Smelly Water - Help!

Ok, this one has been vexing me, the neighbors and the plumbers and I'm hoping someone can help.
My house was built in 2000 and over the last 4 or 5 months I have noticed an increasingly strong odor when filling the tub or the washing machine or any area where a large amount of the water collects. Now then I'm noticing it when flushing the toilets and even from some of the faucets. The odor is not sulphur, not bleach, not sewer, not earthy smell (I've smelled all of these things in water before). The best I can explain it is that it is a semi-sharp, chemically smell, very distinct, but nothing I've smelled before. I am on city water and I've had three neighbors on either side over to smell it and no one can place it. They haven't had the problem and I've gone to 2 different houses to run water just to verify and there is absolutely no odor.
The smell is only there when running the water, both hot and cold. I have run the water into a plastic basin only to eliminate the possibility that it is coming out of the drain when the water runs in. The strange thing is that the smell dissapates after 5 minutes or so; it's as if it is a some type of gas venting out of the pipes. Taking a cup of the water away immediately from the source and the water doesn't smell or taste funny at all and the color is fine.
I tried turning off the main valve and opening several faucets, tub, etc. and then turned it back on and let it all run for 15 minutes or so. It then didn't smell (that I could notice) for almost 24 hours. It does seem to be much less when a large amount of water has been run; again, almost as if it's venting some smelly gas from the pipes.
Call to the city and they said no one has complained (confirmed by neighbors). Brought out the plumber and he was stumped. He'd never smelled the smell before. He checked the meter and it wasn't running so he didn't think there were any leaks. He called the office and the head guy swore it was the hot water heater. He said mine had an aluminum anode and I should replace with magnesium (which now that I read some posts seems backwards).
Anyway, now I have a new hot water heater and the smell was back in a day. I'm waiting to hear back from them and see if he is going to give me 95% of his paycheck he was willing to bet that day (I'm guessing no).
I'm at a complete loss here and everyone I talked to, has no idea and it is starting to worry me. Anyone have any idea on this one. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Thank you.
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Given the short lived nature of the smell after running the water, you can bet it is a dissolved gas. as such it might not show up in a simple test unless you tightly package the sample and indicate to the lab that is what you are looking for.
Try collecting the water into a closed plastic bag and let it sit then smell the air in the bag, if it seems stronger, it supports the gas theory.
It could have been methane caused by bacteria in the hot water tank but you just changed it so I am perplexed too. I suppose it could innoculate the new tank but so quickly??? Do you have other storage components in your system like an expansion tank or softner?
In any case, it dosen't sound harmful.

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Hydrogen sulfide smells like "rotten eggs" so if that's not what you're getting, I'm at a loss as well. Best bet is to get the water tested, probably for both minerals and bacteria. From there, you'll know what is wrong. Since you're on city water, I'd call to get them to test it and a few of your neighbors (just so they won't tell you it's your house alone). Cheers, cc
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1. what happens when you smell the city water at the neighbor's houses? 2. have the water tested by county health dept or a private water testing laboratory. for which there may be a fee or not? 3. take a gallon of it over to the swimming pool store where they test pool water for free and see if they come up with anything odd? 4. ask the local university to have their chem lab class come over for a field trip? 5. see also: http://www.waterheaterrescue.com/pages/WHRpages/English/Troubleshooting/stinky-water-in-hot-water-heaters.html
snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

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buffalobill wrote:

Ok, I called the health department to see about water testing as you suggested (thank you) and explained the situation and the first thing the lady asks me is if I have had new carpet installed recently. I was wondering what that had to do with anything, but I did have new carpet installed about 4 months ago after my washing machine dropped a hose and flooded my house.
She went on to explain that they have had many calls and they have tracked it down to chlorine dioxide in the water reacting with vapors from new carpet resulting in a "cat pee", "kerosene" or "ammonium" smell and it only happens when you run the water. I talked to one of the other people there and he gave me two written studies on the subject. They told me to try and vent the house best I could to eliminate the carpet and that is all they are telling people.
I haven't smelled much cat pee in my life, but this was the closest thing I have heard to my problem so I went home at lunch and opened all the windows and doors for 15 minutes. Then closed them all back up again and let sit for 5 minutes, then ran the water in the tub where the problem is unmistakable and there was no odor at all. I ran the washing machine too and it also didn't have the problem.
Now that I look, there are several postings (see the one below). I'm going to expirement some more, but this might be the problem. Thanks for all the replies, I'll post back if this takes care of the problem.

the air and combine with existing household odors. All homes have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the ambient air produced by scented products (soaps, candles, air fresheners, incense, potpourri), cleaning agents or solvents, paint, carpet, furnishings, fresh flowers or wreaths, and many other common household items. The VOC/chlorine dioxide combination odors have been described as smelling like fuel oil, kerosene, chemicals, or cat urine, to name the most common. Studies have not identified any health concerns associated with this combined odor.
The strongest odors are associated with installing new carpet, upholstered furniture or draperies, and interior painting. The odor will continue until the level of VOCs decreases (new smell goes away). This can take from a few weeks to several months to dissipate, depending on the situation, type of materials, amount of ventilation, etc. In enclosed areas with little ventilation, such as laundry rooms, basements, bathrooms, and closets, these compounds will accumulate, so the odor will tend to be stronger or last longer than in well ventilated areas. Increasing ventilation by opening windows and turning on fans will help to eliminate the odors more quickly.
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X-No-archive: yes snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

into the air and combine with existing household odors. All homes have volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the ambient air produced by scented products (soaps, candles, air fresheners, incense, potpourri), cleaning agents or solvents, paint, carpet, furnishings, fresh flowers or wreaths, and many other common household items. The VOC/chlorine dioxide combination odors have been described as smelling like fuel oil, kerosene, chemicals, or cat urine, to name the most common. Studies have not identified any health concerns associated with this combined odor.

--
Consider renting a commercial Ozone generator and letting it
run in the house for a weekend while you go somewhere. The
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snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

I assume city water, correct?
When did it start? Could it have started as the weather started warming up? What part of the word - country are you living?
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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On 29 Jun 2006 17:12:47 -0700, " snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com"

Do you a have a Reverse Osmosis system and Water Softener? I once had a "rotten-egg" smell, due to filters needing changing in my RO system.
Oren
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wrote:

IF you get your water from the Lake Michigan, it is prone to strange smells caused by Zebra mussels. IT seems that they have cleaned the water so much that sunlight can now penetrate to the water intake pipes causing Plankton blooms that get sucked in to the drinking water. Nothing toxic, jusyt smelly. IT comes and goes depending on conditions.
At least thats the explanation they sent around....
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thanks for your help on this here's a link to the water smell from arizona: http://www.cityofmesa.org/utilities/water/water_quality_report/faqs.asp
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