How good are the elements and anodes that come with Rheem and AO Smith water heaters?

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alienux

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I'm getting ready to replace my water heater.

I've heard that the AO Smith or Rheem water heaters sold at Lowes and Home Depot are decent, but that they come with cheap elements, and also possibly cheap quality anodes.

First of all, is this true?

Secondly, if purchasing one of those brands, do the stores generally sell better quality elements and anodes for those water heaters off the shelf? If so, are the included ones cheap enough that it's worth just immediately buying better parts and replacing them right away instead of using the ones that the water heaters come with?

I know I could ask someone at the stores, but our stores typically have workers that I often feel are guessing when I ask questions like this, rather than actually being very knowledgeable about it from experience.
 

Russ Smart

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I think the original elements are probably as good as any, I've never had a problem with them. The live of an element is relative to water quality, if you have good water, they last a long time. We have always needed softeners with our wells, and elements last a long time. Maybe 20 years?
 

Mitchell-DIY-Guy

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I'm not even sure that the manufacturer's tech line or the product spec sheet on the specific water heater models you are looking at would tell you which anode rod is installed: aluminum or magnesium. Generally, but not all the time, magnesium is preferred but of course is a bit more costly. All anode rods are sacrificial and their rate of deterioration is dependent on water use and quality and material of the rod...
 
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