Did RV Antifreeze Eat the Anode Rod in your Water Heater?

That may sound a little silly, but thousands of RV owners winterized their RVs and added RV antifreeze a few months ago.  Now it’s Spring and time to do a little Spring maintenance on your RV.  If you have a Suburban water heater take time now to unscrew the drain plug and look at the anode rod.  If it looks like a skinny clothes hanger wire, then it’s time to invest in a new anode rod.  For less than $20 you can replace the anode rod and extend the life of your water heater.  The anode rod attracts the corrosive elements in water.  RV antifreeze and minerals in tap water eat away at the anode rod and when the anode rod is gone, it starts eating the interior of your water heater and, before you know it, you’re spending a lot more than $20. When replacement is necessary, unscrew the old one and insert the new one.

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  1. John Mann

    Hi Nana!

    You mention the need to replace the anode if it has been eaten away by antifreeze, but you don’t mention what to do about the white flaky material that now coats the entire inside of the water heater. It will get in my water lines and it will reduce the efficiency of my water heater. How do I get this stuff out?

    Second, how do I prevent this from happening next winter?

    Cheers from Canada!

    1. RVNANA (Post author)

      Great question, John! I got some help from my friend, Terry Cooper, the Texas RV Professor, and he advised me to flush out the tank once the anode rod has been removed.  The flaky stuff will sit on the bottom of the tank and the only thing that works is to do a lots of flushing.  He suggested using the little yellow wand that attaches to a water hose and stick it inside the drain hole. This stirs up the sludge.  Then it’s like going to the dentist and they tell you to “swish and spit.”  You just have to keep doing this until the water runs clean.  Thanks for the comment!

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