Hot water smells like rotton eggs

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by hardchines, Aug 13, 2009.

  1. hardchines

    hardchines Member Forum Leader

    The lambaster

  2. palandor

    palandor New Member

    The previous tank was literally date stamped from 1986 (put in the same time as the previous furnace and AC unit). Perhaps the rod was removed or was never replaced? I wouldn't be surprised at either.
    As I mentioned, I am on well water and have a basic water softener. Based on what I know now (after some serious researh into anodes, chemical reactions, and water softener/filter systems), I am thinking about taking out the anode and getting my (one-tank) water softener checked up and maybe upgrading it to something better that's more compatible with well water. At last check (about a year ago), water that bypassed the softener was between 42 & 47 for hardness and 2.2 to 2.5 for iron. (we've been in the house for 3 years; i know the resin needs refreshed.)

    So, if I do pull the anode and cap it, perhaps I should ask what I should do to improve the quality of water before it goes into the water heater? (you know, besides setting the water softener setting correctly, replacing/cleaning the resin bed, using rust-buster salt pellets..) The cold water doesn't stink at all but softened has rust visiblly settling in drinking water cups or cat water dishes.

    And to geome: I'm not sure why more people don't get water heater timers with geothermal installs. Seems like a match made in energy-efficient heaven. :)

    Thanks everyone for answering this post after such a long time. Most of the reason I posted here is because it's on-topic! :) (although it has taken me a bit to get used to seeing the most recent post at the top of page 1.)
  3. Forum Admin

    Forum Admin Administrator Staff Member Forum Leader

    You can change ordering in User CP but the ordering of posts should be oldest first by default. Looks like I inadvertently changed a setting sometime ago.

    Oldest posts are displayed for all users now.

    Sorry for the inconvenience.
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  4. AMI Contracting

    AMI Contracting A nice Van Morrison song Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Was just poking fun. Perhaps I should apologize.:eek:

    other examples of things that should not be let out: grenade pins and pet tigers:D
  5. geome

    geome Member Forum Leader

    palandor, wow, that's hard water. Ours is 9 to 11 grains hard and 0.5 mg/l of iron. Have your water tested before and after the water softener to make sure it's doing it's job. We just replaced a 17 year old mechanical system with a digital one. The old one was neglected by prior homeowners. Iron was so bad in the resin (lifetime warranty on the resin) that the tank had to be taken to the shop and refreshed with industrial strength iron removers. We retired the system due to timer problems and inefficiency.

    Anyway, our softener installer has us using Iron-Out ever 3 months, and then some chlorine bleach every 3 months (not at the same time.) See what your installer suggests for your system to maintain it.

    LoL - grenade pins!
  6. hardchines

    hardchines Member Forum Leader

    G:Dood one pins and tigers!
  7. palandor

    palandor New Member

    Update on my water situation

    After talking with the installer, they agreed to remove the anode rod and continue (in writing) the 6 year tank warranty. :)

    When the rod was removed, I saw that it was really nasty looking and covered with white sludge (mostly soft, but some partly crystal-like) with small black spots. The tech cut the rod off about 1 inch below the bolt head and put re-used the plug (he said most tanks had oddly sized plugs).
    After he left, I flushed the water heater & geo HWG lines (as before, I did not use any chemicals like bleach or peroxide). (I did see and feel stuff flush out of the bottom of the tank.) I also cleaned out the mush in the water softener and replaced the regular salt pellets with iron-reducing salt pellets. No more stains on things. I also turned my water softener down from 42 to 30 because the brine tank was now free of 3 or 4 years of mush (my ignorance led to that).
    At the end of those three weeks I again turned it down to 25 (a lot of rain has occurred and everything is super-saturated which seems to dilute the amount of hard elements in my water.) Water is soft and does not appear to become hard before regeneration.

    However, 3 weeks after the removal of the rod, I still have stinky hot water. Cold water is still fine and does not smell. The water heater timer has been set for 2 sessions a day for about 90 minutes twice each weekday and 2.5 hours twice each weekend day.

    (to review: before the new water heater & geo install, I had no water heater timer, heating rod temperatures were both set at 130f, and there were no problems with smell.)

    I'm out of ideas. Thought I'd come here and fish before I call the installer. (again.) I researched a variety of iron filters (such as a filox) and chlorination (addition & removal) systems, but would prefer not to add either if I can help it, especially since water was fine before the geo & water heater install.

    Two questions come to mind:
    1) is flushing the tank & hwg lines without bleach or peroxide not doing the job well enough?
    2) what else is there to do that I'm not doing that y'all are?

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  8. geome

    geome Member Forum Leader

    Just a thought - if you want to eliminate possibilities, you can try flushing the system again. After that you could set both thermostats to 130f, leave the timer "on", and see what happens.

    Unrelated to your problem - what timer are you using? I'm curious.
  9. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Well water w/iron & smells


    I have a well with high iron, 3.4 ppm, also getting rotten egg smell. Just purchased an iron filter (not a water softener, hardness OK). From what I read, of course info was from a few different on-line filter companies trying to sell you stuff, the iron filter will remove the sulfur and manganese that they say causes the egg smell.

    I will report back after I have been using the filter for a while to see if my smell goes away.

    The iron filter has a combination of media in it: Pyrolox, Greensand, Garnet. I have to also inject soda ash to raise PH.

    The guy that dug the well pretty much said I have been dooped, that all I needed was a softener, but obviously your softener is not helping with the smells.

    Last edited: Mar 7, 2011
  10. hardchines

    hardchines Member Forum Leader

    Odd size plug? I hope NO rod is still in in the water, if it is, buy a 1" pipe plug (brass) and replace it, when the plug is out dump 1/2 a quart of bleach in tank, run some water to get bleach in lines, bypass that timer and leave the water temp UP all the time, let sit with bleach in system for eight hours and then purge. That's my 10c worth.
  11. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    2 anode rods

    My 12yr warranty tank also has a rod attached to the hot water outlet nipple. If yours is 6yr it may not have the second rod.
  12. palandor

    palandor New Member

    I will likely try that again. On one of the previous attempts when the rod was still in the tank, I had the timer "on" continuously and both heating element temperatures set at about 138 and the problem came back in about the same amount of time. Of course, having the water temp up that high negates almost all water heating benefits of the geo unit.

    I chose Intermatic EH40 timer. It does what it is supposed to, looks good, and is easy to use (ie, push a button to override the programming until the next scheduled "off" event). Easy to program. The electrician wired it in so I can't tell you if it was easy to hook up, but it sure looks easy.

  13. palandor

    palandor New Member


    Thanks. I'm very interested to see what your result is with the iron filter in place.
  14. geome

    geome Member Forum Leader

    I agree. Only suggested on a temporary basis to eliminate some possibilities.

    Good thought from ChrisJ regarding the possibility of multiple anodes. The manual or the manufacturer may be able to tell you if you have a second anode without you having to pull the water lines.

    Can what's still left of the old anode (where it was cut off) still be causing the problem?

    Thanks. We have that timer as well. You can get creative with the on/off settings. For example, you can set for 3am-6am Mon-Sun. Then, you can set an off time (with no on time) at let's say 5am on days with less than maximum hot water use (like days with no laundry.) Of course, there are 6 timers that can be set (as you know) with various combinations of days, so there are many of ways of getting the schedule you want.
  15. Mark Custis

    Mark Custis Not soon. Industry Professional Forum Leader

    Hardchines beat me to the answer. The last time I pulled an anode it was 3/4". So I might get both sizes and by all means go with brass.
  16. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    Well, (ha ha) The iron filter has been filtering for 5 days. The smell was gone almost instantly. Set up of filter tank was a bit of an ordeal. Bags of different types of media layered in tank.

    Once set up and plumbed the media needed to be rinsed, 10 hrs of water running through the tank.

    The iron stains used to return to our tub and toilet the day after cleaning, nothing after 5 days.

  17. palandor

    palandor New Member

    Thanks for sharing; I'm really glad to hear the smell is gone. It is interesting that you are using the iron filter without a water softener. Could I ask you to detail exactly which Brand Make & Model you got please? I'll look up the details on it to see what it specs out at. (if you are curious, I have an EcoWater ECR 3000-R30 water softener).

    For an update from my end of things, I have had the water heater timer in the 'always-on' mode for about 10 days (130f upper and 110f lower element settings) and have noticed a lessening of the smell. So perhaps a water heater timer may be a great idea for those with iron filtered or chlorinated water but not so great for well water with a softener. (no replacement plug yet, waiting to see if the minimal remaining metal dissolves so that I don't need to buy a brass replacement plug.)

    I may try changing the timer from 'always-on' to 'timer' in the summer when the geo unit sucking heat out and heating the water really well to see if that works since it doesn't seem to be running often enough at the moment. But that's assuming the summer is average 73-95 versus last summer which was much cooler on average.

  18. geome

    geome Member Forum Leader

    We don't have any problems with smell, and we have a timer, well water, and a softener, but our water quality is relatively good. About 9 to 11 grains hard and 0.5 mg/l before the softener. We also have a Marathon water heater (not a metal tank), which may or may not make a difference.
  19. ChrisJ

    ChrisJ Active Member Forum Leader

    The iron filter is from Budget, Terminox 10"x54" tank, they size it by flow rate. I also got an injector pump for injecting soda ash to raise ph, Terminox needs 7.5-7.7 ph to filter without reducing longevity of filter media. They also said i could mix chlorine in the same tank as the soda ash to kill any iron bacteria, the Terminox will remove the dead bacteria and chlorine. I told them the hardness level, they said I don't need a softener.

  20. sunnyflies

    sunnyflies Member Forum Leader

    Interesting. I, too, have a sulfur smell in our water. It's definitely in the hot water. I did a bit of research and learned that sometimes aluminum anode rods can be the source, especially when water is being softened as ours is, so I had the anode changed on our A O Smith 50 gal metal tank last week from an aluminum one to a new zinc/aluminum one. (I have seen aluminum ones get eaten to bits in our acidy well water in the past.) However, the 85 gal Marathon water heater which is fiberglass has no anode - but, boy did it smell when we drained some water from it!

    I contacted both AO Smith and Marathon - through my salesperson - and each e-mailed me similar instructions to kill off the iron bacteria they said was the problem, and which I suspected it might be after reading about "smelly water" all over the web. Smith's were more intensive. Both said that the tanks needed a gallon of bleach for every thirty gallons of water to be treated, plus the mixture had to be run through the lines in order to kill off the bacteria, which makes sense. Each gave different times for the clorinated water to stay in the heater and the lines, and A O Smith's method flushed the pipes more.

    My plumber was completely flumoxed. He'd never heard of such a thing before. I sent him home, after thanking him for changing the anode. Now I am trying to decide what to do.

    My question would be: would clorinating the hot water system harm the geo thermal system in some way? I think I'm going to call my installer.

    (Marathon: 1-800-321-6718 ext 4092;

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