Do Electric Water Heaters have an Anode Rod?

Many people are switching to electric water heaters. However, they are not familiar with electric water heaters and thus, they wonder if electric water heaters have an anode rod? So, let me explain.

Tankless electric water heaters don’t have an anode rod but storage electric water heaters do have an anode rod. The anode rod usually comes with the heating element on a storage electric water heater. But, it can be replaced independently.

An anode rod is essential for all storage water heaters including electric storage water heaters. However, finding and replacing it can be tricky.

Where is the Anode Rod on an Electric Water Heater?

If you’re using a tankless electric water heater, you don’t have to worry about changing the anode rod because it doesn’t have or need one.

But, if you have a storage electric water heater, you need to replace the anode rod once in a while.

The anode rod on a storage electric water heater is often attached to the heating element. Hence, you first need to find the wiring panel cover and remove it to access the heating element.

Below is a photo captured after removing the panel cover of an electric storage water heater:

Electric Storage Water Heater Wire Exposed

Be careful because once you open up the panel, you’ll see a bunch of wires. You certainly want to make sure that you cut off the power supply to the water heater entirely.

You should see a piece of metal at the center and that is the back of the heating element. The anode rod is attached to the heating element on the inside, not visible from the outside.

How to Remove the Anode Rod from an Electric Water Heater?

Sometimes, you may find the anode rod is separated from the heating element. If that’s the case, you can pull out the anode rod easily.

However, most electric storage water heaters have a combined heating element and anode rod. So, you need to pull out the heating element from the water heater first.

Below is a photo showing the inside of an electric storage water heater:

Inside an Electric Storage Water Heater

As you can see from the above photo, the anode rod is attached to the heating element. So, you have to pull out the whole thing in order to replace the anode rod.

Take note that the thermowell is also attached to the heating element. Do not mistake it for the anode rod. The thermowell is used to house the temperature sensor of the thermostat.

If you’re curious about the function of the cold water and hot water nozzles, I’ve explained them in my post How Electric Storage Water Heaters Work? alongside other components.

Below is a photo of how to remove the anode rod from the heating element:

Removing the Anode Rod

Now, you just need to unscrew to remove the anode rod from the heating element.

Sometimes, the anode rod may be attached to the heating element by means of insertion. If that’s the case, simply pull the anode rod out of the heating element.

Can You Run an Electric Water Heater without an Anode Rod?

The function of the anode rod in an electric water heater is to attract corrosive substances in order to reduce the corrosion strength of the water against the water heater thereby prolonging the lifespan of the water heater.

Anode rods by no means can prevent a storage water heater from ever rusting. However, they do prevent a storage water heater from leaking after using it for a few months.

Often, a storage water heater leaks because there is a small hole or crack on its tank body due to rust caused by water corrosion. However, it could be a defect also.

With or without an anode rod, an electric water heater can still run. The hot water temperature and the hot water flow rate will not be affected.

However, the risk of getting a punctured tank and a faulty heating element is higher without an anode rod because corrosion happens faster inside the water heater, especially with hard water.


Tankless electric water heaters don’t need an anode rod because they don’t store water. However, storage electric water heaters do have an anode rod to reduce water corrosion and the anode rod is often attached to the heating element.

This article was originally published on Actions will be taken for unauthorised republication of this article.

Digital Products by aircondlounge

These are the top selling digital products made by me and sold on aircondlounge. Check them out and see which products fit your needs.

Chilled Water System Design Course
A true chilled water system design course that uses a modern 32-storey building as the sample project.
– Learn at your own pace
– 71+ lessons on design
– Step-by-step approach

Design Engineer Starter Pack
Kick start your HVAC design journey with eleven (11) excel calculators, five (5) diagrams and three (3) charts.
– Simple design
– Easy to use
– Key values included

HVAC Basics (eBook)
Learn different types of HVAC components used in residential and commercial buildings.
– Summary list
– Sample photos
– Easy navigation

Chilled Water System (eBook)
Pursuit the truth and learn the fundamental ways to approach the chilled-water system.
– Comprehensive explanation
– Fundamental approach
– Progressive teaching

Visit to see all digital products sold on aircondlounge.

Recommended Air Conditioners

I reviewed and compared hundreds of air conditioners. These are my latest recommended products. Check them out if you’re looking to buy one.

Mini Split – Daikin 19 Series
Ever since I switched to Daikin air conditioners, I love the quietness they provide. Everything is built with care. There is no loose part or rattling noise.
Efficiency: 19 SEER
Operating temp.: 5°F
Warranty: 12 years

Window AC – Midea U Shaped
A beautifully designed window air conditioner with the latest environmental-friendly R32 refrigerant gas that runs more quietly than most other window ACs.
Noise level: 42 dB
Efficiency: 15 CEER
Weight: 56 lbs

Portable AC – LG
A simple, reliable and affordable portable air conditioner is the best way to overcome hot weather during the hardest time.
Capacity: 6,000-10,000 BTU (DOE/SACC)
Coverage Area: 250-500 Sqft
Price Range: $260 to $560

Visit to see more guides and product recommendations.

Yu Chang Zhen

Yu worked as a professional in the HVAC industry for more than 7 years. He is an engineer who has a passion for blogging. Ever since he created this website, Yu has helped hundreds of homeowners and engineers on HVAC related matters.

Recent Posts