Three Ways To Stop Foul Odors From Your Water Heater

Posted on: 12 July 2019

If you've noticed a foul smell coming from your faucets whenever you run hot water, the culprit can be your water heater. There are several reasons this smell can start to occur, but the good news is that very few reasons require something expensive like replacing your tank, though you may need a plumber's help. Here are three ways to try to fix the problem.

Replace the Anode Rod

The inside of your water heater is typically coated with a material like porcelain to help prevent rusting, but over time, the metal beneath the protective coating can get exposed. In order to prevent the tank itself from rusting, it has an anode rod. This is a metal rod that sticks down inside the tank in order to rust on purpose so that your tank doesn't. This helps your tank last much longer and replacing one of these rods is much cheaper than replacing your whole tank.

The problem is that these rods are made from several different types of metals, some of which can start producing a foul smell. Typically, the ones that begin to smell are made of magnesium or pure aluminum. If the rod is definitely causing your problems, you can replace it with one made of aluminum and zinc. This will still serve the same purpose and function the same way, but without the sulfur smell in your water.

Flush Your Tank

The foul smell itself generally comes from hydrogen sulfide gas produced by bacteria. Generally, water is chlorinated to prevent this, but your chlorine levels may be low, or you've been away from home, leaving water sitting in your tank for longer than usual. Regardless of the reason, you can often alleviate this problem by flushing your tank. This involves essentially draining all water in your tank and then letting it refill.

This is a little more complicated than it might first sound because, in order to do this, you need to disconnect your heater from its fuel source as well as shut off the water going into the tank. There's also the matter of safely removing the water inside, which can be very hot. A plumber can help you safely through this process. Once it's finished, you may need to run the water to get rid of the old water in your pipes, but after that, the smell should be gone.

Add Water Filtration

In some rarer cases, the water coming into your home will be the problem, and the water in your tank only a symptom. If this is the case, you may be able to add a water filtration system to your incoming water supply. This can be a little challenging to test on your own as any water you test from inside your home will have already run through your water heater, making the results less certain.

A plumber can help you run a definitive test on your incoming water supply and also to set up a filtration system if necessary. Whole-house filtration systems can get a little expensive, so this is a good last-resort option, but they're made to last for several hundreds of thousands of gallons. 

Talk with a water heater specialist if you're having problems with odor. 


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