My wife and I built a second house on our property last year. After some
months of it laying dormant, we are now using the building. We've noticed
a very strong smell of eggs/sulfur when we run the water, particularly
(and possibly only) with hot water.
The water feed to this building is from the same source as the main house,
which has impeccable water. So, it seems like there is either a problem
with the water heater, or with the part of the water line after it splits
off from the main house.
Does anyone have any idea what the problem (and solution) might be?
Here's where I wound up, with the same problem:
The problem arose right after I installed a Rheem water heater, so
there's something specifically about the internals of the unit that seem
guilty; numerous web searches tend to suggest replacing the original
anode with one made of aluminum.
I ordered it a few days ago, and I'll know how well it does the job in a
Initially, I tried shocking the whole plumbing system with chlorine
(bleach); each time, the water was OK for a few weeks before the problem
started creeping back.
Andrew Barss wrote:
I have had a similar problem in my home where water is derived from a
deep well located in iron rich ledge about 50 feet from the Atlantic
Ocean on the cost of Maine. I have isolated and I believe identified
archaea in my water. The best way that I have found to visualize these
are with an electron microscope, oil immersion optical microscopy can be
used but I find it more difficult. Many folks loosely refer to this
life form as sulfur reducing bacteria, although they are not bacteria at
Archaea are the same life forms (not harmful to humans) that are found
in superheated vents at the bottom of the ocean or in natural vents such
as you'll find at Yellowstone. The organisms are anaerobic and don't
utilize carbon and oxygen for life as humans do, rather they utilize
iron and sulfur as found in iron pyrite...fool's gold.)
They thrive and multiply in hot water and particularly like the
temperatures found in hot water heaters. Hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg
odor) is liberated by these little folks. The magnesium used in most
water heater anode rods is said to be a contributing factor. I too have
an aluminum anode rod waiting to be installed. Hopefully in the next
month or two I'll have time to experiment with it.
I've had good success in reducing their population by installing an
ultraviolet sterilizer in series with the water from my well.
For a very interesting and readable treatment of this life form read
"The Surprising Archaea" by Prof. John Howland of Bowdoin College.
Andrew Barss wrote:
In the water treatment industry, sulfate reducing bacteria (SRB) is a sort
of catch all phrase for a group of life forms found in ground water. The
same applies to iron reducing bacteria. Both groups can cause hot water only
odor in water heaters. Increasing the temp of the hater to 140f usually
stops the odor problem. It also kills Legionella which is becoming a problem
in water heaters due t oreducing the temp. Changing the anode rod can
prevent the odor but if any of the old rod material falls off into the tank,
it ca ncontinue causiing the odor.
UV kills SRB but... although it kills IRB too that causes iron to be
released into the water which can cause staining of fixtures etc.. So UV is
not a solution if IRB is present also.
Quality Water Associates
Bulletin Board www.qualitywaterassociates.com/phpBB2/
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.