The Sacrificial Anode Replacement Rip-Off
The great sacrificial anode replacement rip-off resurfaces every few years.
The routine invariably starts in the middle of the day with a knock on the door by a friendly “salesman”. After warm greetings, they state they are in your neighbourhood doing some work and that a neighbour had suggested they do the same “free check” on your hot water service.
This unsolicited pitch or a variation of it is the signature pitch of conmen who prey on unsuspecting homeowners, especially the elderly creating fear about their hot water tank. Commonly they display a great deal of empathy and concern and are only doing the “free check” of your hot water service as one of your neighbours had already had theirs repaired and were concerned for you.
The “free check” invariably concludes with you urgently needing a sacrificial anode replacement. If you have water stains on your hot water tank similar to the photo below then you have a leak in the tank.
What Is A Leaking Sacrificial Anode
As you can see below this tank needed replacement as it was leaking around the sacrificial anode. Installing a new sacrificial anode will achieve nothing.
A leaking hot water tank cannot be repaired.
Even if your hot water tank is not leaking the friendly salesman will assure you it is about to start leaking if you don’t replace the sacrificial anode now.
To back it up he will have information from the manufacturers about replacing the sacrificial anode backed up by horror photos.
Does A Sacrificial Anode Need Replacing?
Yes, your sacrificial anode on your hot water service should be checked at least every 5 years.
But if it has never been checked or replaced and your hot water service is over 10 years old you are wasting your time replacing it as the damage has already been done to your steel storage tank.
The photo above illustrates perfectly a brand new sacrificial anode at the top of the photo. The sacrificial anode in the bottom of the photo was removed after nine years inside a hot water tank.
Basically your hot water tank is prevented from rusting away by the sacrificial anode. The anode corrodes instead of the steel tank which is the cathode. This principle of electrolytic corrosion control is described as cathodic protection. Hence the term sacrificial anode. As a cathodic surface cannot rust, the steel hot water tank is protected as long as the anode is whole and working.
These days the majority of hot water tanks last around 12 to 15 years. The sacrificial anode prolongs the life of your hot water tank. But once the anode becomes ineffective the steel tank is no longer a cathode and begins to rust from the inside. Once the rusting process begins, it takes about 3 to 5 years for it to eat away through the steel tank wall.
Who Can Replace A Sacrificial Anode?
As with any plumbing fixture, only a licenced plumber working for a QBCC licensed plumbing contractor can replace a sacrificial anode.
Take it from me knocking on your door and cold-calling is not a professional or viable way to market or operate a plumbing business.
In all likelihood, the person knocking on your door is not a licensed plumber or a licensed plumbing contractor. Simply ask them to produce their licenses. In our experience, they are not a plumber but ordinary old con artists who have no experience or knowledge in servicing a hot water service.