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Thread: water heater anode + okay to empty tank + rotten egg odour

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member francisg3's Avatar
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    Default water heater anode + okay to empty tank + rotten egg odour

    Hello,
    I own a cottage in the northern part of Canada. The water supply here contains a lot of of metal, iron or magnesium I am told. I have an electric water heater and the hot water smells of rotten eggs. The cold water does not.

    I have read on the internet that it is possible to clean the tank out with some mixture of bleach and hot water. Is this recommended? Are there any other ways to get rid of the odour?

    From what I have been told changing the tank wo9uld solve the problem for a little while but the problem would soon return. Would it be okay to empty the tank when it is not going to be used? It would be empty for periods of about two weeks before being refilled. What effect wouldt his have on the anode rod?

    Any suggestions as to how to get rid of the odour would help.

    Thank you.

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Change the anode rod to one of a different type and you'll probably get rid of the smell. The hard part is getting the old one out...an impact wrench or a big wrench and someone else holding the tank so it doesn't rotate is often required. If you don't have much room vertically, they sell 'segmented' replacement anodes that can be bent so you can install them. You may have to cut or break the old rod as you take it out (just don't drop it back into the tank!), since it is likely a single solid rod.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Junior Member Superduper's Avatar
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    Suggest reading up on the various solutions on www.waterheaterrescue.com They recommend an Al-Zn anode, but also dosing the waterheater with hydrogen peroxide (NOT bleach) when the unit sits a long time. Apparently, there is bacteria that interact with the metals in the anodes metals that create the smell. You need the anode for corrosion protection, but the type of metal used makes a difference. Or you can kill the bacteria by H2O2 (hydrogen peroxide) temporarily, but likely to come back with time.

    I had this problem in a previous home; always would have to flush the waterheater after I didn't use for 3-4 days; became a ritual on returning to the house. It was OK when used constantly.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Master Plumber Redwood's Avatar
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    Change the Anode to an aluminum/zinc/tin anode and bleach the tank to kill the sulphur reducing bacteria...

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