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Thread: OT - Hot water, Rotten egg smell and how to get rid of it?

  1. #1
    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    Default OT - Hot water, Rotten egg smell and how to get rid of it?

    My mother has been complaining about her hot water getting that rotten egg odor every few months. (Cold water is fine) When that happens, I used to flush a few cup of bleach into the system. She has a well, and I just fill the sediment filter with bleach and let it run to the house. I let it go into the hot water tank and let it sit there for a hour or so then I run the hot water until the bleach smell is gone.

    Today I did a bit of investigation

    Here's the scenario.

    - Electric Water heater about 2.5 years old. Lowes 38 Gallon envirotemp. (the square cabinet looking one)
    - Well water, Water softener inline.
    - She is the only one living there, so not a lot of hot water gets used.
    - Have not done a "professional" water analysis yet to see what's in the water. That's on the agenda

    I removed the anode and here is what I saw.
    Electric Water Heater pictures by wb2vsj - Photobucket


    According to the manual (and what I saw stamped on the head of the anode) it looks to be Aluminum. That leaves me in a dilemma - I was hoping to replace it with an aluminum one since I heard they were less "stinky"

    Back to square one.

    I could take the easy route and call the "Culligan" guy and spend $$$ and get it fixed.

    Have any of you had hydrogen sulfide removal systems put in and how did they work? Mom likes her well water and would rather not use a chlorine injection system in the long run.

    Thanks

    Walt

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    sealark37 is offline Hot Rolled
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    Chlorine treatment systems will not get rid of hydrogen sulfides. You are not the only one in your area who has this problem. Inquire among her neighbors and around the area. You will likely find who/where to go for the correct treatment to solve the problem. The local well drillers will have the straight scoop on water problems in their area. Regards, Clark

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    Timw is offline Stainless
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    Around here the solution is using an Aerator. If you are not familiar with them, it is a large plastic/fiberglass tank with about 2-300 gallon capacity. The water is sprayed into the tank and the gases are released. Has manual float switch to control water level. The tank is vented to atmosphere. This requires a well pump to the Aerator and a second pump to the house. Aerator is not pressurized.

  4. #4
    Carl Douglass is offline Aluminum
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    In past homes, I have had the same problem. I simply removed the sacrificial anode and put a plug in the hole. The anode reacts with some elements in the water to create the rotten egg odor. I know that this method is not recommended as it could shorten the life of the tank, but I never noticed any difference in life and I was rid of the smell.

    In those instances, I had a water softener, so that is not a sure solution either.
    gas pumper likes this.

  5. #5
    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    Quote Originally Posted by sealark37 View Post
    Chlorine treatment systems will not get rid of hydrogen sulfides. You are not the only one in your area who has this problem. Inquire among her neighbors and around the area. You will likely find who/where to go for the correct treatment to solve the problem. The local well drillers will have the straight scoop on water problems in their area. Regards, Clark
    You are right about the chlorine system - I forgot to mention that I suspect the culprit here is iron eating bacteria since we only smell it in the hot water.

    Good idea on the well drillers! Totally forgot about them.

    Carl - Removing the anode may be my next short term "option"


    Thanks

    Walt

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    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    Quote Originally Posted by Timw View Post
    Around here the solution is using an Aerator. If you are not familiar with them, it is a large plastic/fiberglass tank with about 2-300 gallon capacity. The water is sprayed into the tank and the gases are released. Has manual float switch to control water level. The tank is vented to atmosphere. This requires a well pump to the Aerator and a second pump to the house. Aerator is not pressurized.

    TimW - How much floor space do these need? We have a well house, it's about 8' X 8' that already houses the softener and ~20gal expansion tank

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    paul39 is online now Stainless
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    Check with your county agricultural agent. They are plugged into NC State so there is a depth of knowledge.

    The ones in Asheville have been helpful.

    Anyone who sells water remedies may be inclined to recommend what they sell.

    At my home place in Western Pennsylvania we had a spring and catch tank for water. we had the same problem you have with the addition of water heaters rusting through every 4 - 5 years and the copper plumbing being thinned and weeping and becoming brittle and snapping off.

    Paul

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    Ciszewski is offline Hot Rolled
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    Hello Wb2vsj
    You did the right thing by removing the "stink" rod. It's put in there so that the minerals in the water attack it instead of the tank. Just put a pipe plug in the hole & you're good to go.
    If the cold water had the smell too, then it's time to shock your well with chlorine.

  9. #9
    kuksul08 is offline Aluminum
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    We have a well and our water is the same way. I assume the hot water smells more because it is steaming and getting into the air. I believe the cause is hydrogen sulfide which is pretty common in untreated well water, you have to have an intermediate tank to allow the water to off-gas. I don't think it's a health risk, it's just annoying.

    We were considering a large storage reservoir with an O3 system - which will both clean the water and let it off-gas at the same time. I'm not sure what your mother could do though.. that's just my input.

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    gas pumper is offline Cast Iron
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    Carl and Ciszewski have it right.

    I have rental properties and have gas heaters and electric heaters. Only the electrics have the anode(?) rod. I have one in an unoccupied unit and even with the power off to the unit, the water turned bad in the heater. Same smell. I recently drained all the stinky water out and refilled it. When it stinks again, I'll take the rod out.

    I had another one a few years ago that the rod completly disintergrated. That one stunk up the water even when it was being constantly used. Had to bring an air compressor (pancake) up to the third floor to use an impact gun to get that one out.

    I think it's supposed to protect the heating element from getting eaten away.

    We have city water, but it comes from wells. Th pH is around 5. so everything rots away from the acid.

    Frank

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    SND
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    Sometimes its bacteria, sometimes its the anodes, sometimes(in my case) its seems related to too much manganese in the water and maybe with a few other metals it eventually makes the smell, so 2-3 x a year I flush the well with a gal of javex and it solves the issue for quite a while. I also use a 2.5"x20" carbon block filter between the pressure tank and the softener which also helps a bit. I also found it gets that way faster if there's been lots of rain, even if its a drilled well at 340ft with 40' of casing in bedrock.

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    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    Quote Originally Posted by gas pumper View Post
    ... Had to bring an air compressor (pancake) up to the third floor to use an impact gun to get that one out.

    ...

    Frank
    You ain't lyin' brother! I tried a few months ago just with a breaker bar extension and socket, I was worried I was going to twist the damn tank out of the cabinet. Brought over the air compressor today and a 1/2" impact wrench and it was out in 2 seconds.

    Good suggestions guys. I'll keep the anode out for now and see how that works.

    Walt

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    Tony Wells is offline Banned
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    I had the same problem at the shop. I did not use isolation unions for the connections. Installed copper to the tank, directly. Replaced the connection with the galvanized, plastic lined nipples, and the stink went away.

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    Ox's Avatar
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    I am pretty sure that a worn electric heater element itself will make that stink.

    I am pretty sure that I had that same thing here in the shop in an electrical heated parts worsher. Replaced the heating element and not been an issue in yrs since. (likely due again anyday now)


    -----------------

    Think Snow Eh!
    Ox

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    Uglydog is offline Plastic
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    We had this problem.
    Turn up the heat on your hot water heater as high as it will go for 48 hours. If it is in the hot water heater it may cook off the culprit.

    I believe the problem is the anode rod in the heater I installed this summer. While the stink is dissipated I'm still getting discoloration.

    If you choose to pull your anode you need to understand that it will likely void your hot water heater warranty.

    Regardless, the change in temperature made a significant difference in the odor. Then adjust it down to an appropriate temp.

    Don't forget to let everyone know of the temporary change in settings so that they don't get burnt when using the hot water.

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    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    Worn element - I had not thought of that one.

    This is the second water heater that has been in the house. I replaced the original right after my dad died a couple of years ago so my mom would not have to worry about it. The first one was there for 10+ years. (Got lucky for a 6 yr heater ) Same exact type. It also had the stink issue but not as often. Maybe with dad in the house more water was being run thru it not giving the bacteria time to multiply as much. 'course it could be the drought , lack of drought, solar flares, etc etc.

    I'll talk to some drillers and we'll get the water analyzed and then get a real permanent solution installed.

    Walt

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    wb2vsj is offline Hot Rolled
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Wells View Post
    I had the same problem at the shop. I did not use isolation unions for the connections. Installed copper to the tank, directly. Replaced the connection with the galvanized, plastic lined nipples, and the stink went away.
    I read about that when I went to replace the heater. So I bought some to install. Was surprised to see them already in the heater when I got it. Then I discovered that the house was plumbed with plastic anyway

    I can't prove it, but I believe copper piping (if you have enough of it) will help kill the bacteria in the lines.


    Walt

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    Remove the anode from your hot water heater whether it is magnesium or aluminum. Your tank may easily last as long without the anode. Shock your well with about a gal of bleach every six months by removing the well cap and pouring the bleach directly into the well. Then run the garden hose into the well until you detect chlorine coming out of the hose. Run each faucet one at a time until you detect chlorine. Shut off all the water and let it sit overnight. The next day run each faucet to flush out the whole system. If this is the first time you ever did this you will be amazed at what comes out, you may have to remove some of the faucet screens.

    PS Another thing about new water heaters. If they have those stupid heat traps, remove them and use the gooseneck method to stop heat loss.

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    steelhound is offline Plastic
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    I lived in fla for 35 yrs and had well water for most of the time and the only thing a plumber
    friend did was put in a good charcoal filter behind my water softener and we never had another problem.

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    Timw is offline Stainless
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    Quote Originally Posted by wb2vsj View Post
    TimW - How much floor space do these need? We have a well house, it's about 8' X 8' that already houses the softener and ~20gal expansion tank
    I would guestamate the Aerators are 4' X 4' by 5' tall. I tried to find them on google to post a link but couldn't find them. They carry them at my local Ace Hardware but nothing on Ace web site. As close as I can remember they were $3-400.00.

    I am on a well but don't get the smell. I get very little when I run the washing machine, it sprays the water when filling.

    I have been in local peoples houses and they smelled like someone took a giant dump! I don't know how they can stand it????

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