RevRico
RevRico GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/29/16 9:35 a.m.

As some may remember, back in June I replaced my 38 year old hot water tank with a brand new AO Smith electric. Since about 2 weeks after install, we've been getting a sulfur-y smell from the hot water. It started in the shower, but has worked it's way through to the sinks, both upstairs and downstairs. I have no idea where it's coming from or where to even start looking.

On installing, we did remove all the plastic bits, and brazed on new valves and connectors to the ancient thicker than anything I've ever seen copper pipes, so I don't think it's anything as a result of installation.

I will say, I won't rule out pollutants in the water, I live in a valley, and have a well. Downhill from gas wells on one side and a horse farm on another does leave contamination open to consideration. According to our neighbors, we have the cleanest well on the water table though, meaning our water actually comes out clear, despite leaving iron deposits in anything it sits in, and carrying a strong irony taste.

It's been about 4 years since we've had our water softener serviced, and already have a call into that company, but I don't think it's going to do any good. We keep the salt tank full, and add RezClear every year as recommended.

When we removed the old hot water tank, it had no anode rod left, and I've been wondering if the newer tank may be concentrating crap coming through the water lines and basically cooking it? but I honestly don't know if that makes sense. We've just never had a problem with the water smelling this bad ever before, so I'm kind of at a loss.

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
8/29/16 9:47 a.m.

It's your well. The sediment can give water an odor and even a bit of sand in the toilet tanks and so on. Some of that can accumulate in the faucet screens.

I run a whole house carbon sediment filter and have a reverse osmosis filter under the sink with a faucet for drinking water, plumbed to the ice maker. Now, there isn't anything at all wrong with my water - it tests fine. But, ice tea with an earthy smell or ice cubes with sand aren't nearly as appetizing as ones without.

So, test your water to make sure it's really fine... then go get some filtration stuff.

STM317
STM317 HalfDork
8/29/16 9:47 a.m.

I recently had a plumber do some work for me and we got to talking about my water heater. He said that often times, a sulfer smell isn't caused by well water, but by a chemical reaction with the anode in the water heater. That's why the smell is only present in the hot water.

The anode can be replaced with one that is a different material, and the smell goes away.

http://www.smellywater.com/

Huckleberry
Huckleberry MegaDork
8/29/16 9:50 a.m.

In reply to STM317:

Interesting. I have a gas hot water heater so... no anode and I occasionally get a little sulfur smell. I always figured it was more prevalent in hot water because of the steam making it more available to my nostrils.

RevRico
RevRico GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/29/16 9:57 a.m.
STM317 wrote: I recently had a plumber do some work for me and we got to talking about my water heater. He said that often times, a sulfer smell isn't caused by well water, but by a chemical reaction with the anode in the water heater. That's why the smell is only present in the hot water. The anode can be replaced with one that is a different material, and the smell goes away. http://www.smellywater.com/

I was wondering if there being an anode for the first time in god knows how long could have something to do with it. I'll have to check it out.

I'll have to try the hydrogen peroxide, they recommend drugstore, but I also know where to get much more concentrated if that fails. Cheap fixes are always nice.

Probably should have added we just replaced the pump, footvalve, and lines from the well to the house about 5 years ago, and either thats condensating a lot or has a small leak. THOSE lines coming up to the pump were downright disgusting.

dculberson
dculberson PowerDork
8/29/16 10:05 a.m.
Huckleberry wrote: In reply to STM317: Interesting. I have a gas hot water heater so... no anode and I occasionally get a little sulfur smell. I always figured it was more prevalent in hot water because of the steam making it more available to my nostrils.

I'm pretty sure gas water heaters have anodes as well, based on my having serviced the anode in my gas water heater before. The anode is there to prevent corrosion of the tank, which can happen with gas or electric water heaters.

spitfirebill
spitfirebill UltimaDork
8/29/16 12:25 p.m.
dculberson wrote:
Huckleberry wrote: In reply to STM317: Interesting. I have a gas hot water heater so... no anode and I occasionally get a little sulfur smell. I always figured it was more prevalent in hot water because of the steam making it more available to my nostrils.
I'm pretty sure gas water heaters have anodes as well, based on my having serviced the anode in my gas water heater before. The anode is there to prevent corrosion of the tank, which can happen with gas or electric water heaters.

HHHmmm. Our first gas water heater rotted out after about 8 years and I wondered if it was electrolysis. Some "expert" told me the gas water heaters didn't have an anode. I think I shall investigate this further.

mad_machine
mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/29/16 10:03 p.m.

any time you have two dissimilar metals either submerged or in water together, you should probably have an anode. It keeps one of the metals from eating the other due to electrolysis... remember, your water lines are sometimes used as a ground in older homes.. so some stray current in the water is not unheard of

mikeatrpi
mikeatrpi Reader
8/29/16 10:14 p.m.

Anode rod. I believe the standard ones are made of magnesium, and the kind you need is aluminum/zinc. Double check, I might have it backwards. Depending on how bad the smell is, draining most of the water and replacing the rod with the right alloy will fix it. If its pretty awful though you can pour a little bleach or hydrogen peroxide in when you had the rod out. I have had to do this in my house - even a tiny bit of bleach stays in the water for a while - so use it sparingly.

1988RedT2
1988RedT2 PowerDork
8/30/16 11:44 a.m.

We have a well, and the hot water will frequently smell of sulphur, particularly when that specific faucet has not been used in a few days. We also have an iron removal unit, which the builder installed and is considered something of a necessity around here. I seem to recall the smell being worse when the unit was not working properly, but it's no big deal. We have home delivery for drinking water, but I'd drink the well water on a dare, and it's fine for showers.

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