RV Water Heater Anode Rod: Everything You Need To Know

RV Water heaters are popular among users. This is a free-standing appliance that provides hot water quickly and only when you request it. As you look inside the machine, you will see an anode rod, and it is common to wonder what is the purpose of this rod inside a water heater. 

Anode rods are made of metal and play an essential role in preventing your water heater’s rust inside the tank. Hence, these heaters also come with anode rods. But, the use of anode rods isn’t that simple, and you will need to know more about them.

So, if you are wondering about the RV Water Heater Anode Rod, we are here to help you with everything you need to know about it.


Things you should know about RV Anode Rod

Before you find a suitable anode rod for your RV water heater, you will need to know a few things about them.

What does an anode rod do in water tank? 

An anode rod’s function is to draw silt and other corrosive agents from the water so that they corrode themselves instead of the interior of your hot water system tank. They are built of materials that will “sacrifice” themselves during electrolysis, such as aluminum, magnesium, or zinc.

What type of metal is used for metal for anode rod?

The most common material for RV anode rods is magnesium, and they are really durable over the long run. It is seen that magnesium anode rods will perform much better in a house with plain water. 

However, an aluminum rod should be used if the water has a high pH. But, if the water in your house is beginning to stink, you may also use a zinc rod. This is great for restoring heating systems that have already disintegrated.

How Do I Know If My Rv Water Heater Anode Is Bad? 

Anode rods do not last for years after years, and hence you will need to check and replace them when they become bad. So, read below to learn how to detect a bad RV water heater anode rod.

  • Bad Smell

Your water will start to smell like rotten eggs if the anode rod has gone bad, and this is one of the first symptoms you will face with a bad anode rod.

  • Discoloration in water

Another common symptom is discoloration in the water. Look for debris or rust in the draining water. If you find an unusual color of water along with debris and dirt then the anode rod is surely damaged and needs replacement.

  • Anode Rod dissolved

More than 75% of the rod dissolving will indicate a faulty RV anode. Simply inspect the rod; if the bulk of it appears to have dissolved, the rod is damaged and will no longer function correctly.

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How To Replace Rv Water Heater Anode Rod?

If you see that your RV water heater anode rod is damaged, then you will need to replace it asap to protect your water heater and tank from getting corroded. Read our step-by-step guide below to learn how to change the rod properly. 

Step 1: Gathering Equipment

The first step is gathering all the equipment you will need during the Rv anode rod replacement process.

  • Teflon thread tape 
  • Replacement RV water heater anode road. Make sure that the rod you are getting is compatible with your water heater model.
  • 1-1/16 inch socket wrench.

Step 2: Turn Off all the connections

Before you start, you will turn off all the connections like water supply, heater, and electricity. So, always unplug your heater from the main water source. However, if your RV heater works with propane, then turn off that also. 

Step 3: Empty the tank

Put it on a hot water valve to completely empty the heated water from the reservoir. You can reach the drain plug by removing the access panel for the external RV water heater. 

Remove the tank’s drain cap by turning it. With a socket wrench, the drain stopper should be simple to remove because it measures 1-1/16″. For a huge hexagonal fitting, search the tank’s bottom. Once you remove it, the water will gently drain out.

Step 4: Time to remove the Anode rod

You must be aware of where to search. Follow the manual or search the internet about your RV water heater’s entrance position. View the interior by opening it up. You should notice a hex bolt towards the bottom, the anode rod. Check it out by unscrewing it.

However, you must move within your camper to remove the anode rod from six- or ten-gallon propane gas heaters with their anode bar in the front lower section of the tank. In order to remove the anode from the tank, you will need to use a socket.

Step 5: Replacing the Anode rod

You have already successfully opened the anode rod from the Rv water heater. Now you will need to place the new rod there. To avoid leaks, you can begin by covering the new threads in Teflon tape. 

To achieve a strong sealing from leaks, roll the adhesive over the threads loads of times in the clockwise direction. Additionally, the Teflon tape will grease the threading to make removal simpler during subsequent checks.

Then, using a socket wrench, tighten the new anode in the exact location as the previous one. However, do not put too much pressure on them while tightening them.

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How Often Should You Replace An Rv Water Heater Anode Rod? 

You will need to understand that an anode rod’s lifespan depends on various variables, including the hardness of your water, the type of RV water heater, and more. Generally, you should check your RV water heater anode once every year. 

Forgetting to remove a damaged anode rod might invalidate the guarantee and cause early tank deterioration and leakages.

What Happens If You Don’t Replace The Anode Rod In The Water Heater? 

If you do not replace the anode rod in the water heater, then there can be many issues which we will discuss below. 

The water tank will be damaged quickly

Anode aids in preventing the corrosion of your tank that results from your water heater’s reaction to corrosive materials. Therefore, failing to repair the broken anode rod may cause your tank to react with corrosive elements and eventually suffer rust damage, reducing tank life.

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Tank Might Burst

The metal water tank will be the target of all harm if the anode rod sustains complete damage. Your tank will start to erode and tarnish; as it becomes weaker, it will fracture and finally burst.

The faucet will clog frequently

A slimy substance will form on the aerators, and as a result, this slimy substance will frequently clog the aerators. Therefore, a broken anode will prevent the normal flow of water. You will observe an interruption in the water flow as a result.

Water will smell bad

If you do not replace the damaged anode rod, another problem you will suffer from is smelly water. The water will soon seem to smell like rotten eggs, which can be pretty irritating and might cause severe health issues in the long run.

Debris in the water

As the tank starts to react with corrosive materials due to a bad anode, the tank will begin to rust. Thus, these rusts will be mixed in the water, and hence water will be full of small pieces of dust and debris.

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How To Maintain RV anode Road To Last Long?

Even though replacing RV anode rods is easy, replacing them every now and then can be annoying. So, to ensure that they last longer, we have a few quick tips below, which you can follow.

  • Keep the temperature of your water regulated as too many fluctuations in the temperature can damage the RV anode rod more quickly.
  • Regularly clean and maintain your water tank so that no dirt can accumulate in the tank for very long.
  • Choose the anode rod according to the type of water which will make them last longer. 


Rv Water heater anode rods are not expensive, but the water tanks are. So, anode rods should be replaced as soon as you find them to be damaged. If you want to ensure longer life of your water tank, you must replace the magnesium anode as soon as they lose 50% of the original mass. 

Make sure to check your anode at least once a year to find out whether it needs replacement. Also, do not forget to regularly maintain your tank, as leaving them unmaintained for long can cause the anode to get damaged more frequently. 

If you fail to replace the damaged anode on time, it could damage your tank seriously. Thus, if this happens, you will have no option but to replace the whole water tank.

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