Anode Rod-Sorry--Long

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by pthomas2, Oct 30, 2006.

  1. pthomas2

    pthomas2 New Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    I read all of the threads regarding Anode rods, one of which said the softener did not have an effect on, but I must disagree....

    I have a serious problem with my State gas HWH. About a year ago I had a water softener installed, then about 4 months later, I discovered brown water coming out of the hot side, especially in bathrooms, ie..tubs and sinks not used on regular basis. ( I did check them at least every week or so to be sure there was not brown in the lines and all appeared ok for a while)

    I had a plumber come out and after extensive charges, he finally called the manuf and they said to check the adode rod, which was totally eaten up in both units. He was told to replace with a zinc type which would not have a chemical reaction to the water softerner.

    Well, now four months later, here I am with the same problem again, noticed the brown water coming out of the hot side again.

    I don't know at this point whether it's my gas HWH's that are causing the problem or if my softner is causing the problem. Since it takes about 4 months to show up, I hate bypassing the softner, plus now I've got to drain and redrain and redrain the tanks, which also ran up my water bill to $300 last time.

    I guess I'm answering my on ?, but I guess I need to start with having the rods pulled to see how bad a shape they're in.

    Is there any way the softner can be hooked up backwards or missing a part?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this.
  2. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Nov 8, 2005
    Hansville, Washington
    This from another web site, where they sell anode rods; the last paragraph may apply. I don't know how to change a softener to prevent "over softening" but I'm sure someone else here can offer some advice:

    Recognize that the condition of your water is also a major factor and the quality of the water heater lining are two other factors in the life span of your water heater.
    Anode rods that come installed with water heaters generally will be made of magnesium or aluminum that is wrapped around a steel core wire.
    Water heater anode rods are generally screwed into the top of the tank.
    Therefore, they are physically connected to the steel of the tank creating an electrochemical reaction, similar to that of a battery. The anode intentionally corrodes and the steel hopefully will remain intact. That is the theory of the anode rod.
    When there's no sacrificial metal left on the anode, the tank can rust out.
    Anode rods generally last about five years but it really depends mostly on the quality of your water and how much water travels through your water heater.
    When salt is added to the water (such as when a water softener is used), anode rods can corrode more quickly. Water softeners can help reduce sediment, but anodes can corrode in as little as six months if the water is over-softened.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2006
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

  4. pthomas2

    pthomas2 New Member

    Oct 30, 2006
    Thanks Mikey, I'll be giving my softener company (Culligan) a call. The last time this happened, ironically, they said they've never heard of this problem. I do have a hard time believing it.
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Water is either soft or hard. In residential applications, soft is 0 gpg hardness and hard is 1 or more gpg hardness, so there is no such thing as "over softened".

    TDS, total dissolved solids, the things that allow water to conduct electricity, is not changed by ion exchange softening. So softened water will not conduct more electrical current than hard water.

    The sodium added by a softener may rust the exposed parts of the supposedly glass lined mild steel tank (that is supposed to prevent that), and that probably is where your brown water is coming from. It's called rust and whatever the corroded anode rod adds to the water if anything. Which is probably iron (rust) if the core is steel and water can get to it. BTW, most water contains some sodium naturally.

    You may have a bad ground on either the water heater or the electrical system of the house.

    Are you sure your water is 0-1 gpg and 0ppm iron when the problem occurs? If not the softener is not be working correctly and that could cause the problem.
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2006
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Nov 12, 2005
    How old are your water heaters.
  7. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Feb 6, 2005
    Sensitivity trainer.. plumber of mens souls
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    over softened water. + ideal hardness....

    over soft water??

    just a questioin for Gary S......

    Occasionally we get a complaint from
    a customer where they claim the water is so
    slick and slimey that they cant wash it off or get the
    soap off either..........

    basically its just a matter of the unit useing
    too much salt......

    we kick down the salt intake from maybe
    14 lbs on a 45000grn unit
    down to whatever works best for them...

    now that considered too soft??

    or is that just too salty?????

    and in your honest opinion what is the ideal
    hardness that water should be??

    Most tankless water heaters tech information
    claims that you must maintain at least a level under
    11parts hard or their warranty is void on their heat

    0 parts hardness seem a little extreme....

    so at what level does things get too slick and slimey??

    (me and my bar of Ivory soap want to know)

  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    If the unit is using too much salt, then the excess is just going down the drain. When brine goes through the resin it exchanges the sodium ion with the calcium one in the resin. If there is not enough salt, then some resin is not treated so it does not contribute to the softening process, but all that might do is allow some untreated water to pass through the softener. Some softener units have an adjustable bypass port that allows the user to select how much unsoftened water they want to mix with the soft water.
  9. plumber1

    plumber1 Plumber

    Aug 7, 2005
    If it were mine at home I would take the anode rod out and put a plug in the that connection...
  10. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Well, like I said (concerning residential softening), water is either hard or soft. Although man or his machines can not remove all hardness from water. The best we can do is IIRC 18 megohm DI water. That means the water is so low on things in the water TDS (total dissolved solids) that conduct electric current that the water is an insulator, or 18 meg resistor, to the flow of an electrical current. It is the stuff dissolved into water that conducts electricity; just H2O alone does not.

    Usually a softener isn't justified unless there is 3 gpg or more hardness in the water but, if you have a softener it should remove all the gpg of hadness or it is not sized or set up correctly.

    When you say 14 parts, do you mean ppm (mg/l is the same measurement)?

    If so, there is no way to maintain 14 ppm of hardness in someone's cold water feed to any type water heater.

    BUT, 14 ppm is less than the 17.1 ppm, or mg/l, it takes to make 1 gpg and thereby that water would be 0 gpg hard. And they can't mean 14 gpg! That will scale shut a tankless water heater in a short time, which voids warranties on most of them.

    You say 14 lb and 45k, which can't be or happen. A 45k softener is a 1.5 cuft softener and to get 45k you have to use the maximum salt dose of 22.5 lbs (15 lbs/cuft) [2000 grains/lb salt efficientcy; 45000/22.5=2000], or you don't get the maximum capacity of 45k. 14 lbs actually only regenerates 39k (2785 grains/lb). So... the softener will be allowing excessive leakage; hardness over 1 gpg and usually more than 2-4 gpg while running out of soft water between regenerations AND then the customer isn't getting what they paid for or the full value of feeding the thing all that salt. That's pretty poor salt efficiency.

    See my sizing chart page here:

    Sea/salt water doesn't cause slick slimey, so why would sodium in softened water?

    I say it is caused by clean skin pores allowing the natural oils in our skin to the surface.... where hard water plugs the pores and causes very dry itchy scaly skin (due to no natural oils on the skin).

    Then SHE slathers facial creams and baby oil all over her while taking bubble baths with oil on'n on and you complain how much money all that and the defoliate treatments cost... It's easier feeding a softener a bit of salt and keeping the time of day set correctly on it. lol

    Plus, it takes 21 days to make or break a good or bad habit, so tell them the benefits and to get used to it and enjoy how clean and healthy their skin is with softened water. Which is no lie. BTW, hair is shinny silky smooth in softened water and dry, brittle and dull after being in sea water.

    "Squeaky clean" isn't clean, it's sticky due to surface film.
  11. Master Plumber Mark

    Master Plumber Mark Master Plumber

    Feb 6, 2005
    Sensitivity trainer.. plumber of mens souls
    indianapolis indiana - land of the free, home of
    you lost me with hello

    I will probably have to just call you sometime

    if you dont get a better understanding

    of all of what you wrote....

    I usually install a 45 ,000 grain metered water conditioner

    the AVERAGE hardness around here is about 18- 24 parts hard

    on city water, and on well water it can go off the chart......

    depending on where you are in the city....with plenty of lime...

    usually with an autotrol, on city water...
    we set it to regenerate when 35,000
    grains of mineral are used up, useing the standard factory
    setting it comes out of the box with of 14lbs of salt..

    occasinally I get a complaint from the customer that it is
    too slick.... its only a matter of re-setting the hardness
    and kicking down the salt intake

    I do need some more water test kits, to do a field test to
    fine tune the units that are installed in well water,

    everyone seems pretty happy, in my own home I am useing
    about 50 lbs of salt a month with 4 people and lots of laundry...

    your shart for sizeing did not come up, if you could
    repost it sometime that would be helpful.
  12. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Aug 31, 2004
    San Diego, CA
    Water with zero mineral content feels a little "slimy" because it seems harder to rinse the soap. On submarines, we of course had distilled water from an evap. minerals. Tasted funny and hard to rinse off the soap.
  13. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Yes you can call and the sizing chart link works for me.

    Your softener's capacity can only be what the salt dose provides. Set the salt dose at max per cuft (15 lbs * 1.5cuft= 22.5 lbs) and you get 45k capacity.

    Set it at 14 lbs and you get 39K. Set it at 13 lbs and you 36K. Now each of those salt settings and K of capacity provides a certain salt efficiency. 6 lbs/cuft is 9 lbs in a 1.5 cuft softener and you get 30K; so divide the 30K by the 9 lbs and you see that you are getting 3333 grains/lb. 39000/14=2785/lb. 3333-2785=548 less grains/lb. If my customer needs 39K, I use a 2 cuft set at 11.5 lbs and 39K. Which gives them a higher SFR gpm than a 1.5 cuft also; which provides my customer with 0 gpg soft water at all times.

    When your customer calls and then you reduce the salt, that reduces the capacity and that reduces the length of time or gallons between regenerations BUT it also increases the leakage (amount of hardness left) in the softened water. Which stops the silky soft'n smooth slippery feeling. But, leakage is supposed to be no more than 1 gpg. In essence the customer then has the expense of purchase, operation and eventual maintenance yet still has hard water...

    It is also why when I ask people "how has your old softener worked?", they tell me, "ya know, it never did give me soft water all the time".
Similar Threads: Anode Rod-Sorry--Long
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Too late to change anode and flush old water heater Jul 29, 2017
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Smelly hot water even after new anode rod Feb 13, 2017
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Replace HW heater anode rod ... Bradford White combination outlet/rod Jan 19, 2016
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Water heater anodes. Aug 24, 2015
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Powered Anodes??? Dec 6, 2014

Share This Page