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Thread: Smelly Hot Water

  1. #1
    Mechanical Engineer SteV8e's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Minneapolis, MN

    Default Smelly Hot Water

    I recently experienced smelly water (suddenly) from an old (15+ years) Montgomery Wards water heater. A plumber quoted me $250 to replace the magnesium rod or $600 to replace the whole water heater. I had him install a new GE 50 gallon electric water heater. Three weeks later the smell is back. I live in a Minneapolis suburb that has well water. The plumber that installed the heater does not know what to do.

    I have heard from other plumbers that I have contacted, that it could be solved by replacing the rod with an aluminum rod, by removing the rod and not replacing it, or by installing a water filter on the supply. I have also heard that replacing or removing the rod will void the warranty (12 years).

    I don't know what to do. I have the new water heater and I have stinky hot water again. Please help.
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  2. #2
    Plumber/Gasfitter dubldare's Avatar
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    Sep 2005
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  3. #3


    Don't take this as gospel...but I'd say there is some bacteria still remaining in the hot water lines. Flushing out with bleach probably will do a world of good. This same bacteria is known for growing on the magnesium rod so dosing the water heater as well as the hot water pipes with bleach could help knock it out. Old water heaters that are infrequently used or sit up for an extended period of time develop this problem. My neighbor had the same problem when they started using the hot water at their rennovated lake house. Fortunately, after a few showers and big weekend at the lake the problem flushed itself out....but I'm betting it will return if they don't use the lake house for a couple of months.

    check out this post.... http://www.terrylove.com/forums/show...ight=magnesium
    Last edited by Randyj; 01-04-2007 at 05:16 PM.

  4. #4
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    New Hampshire


    If you increase the water heater temperature to 140 F you should kill the bacteria.

    You have to be prepared to deal with the temperature to prevent scalding, especially if you have children. Most new shower valves are temperature regulating. You can also put a "tempering valve" on the outlet of the water heater. The tempering valve mixes cold water with the hot water to lower the temperature.


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