comes with a stainless steel core wire but still magnesium. These even now come with Teflon tape wrapped around the threads, too. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
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Old 04-01-2023, 01:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbecky View Post
The original Suburban magnesium anode rod, 232767, seems to have been replaced with 233514, and comes with a stainless steel core wire but still magnesium. These even now come with Teflon tape wrapped around the threads, too. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0...?ie=UTF8&psc=1
You’re right!!!!
I went and checked my spare and it was identical to the one you posted. I’m sticking to the OEM, it’s not that much more expensive.
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Old 04-01-2023, 04:05 PM   #11
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Not sure if it makes any difference whether the water heater is used in electric or gas mode. I prefer the aluminum anode as we camp in places where the water is full of minerals and since the anode is intended to be sacrificial I suspect the aluminum does a better job since it will corrode faster. There isn't enough price difference to warrant not using the anode that does the best job as opposed to having the longest life.
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Old 04-06-2023, 02:03 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by wiredgeorge View Post
since the anode is intended to be sacrificial I suspect the aluminum does a better job since it will corrode faster. There isn't enough price difference to warrant not using the anode that does the best job as opposed to having the longest life.
Pretty sure you meant the magnesium corrodes faster. I would prefer to use it, but with the poor piping pathways in my rig, all the sediment falls out of the heater intake on the highway, gets sucked back into the cold water line, and ends up clogging the toilet and cold water fixtures.
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