I've tried everything possible to cure a hydrogen sulfide problem with
my water heater, including replacing the anode with aluminum and
strongly chlorinating the entire plumbing system several times.
The only thing that works is chlorinating the water periodically. I do
this the only way that makes sense -- by removing the anode and pouring
in about a cup of bleach.
This creates two problems. One, of course, is that the concentration of
bleach will start off high and drop off gradually as the hot water is
used up. So, initially, I'll have water that smells of bleach, and at
the end of the period, the water will smell like hydrogen sulfide.
The other problem is that it's an annoyance to have to drain the tank a
bit, pull the anode, pour in a measure of bleach, and reattach the
anode. Sooner or later, those threads will die.
I've searched for an inline chlorinator, but every search engine combo
I've tried pulls up swimming pool information. I can't find any
chlorinator that's for a residential water heater (or residential system
for that matter).
Had a similar problem. I put a TEE on the Cold inlet with a plug
that could be removed. Still a pain...
Then I found a laboratory chemical feed pump.
These will meter a precise volume under high pressure.
Connect pump to the Cold line thru a corrosion-resistant check valve.
I have mine chlorinating all the water, but it could just as well
feed only the heater. It has been 100% effective in removing odor
and slime buildup. A timer running off the well pump decides how
long the feed pump runs.
See what you can find on eBay if new pumps are too pricey.
Would you have the brand name of the pump? I think what I need are a
few key words for a product search.
I've spent a lot of time using search engines, and I have more to learn,
but everything I'd pull up is either industrial or swimming pool, like I
Even the 'Tee' connection would be a step up. If I can chlorinate on a
regular basis, maybe once a week, I could maintain that nice equilibrium
where the water doesn't smell like anything at all.
There's one on eBay now:
It's overkill but should work.
It will probably need to run only a few seconds per day;
the amount of chlorination is small. Use a dilute mixture.
You can search Grainger's for feed pumps (they're pricey new).
I love overkill.
That's a pretty formidable looking piece of equipment. Cool. I would
plumb one end to a reservoir of some type, and the other to the WH
inlet? Would I have to run the tap at the same time? Otherwise, it
would just compress against the city supply, wouldn't it?
Is there maybe a page to describe this process? I'm reasonably good at
plumbing, and getting a halfway stable chlorine content shouldn't take
too much trial & error. It would sure beat pulling the anode every time.
Thanks for the tip!
The pump will create enough pressure to overcome city pressure
(I think this one was rated at 100 PSI).
From the pic, this one looks like a "peristaltic" pump.
You might look that up.
Might get away without installing a check valve.
Having the water heater manufacturer fix the problem for free would beat ALL
other solutions. Did you call them today?
Separate questions, to be answered separately, with lots of white space.
White space is good.
1) What's the source of the "pollution"?
2) If chlorine works, is it because there's a biological agent at work which
is killed by the chlorine? Or, is the chlorine simply changing a non-organic
3) If no organic agent at work, what would be the result of adding a water
softening system? In other words, the addition of salt would certainly
affect the pH of the water. Would this alleviate the problem in any way? I'm
no chemist, but in two other situations (gardening and keeping a fish tank),
I've found that chemicals like fungicides or fish medicine (sledge hammers)
are not the solution. What comes first is changing the chemical environment
in some other way.
4) Is the chlorine simply working as a masking scent, like the crap that's
in laundry soaps just to delight the ladies? Are you sure it's actually
eliminating the hydrogen sulfide, or just fooling your nose until it runs
5) The million dollar question: Have you consulted with your local water
authority? If yes, and you got no good answers, did you say to someone "You
and I are gonna be close friends until you hook me up with someone who knows
what they're talking about"?
Not certain. Problem began almost immediately after installing a Rheem
(GE) electric water heater. Not a certain cause/effect, but when the
hot water goes south right after replacing the water heater, the
connection looks solid.
We had this identical problem (smelly hot water) years ago when the
anode rod deteriorated. At that time, we had a new rod installed, and
that cured the problem right away.
This time, the problem refuses to die.
I suspect biological, but nothing to base that on. No problem at all
with the cold water. Only the heated. Since the cold is OK, I'm
guessing that the chlorine is killing bacteria that arose / grew in the
Water softener (Kinetico, works great) was present before & after
I'm pretty certain that there's no masking. After the chlorine is
diluted to the point that no chlorine smell is present, the water
situation is fine for a few weeks. (I don't use a lot of hot water).
The smell will return very gradually.
There's about a 4-week cycle there.
No. The main reason I haven't called the city water department is the
timing. No trouble until the GE was installed. No trouble with the
OK. I forgot to ask how old the water heater is. Whatever the case, I'd get
in touch with the manufacturer and stick with them like a bad rash until
they arrange for the problem to be fixed WITHOUT your having to play with
chlorine. They're simple devices, but like everything else we buy, water
heaters are not immune to problems from manufacturing shortcuts. The dip
tube mess is a prime example.
Call the manufacturer and turn the screws.
From this page, which also mentions chlorinating systems:
Odors from Hot Water Only
"Rotten egg" odors from hydrogen sulfide are sometimes only present in
hot water. This may indicate a reaction with the magnesium rod in the
water heater. Consider either removal or replacement with an aluminum
rod as a remedy. Sometimes hot water will have a "sour" smell, similar
to the smell of an old damp rag. This happens when, in an effort to save
energy or to avoid blending hot and cold water, the thermostat of the
water heater is lowered. Odor-causing bacteria live and thrive in warm
water and can infest the water heater. This is corrected by returning
the thermostat to its recommended temperature, because the odor-causing
bacteria are killed at the higher water temperature (at or above 140
degrees). Caution: Be sure the water heater has an operable pressure
relief valve before increasing the water temperature. If you want to
keep your water heater temperature at a lower setting because scalding
from hot water is a concern, each time the odor returns, increase the
water temperature for a few hours to kill the odor-causing bacteria.
Then flush the very hot water out of the tank and lower the temperature
back to the desired level.
On Wed, 20 Oct 2004 01:57:18 +0000, Robert Barr wrote:
How about installing an activated charcoal filter system on the cold water
supply before the heater? I had a similar problem that was exaggerated by
the fact that the hot water was use infrequently which gave the water in
the tank time to grow bacteria.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.