Blog

Hot Water Heater Smells Like Rotten Eggs

It’s frustrating to come home after a long day’s work and draw a hot bath only to realize your hot water smells like rotten eggs.

Unfortunately, this stinky problem plagues homeowners far and wide. Fortunately, there is an easy(ish) way to fix it.

Read on to learn why your hot water smells like rotten eggs and what you can do about it.

2 Reasons Your Hot Water Heater Smells Like Rotten Eggs

If your heated water smells like gas or sulfur, there are two common reasons.

If you have a water softener, know that softened water can sometimes accumulate hydrogen sulfide gas. This is what gives off that putrid rotten egg odor. If it occurs specifically when you run the hot water, a faulty component of the hot water heater is likely the culprit.

Reason #1: The Anode Rod is Corroded

Within your water heater is a component called the anode rod. The anode rod attracts corrosive agents in the water. Over time, the anode rod will corrode. When this happens, it can cause a reaction between the anode rod and sulfate in the water. As a result, the hot water will start to smell funky.

How to Fix a Corroded Anode Rod in 5 Steps

The simple solution is to replace the anode rod. To do this, you’ll need to locate the anode rod and confirm that it is in fact corroded.

If you’ve never changed an anode rod, here’s how:

Materials

  • Garden hose
  • Wrench, pipe, and socket
  • Thread sealing compound

Directions

Step 1. Turn the power to the water heater off.

 Before you start, make sure the power to your heater is off. If you have an electrical heater, the off switch will be located at the circuit breaker in the fuse box.

If you have a gas heater, turn the gas control valve down to the lowest setting instead of turning it completely off.

Step 2. Turn off the cold water supply.

 Turn off the cold water supply and connect the hose to the drain valve. Drain the water into a bucket or available drain. Be careful when doing this since the hose can get very hot!

Step 3. Locate the anode rod. 

The anode rod looks like a hexagonal plug and is typically located at the top of the tank. Sometimes, however, it can be located on the side.

Step 4. Drain the water.

 Drain the water until the level is below a side-mounted rod. Once the water level is low enough, locate the drain valve and turn it off. At this point, the lack of water will create a vacuum in the tank, so you should turn on a nearby hot water tap. This will ensure there isn’t too much pressure inside the tank, allowing you to safely remove the anode rod.

Step 5. Remove the anode rod.

Using the socket wrench, remove the anode rod if it’s corroded. Install the new anode rod.

Reason #2: Sulfur Bacteria

If the anode rod isn’t corroded, the hot water’s sulfur smell could be due to sulfur bacteria growth.

Sulfur bacteria occurs naturally in the water supply and can breed in the water heater, causing an increase in hydrogen sulfide gas.

How to Reduce Sulfur Bacteria in 8 Steps

You can reduce the accumulation of sulfur bacteria and the smell of rotten eggs by performing a hydrogen peroxide flush. Here’s how:

Materials

  • 3% hydrogen peroxide; you will need about 1-2 quarts for every 40 gallons of water
  • Gloves

Directions

Step 1. Turn the power to the heater off.

Before you get started, make sure the power to the heater is off. If you have an electrical heater, the off switch will be located at the circuit breaker in the fuse box.

If you have a gas heater, turn the gas control valve down to the lowest setting instead of turning it completely off.

Step 2. Turn off the cold water supply.

Turn off the cold water supply and connect the hose to the drain valve. Drain the water into a bucket or an available drain. Be careful when doing this since the hose can get very hot!

Step 3. Add the 3% hydrogen peroxide.

The amount to add is based on the size of the water tank. If it’s a 40 gallon tank, you should add 1 to 2 quarts of the 3% hydrogen peroxide.

Step 4. Open the cold water intake valve.

Do this until the tank is full.

Step 5. Shut the valve and wait.

Important Note: This will take a few hours!

Step 6. Flush the tank.

After a few hours have passed, flush the tank by turning the cold water valve and hot water back on. Wait for the tank to refill as normal.

Step 7. Check for the odor.

Is the water cloudy? Is the smell still present? If so, flush the tank again.

Step 8. Restore the power.

Once the flush is successful and there is no cloudiness or odor to the water, restore the power to the tank.

Contact Sansone for Plumbing Repair in South Florida

If your hot water heater is still emitting an offensive odor, or if you’d rather leave this plumbing project to the professionals, Sansone can help. We offer a variety of quick, efficient, quality plumbing services to the South Florida area and beyond. Contact us today to learn more or to schedule an appointment with one of our trusted plumbers.

Broward: (954) 800-2858
Palm Beach: (561) 701-8274
St. Lucie: (772) 879-5656

Schedule Service

Comments