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Galvanic Scale

    The typical sacrificial anode is a straight rod about four feet long and 3/4-inch in diameter. Eventually the anode gets completely eaten away, leaving only a thin steel core with a few bits of the sacrificial metal still clinging to it. The continuing electrochemical reaction then attacks the interior tank surface, speeding up its demise, unless a new sacrificial anode is installed. Shown below is a couple of them pulled from old water heaters by our plumber friend, James Freeman, of J.W. Freeman Plumbing, with almost nothing left below the threaded tank fitting.

     Because it can be impossible to position a four-foot long rod over the top of a water heater (where the anode opening is located) when it is installed in a cramped  space, segmented replacement sacrificial anodes are available, like the one shown below.

    Rheem Manufacturing has an excellent guide to replacing a sacrificial anode that you can download from the link below.


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection


More Blog Posts about Plumbing:

  1. Should I upgrade to a tankless water heater?

  2. What is the purpose of a thermostatic mixing valve above a water heater?

  3. Why does my well pump turn on and off every time I use water?

  4. How old is that water heater?

  5. My air conditioner won’t turn on. What’s wrong?

  6. Should I wrap the water heater with an insulation blanket?

  7. How do I get insurance if my home can’t pass a 4-point inspection?

  8. What’s the powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?

  9. Do you check the plumbing under the floor slab?

  10. Do I have polybutylene pipe? Why is it a problem?

  11. What is causing a foggy haze on my windows?

  12. What is that big thing in the toilet tank?

  13. How do I remove cigarette odor in a house?

  14. What is the difference between water service pipe and water supply pipe?

  15. What’s the flip-up handle on the water heater for?

  16. How come the water has a rotten-egg smell in some empty houses?

  17. My well water test came back positive for bacteria. What should I do?

  18. Do you test the well water?

  19. What is the difference between a regular water heater and a power vent water heater?

  20. How can I tell what type of plumbing pipe I have?

  21. How do you test a shower pan for leaks?

  22. Why is my water heater making strange (rumbling, gurgling, knocking or banging) noises?

  23. What is that pipe sticking out of the ground in the yard?

  24. What is the average lifespan of a water heater?

  25. What are the most common plumbing problems with older houses?

  26. Why are rubber washing machine hoses a safety risk?

  27. What is a dielectric union?

  28. What is a heat pump water heater?

  29. What are the common problems to look for when the plumbing has been replaced in a house?

  30. What is the average life expectancy of copper pipe?

  31. What is the average life expectancy of PVC pipe?

  32. Why is a European-style bottle trap not approved by the plumbing codes in the U.S.?

  33. What is the average life expectancy of CPVC pipe?

  34. What is difference between a single element and dual element electric water heater?

  35. What are the requirements for installing a gas appliance connector?

  36. What is an escutcheon plate?

  37. How do you find a broken water pipe leak under the floor slab?

  38. Which plumbing fixtures require water shut off valves in a home?

  39. What is the minimum and maximum slope of the trap arm of a plumbing drain?