We have a rental house that sat empty for several months. During that
time, I left the gas water heater on the "Vacation" setting, to keep the
pilot lit, and keep some warmth in the pipes during what passes for
"cold" weather in the NW. Now there is a strong sulphur odor from the
hot water. A renter has only just moved in, so I'm not sure yet if the
odor will go away with regular use. If not, should I drain the tank, or
are there other things I should try?
If the source is your water heater:
* Remove or replace the magnesium anode.
* Disinfect and flush the water heater with a bleach solution.
* Increase the water temperature to 160 degrees Fahrenheit for
several hours to kill the bacteria, then flush the heater.
If you are not very familiar with water heater operation and
maintenance, contact a plumber or water heater dealer to perform the
Greater than 140F is required to kill everything. Remember to
set it back below 140F after a few hours or a day or two. Then it's
best to get the killed goo out - there could be quite a bit.
Flushing a largish HWT will take quite a long time, so if it's
possible, drain and refill it once or twice before letting it
run for a while to flush. Draining it will also get sediment
Bleach also works if you have a way to inject it. A cup is more
than enough for a HWT, let it soak for 24 hours before flushing
Age and Treachery will Triumph over Youth and Skill
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