Hot Water Heater Questions Answered by HomeLife Warranty Protection

There is a lot about home maintenance we non-technically minded people don’t understand. Thankfully, there are companies like HomeLife Warranty Protection to provide information about home repairs and upkeep and offer peace of mind when the unexpected happens.

Today, we talk with HomeLife Warranty Protection about one of the most overlooked system in the home, the hot water heater.

Q: Hello and thank you for joining us today. As you know, we would like to talk about hot water heater maintenance.

HomeLife Warranty Protection: We’d love to. It’s an important piece of equipment that often goes untouched until it breaks.

Q: Why is that?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Mostly because it doesn’t require intervention to operate…the dishwasher, washing machine, and other appliances have to be touched daily.

Q: We don’t even see the hot water heater every day!

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Exactly. But these appliances work around-the-clock, and even have a number of features that few people know about.

Q: Do tell…

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Have you ever heard of a sacrificial anode?

Q: No, what’s that?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Water heaters have what’s called an anode rod inside the tank that acts as a decoy; they are usually made of magnesium, aluminum, or zinc. The anode rod provides an alternative source of electrons, instead of taking them from the steel water tank.

Q: So it essentially sacrifices itself so the tank doesn’t corrode?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Yes and without this rod, the hot water heater might only last half as long.

Q: How long are these rods supposed to last?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Most manufacturers suggest they be replaced every two years.

Q: Why is that?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: This is about the length of time it takes for degradation of the anode rod before it starts eating at the water tank itself.

Q:  What happens if it’s not replaced on time…or at all?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Not performing this replacement causes premature corrosion of the tank and water leaks occur that could cause property damage and cut in half the useful life of the water heater.  Proper anode rod replacement every 2 years should double the life of the water heater.

Q: Is there only one type of anode rod?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: No, actually. Homeowners in soft water areas might want to consider a powered anode, which connects to an outlet and emits a low electrical current into the water.

Q: Do anode rods serve any other purpose?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Odor is a problem in some soft water areas and the powered rods can help with that as well.

Q: Are there any other parts that should be replaced regularly?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Not usually but many homeowners do not know that the tank is supposed to be drained at least once a year.

Q: Oh really?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Yes, and even more often in areas of hard water.

Q: What do you mean when you mention hard and soft water?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: That refers to the amount of dissolved minerals in the water. More minerals equals harder water.

Q: How does hard water affect a hot water heater?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: Hard water has calcium and magnesium dispersed throughout it and these minerals can settle at the bottom of the tank, causing reduced water temperatures and increased energy consumption.

Q: Got it. So, change the rods and drain the tank for best performance?

HomeLife Warranty Protection: That’s pretty much all it takes! A little care and a few minutes of maintenance every year really does go a long way.

20 thoughts on “Hot Water Heater Questions Answered by HomeLife Warranty Protection”

  1. I have literally never thought about anything that would have to be done to the hot water heater. Who knew they were so interesting on the inside? Glad I came across this. Homelife Warranty Protection might have just saved me from killing my hot water heater…and that thing was $1200!

    1. Most people typically think the hot water heater does one thing – heat water. It is very interesting when you consider the science that actually goes to the entire process.

  2. This got me to thinking, I wonder if I should switch to a powered rod in my hot water heater. My daughter has been complaining that the water smells funny. I will be calling HomeLife Warranty Protection this week to get a recommendation for a plumber in my area.

    1. Thank you for reaching out. Give one of our friendly customer service representatives call and we will assist you in any way possible.

  3. I found out the hard way that my tank was supposed to be drained. My hot water wasn’t quite as hot as it’s supposed to be and when the plumber came out and drained it little white chunks of “stuff” came flying out. My question for HomeLife Warranty Protection is what was that stuff?

    1. That’s a great question. The little white chunks that come out of the hot water heater are little bits of calcium and lime scale buildup. It is likely that you live in a hard water area. A water filtration or treatment system can help remove all that scum and increase the life expectancy of your household systems. Contact us and we will refer a water specialist to assist you with any questions you may have.

  4. I would like to follow up on a comment HomeLife Warranty Protection made… You mentioned hard water but what does actually mean?

    1. A hard water area is an area with a high concentration of mineral deposits in the water. The water is safe to drink but the tiny particles can really take a toll on the hot water heater. Hot water heaters in hard water areas that are not properly and regularly serviced may have a lifespan of less than half a properly maintained unit.

  5. HomeLife Warranty Protection offers quite a bit of advice here. As a plumber, I highly recommend draining the hot water heater & having the rods changed out at least once a year/every two years. It’s also not a bad idea to have a service contract with a local plumbing company.

    1. We appreciate you taking the time to offer that advice. Please give us a call if there’s anything we can do for you.

    1. The anode rods are part of your regular maintenance and should be replaced yearly. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to ensure these maintenance items are replaced. Should you have further questions, please feel free to contact us and thank you for reaching out.

  6. HomeLife Warranty Protection does a really great job explaining the differences between hard and soft water. We came across this QA researching the different water types for my fourth grader’s science project. He says he totally gets it now.

  7. Is it really necessary to drain the hot water heater? HomeLife Warranty Protection recommends that but I still don’t really understand why.

    1. Over time, tiny mineral particles will build up on the bottom of the heater. This essentially acts as an insulator preventing the heating element from doing its job efficiently. The results is an overworked hot water heater, excessive wear and tear, and eventually a faucet full of cold water.

  8. I am considering using HomeLife Warranty Protection when I buy my next house. For comparison, how much is a new hot water heater?

    1. Depending on the size and type of unit purchase, a standard hot water here including installation runs somewhere in the $1000-$2000 range. Tankless options are more expensive.

    1. Visit our website at; our customer service agents are available, and our comprehensive product coverage options start at just $23 a month.

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