Plumbing in the Home/smelly hot water


We have smelly hot water (not cold)  We have a well and know there is a lot of iron in our water.  We have lived in this house for 23 years and smelly water has not been a problem until recently. Our 50 gal hot water heater was installed 2 years ago.
It started to smell while we were gone on vacation and we have tried replacing the anode rod twice - with no success.  I've read that putting bleach and/or peroxide is sometimes the answer.
My question is - how much bleach? or peroxide?  Do we drain the hot water heater completely, flush it out, pour in the bleach and let the tank fill and then circulate it through all the hot water pipes?  The company who installed the hot water heater has never done this before but is willing to try it at our request.  Thank you for any help you can give.

What's it smell like? If it is a rotten egg smell then you have  sulfur. High iron will also be discolored and smell like rusty metal. It may be possible that the aquifer your well is drawing from has changed. Sulfur is a solid that gasses off in water. It is intensified when heated like in a water tank and that's why it is more noticeable. Treating the tank is a very short term fix if at all. Are you getting any black sediment when you draw hot or cold?  If you can follow up with a few more details I may be able to help  more. Try this test. Draw a large glass or bowl of hot water, look for sediment and then sniff it for odors, if you smell  the odor then let it sit for 15-30 minutes while you leave the area then return and sample it again. if the smell is gone then  more than likely it's sulfur and pretreatment is necessary.  You may have to install a chlorinator to solve this permanently.You should also know that sulfur comes and goes with weather changes and atmospheric pressure changes. It may disappear as quickly as it showed up.


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Jay Nicholas


Plumbing & Heating (warm air, hot water & steam heat)


40 years in the business, 35 years as a lic. master plumber in NY State. Retired

Graduated Magna cum laude at the School of Hard Knocks

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Commercial, residential and light industrial. You name it ...I have probably worked on it

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