Why does your water heater smell like rotten eggs?

We've all experienced that before - walking into the house, turning on the hot faucet for a nice hot shower, and it smells like rotten eggs. UGH! However, it is usually something that is easily fixed using a number of different fixing options.

Anta Plumbing is all about consumer education, so here goes:

Step 1: Make Sure It IS the Hot Water

Before you start troubleshooting, you must first establish that your hot water is indeed the source of the problem. You can do this by checking the cold water. Simply open the cold faucet and see if you can catch that rotten egg odor. If not, you've come to the right place - move on to step 2.

If your cold water also smells, you should get in touch with Anta Plumbing right away.

Step 2: Make Sure You Don't Have Dry Drains

If the pipe between your the in one of your fixtures and the sewer line or septic tank dries out completely, you will also get a horrible smell. If you experience a bad smell that is not coming from the water, and you have not used a fixture for some time, simply let the water run for a few seconds to see if it improves. If it does, you may want to pour some chlorine bleach into the drain to kill the odor-causing bacteria that sit at the top of the drain.

By now you will have a good idea as the cause of your smelly drain.

Eliminating Rotten Egg Smell From Your Hot Water

Most often, water contains naturally occurring sulfur, as well as sulfate-reducing bacteria that occurs naturally. These bacteria are normally harmless to humans, and are generally killed when the municipality's water treatment plant adds chlorine to the water.

The anode rod that is located in your water heater is made of aluminum or magnesium. Its sole purpose is to corrode in order to prevent your tank from corroding. In your water heater, the combination of corrosive metal, bacteria and sulfur can concoct hydrogen sulfide, and that's what creatives this awful rotten egg smell.

Getting Rid of the Rotten Egg Smell In Your Hot Water Heater

Some of the tips below will work to remove the rotten egg smell for now, but in future, it would be best to prevent H2S gas from forming, or to kill the bacteria that causes it. Here are some of our best DIY tips for getting rid of the rotten egg smell.

1. Add H2O2

➔ Shut off the cold water inlet into your water heater and allow some water to drain from the tank.
➔ Disconnect the metal hose which connects to the cold water.
➔ Pour 3% hydrogen peroxide (H202) into the inlet at a rate of one cup per 10 gallons of the size of your water heater.
➔ Reconnect the hose and turn on the cold water valve to refill the tank.
➔ Let it sit for a few hours before use.

The hydrogen peroxide will get rid of the bacteria and their bad smell.

2. Get a New Anode Rod

If you don't use a water softener, replace your aluminum or magnesium anode rod with a zinc and aluminum rod. Be sure to take the old one with you to ensure you get one that's similar in size and style.

If you do use a water softener, this might still work, but sometimes the water is highly conductive and the zinc-aluminum anode rod may not work.

If neither of these solutions fix your problem, your problem might lie upstream of the water heater. There are certain filtration solutions that might remove sulfur and the rotten egg smell, so get in touch with Anta Plumbing to help you out.

Written by Tanya Klien

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