BEWARE of Rust in the Water Heater
Know before it is too late, rust in the water heater can cause multiple problems. You may not know, but most water-heater tanks are made of glass-lined steel. If water gets though imperfections in the glass, then you can count on rust and eventually a leak. But because the tank has no inspection ports, it’s hard to tell when it’s dirty or beginning to rust. Tank rust usually isn’t discovered until after a leak occurs- and then it’s too late. You’re not totally without recourse, though.
A special rod call a cathodic anode (or sacrificial anode) is built in to the water-heater tank assembly to prevent rust. As long as the rod is in good condition, deterioration of the tank is drastically reduced.
To prevent damage to the tank, simply replace the cathodic anode, a $15 item that takes about 30 minutes to install. Cathodic anodes are often not readily available in hardware store- you’ll probably have to buy from a plumbing-supply company. Because anodes come in all shapes and sizes, be prepared to give them the make and model of your water heater so that you get the right one. You can find this information on a label on the water-heater housing.