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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    89

    Default Smelly hot water - help!

    Hi all,

    My wife, baby and I just came back from a 2 week trip and noticed that our hot water smells. The cold water is fine, but the hot water smells pretty nasty. My wife thinks it smells metallic, to me it reminds me of that stale smell that comes from a long dead dried mouse or the like.

    Either way, it's pretty gross, and I'm not sure what's causing it. Our water heater is on it's way out, is it trying to tell us that it wants to retire? Is the smelly water safe to bathe our 3 month old in?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,073

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    Assuming that you have a gas water heater, it sounds like a chemical build up inside the tank, specifically sulfides.

    A quick remedy would be to replace the aluminum anode.

    However, if you are about to replace the water heater, for whatever reason you have, it doesn't make sense to invest in it.
    Go ahead, replace it now.

    As far as safety in bathing a baby: I won't bathe a baby in this water, why take a chance?

    And never use hot water from the water heater for cooking.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    Thanks for the response.

    Sounds like I'll be calling a plumber to get our hot water heater replaced asap, since I don't want to go to long without bathing our infant!

    With that being said, any suggestions on water heaters? Right now I'm looking at the Kenmore Power Miser line (40 gallons), either 9 or 12 year warranties. I think they come with magnesium anodes?
    Last edited by MBeach; 05-22-2011 at 07:29 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
    Posts
    5,073

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    I don't know how old your water heater is, but if you are going to replace it, there are a few more items that your plumber should look at:

    1. REPLACE the hot and cold flex supply lines, if any.
    2. REPLACE the shut off valve to the cold side.
    3. INSPECT the gas shut off valve and gas line. If damaged, replace.
    4. INSPECT the vent.
    5. If you are in earthquake country, install safety straps.
    6. If it is located in the garage, a gas heater must be elevated off the floor.
    7. The temprature and pressure relief valve has to have a 3/4" copper pipe to the outside of the house.

    Tell him about these, then check that he did what you expected him to do.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    Quote Originally Posted by dj1 View Post
    I don't know how old your water heater is, but if you are going to replace it, there are a few more items that your plumber should look at:

    1. REPLACE the hot and cold flex supply lines, if any.
    2. REPLACE the shut off valve to the cold side.
    3. INSPECT the gas shut off valve and gas line. If damaged, replace.
    4. INSPECT the vent.
    5. If you are in earthquake country, install safety straps.
    6. If it is located in the garage, a gas heater must be elevated off the floor.
    7. The temprature and pressure relief valve has to have a 3/4" copper pipe to the outside of the house.

    Tell him about these, then check that he did what you expected him to do.
    I'll be sure to have this list set up for him - thank you so much for the details.

    The hot water heater is from 1996. I just took a look at it and it's got some pretty heavy looking wear on it. When we bought our place a little over a year ago, the home inspector said it was close to it's end. If you'd like, I'd be happy to share a few pics here.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    florida
    Posts
    598

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    By any chance do you have a well ?????
    Gizmo

    Cut it 3 times & it's still to short.
    Inventor of the Miter Master Plus.

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  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Houston Texas
    Posts
    2,358

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    Many hot water heaters that set for long period without use start to get a rotten egg smell. Contrary to common sense, water filters make this odor worse.

    The hydrogen ions are attacking the anode, making hydrogen sulfide gas...... you get the picture.

    There is an easy fix I discovered on line when a renter was serving in the military; Add about a quart of common bleach to the hot water tank. It will dissolve all the nasty bits. Flush out the tank, repeat the process if you want, and you'll be good to go. My renter has been back for 3 years with the same ancient tank and no problems.

    All you need to know and more from the state of Minnesota http://www.mrwa.com/watersmellrotteneggs.htm

    This link has all the instructions for adding the bleach http://www.cleanwaterstore.com/water-heater-odors.html

    Note that all sites recommend replacing the anodes. If you tank is of sufficient age and you can afford it, replace the tank.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    florida
    Posts
    598

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    The smell in your hot water likely comes from bacteria in the tank. Drain some water from the tank and then through the cold water input port. Add some hydrogen peroxide. Close up the system and then run some water from each tap and outlet (washing machine, dishwasher, etc.). The peroxide should kill the bacteria and eliminate the rotten smell. Keeping the water temperature above 150 degrees should ensure no bacteria can grow, but if you have small children or elderly people in the home, this may not be a viable option due to the risk of scalding.
    Gizmo

    Cut it 3 times & it's still to short.
    Inventor of the Miter Master Plus.

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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Location
    SoCal
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    5,073

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    MBeach,
    Installed in 1996? No need to see a photo.
    Dump it. You've got a lot of miles out this water heater.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Posts
    89

    Default Re: Smelly hot water - help!

    Thanks Houston, Gizmo. I had no idea that you could flush/clean/maintain a water heater. That's part of the beauty of this forum, I'm always learning! I just spent some time reading up on water heaters, very interesting.

    My water heater is pretty much shot, I think I've got to replace it. I'm about to order a new heater - I'm open to your thoughts/feedback on the Kenmore 40gal natural gas 12 year water heater (model #33114).

    Thanks!
    Last edited by MBeach; 05-23-2011 at 01:47 PM.

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