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Water Quality/Rotton Egg Smell


QUESTION: We had a certified plumber change the anode in our water heater at our vacation home. We drained it several times but there is still a slight smell. Our plumber told us to purchase a water purifier like swimming pool chemicals, empty a few gallons and remove the rod. Then pour in the chemicals and let them set a few hours before draining the tank, filling it, and draining it again. Is there something especially for water heaters we can purchase? And Where?

ANSWER: Hi Larry;
Thanks for your question. I hope you are having a Happy Thanksgiving! I have run into similar problems in the past. Here are a couple of solutions that were successful on odors IF the  the odors are ONLY FROM THE HOT WATER! You can use regular non-scented bleach  and follow the directions for removing the anode rod etc. as your plumber advised. The longer you let it sit before draining the better. You might add one extra step;run the chlorinated water through the hot water plumbing in the house and let it sit awhile then drain. If the smell is from a buildup in the water heater this should take care of it. In one application I had a charcoal in-line filter installed after the water heater and this eliminated the smell. Of course this means changing filter cartridges now and again.This was for a moderate problem.Lastly, if the odor is from the anode rod itself you might switch to an aluminum anode rod. They do the same job as the traditional magnesium rods do but without the odor!
The best advice is to visit and find a certified water analyst in your area to test the water in order to find the root cause of the odor.They will usually do this without cost.Then they will offer solutions.You will then have the information you need to make an intelligent decision.
Good Luck,

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Thank you for your help, but we still have the bad smell in "only" the hot water from the tank. The Drinking water is just perfect and always has been. I checked with the neighbors and local businesses and no one has a heater with an anode in it. I am starting to think the plumber had an anode heater he wanted to get rid of and when he replaced my heater he used the anode heater. I think I'm going to try something, but would like to run it by you first. I would like to remove the anode from the heater and replace it with a plug... or if I can, saw the anode off the plug and just put the plug back in. The way I see it, we had no problem before the anode, we replaced the old old one with a new one, it didn't work, so get rid of the anode... end of problem. What do you think, Fred. I'll be waiting for your answer... Larry

Hi Larry;
Happy New Year!  Thanks for asking. I think that what you propose to do is OK. You might want to clean the water heater after you remove the rod.It is done alot. However,removing the anode rod usually nullifies any warranty of the manufacturer.
Good Luck

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Fred E. Brunetti CWSV


My field of expertise is in domestic water treatment. I am retired and have 28 years of experience in the water treatment field. I have earned the designation of Water Specialist, level five, from the Water Quality Association.I can offer help in the solution for private wells` problems as to `point of entry` and `point of use` treatments. these would include,disinfection,conditioning,and purification for drinking including reverse osmosis technology. Problems concerning well pumps,or plumbing or well drilling are out of my field,as well as commericial,industrial or municipal water treatment. I prefer to limit questions to the average homeowner`s use.Since retiring I have added consultation on the care and ,maintenance of domestic water treatment systems. These include filtration, conditioning/softening,chemical feed, and drinking water systems.


over 28 years testing private wells and application of various water treatment systems for a 65 year old water treatment company.Now retired and doing independent water consulting.BR>
Water Quality Association

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