The smell of rotten eggs from water heaters is a common occurrence in many households. There are several possible causes for this odor, and it’s important to rule out any serious damage before looking into more minor issues.
A sulfur compound buildup is the most common cause of the rotten eggs’ smell. These compounds can be found in water from wells and are especially prevalent in hard water.
What Caused the Rotten Eggs Smell From Your Water Heater?
Hydrogen sulfide gas can enter your water heater when certain bacteria, like sulfate-reducing bacteria, break down the organic matter. These bacteria thrive in wet and warm conditions, which is why they are often found in water heaters. These bacteria can also be found in sewage systems, wells, and other water sources.
There are two main causes of sulfur compounds in water:
- Sulfur Bacteria
The most common cause for the smell of rotten eggs from water heaters is the presence of sulfur bacteria. These bacteria are naturally present in water, and they feed off the sulfur compounds released from the heating elements of the water heater.
As the bacteria feed off of the sulfur, they produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which is the source of the rotten egg smell.
The smell of rotten eggs can be powerful in water heaters that are not regularly maintained and serviced. This is because the buildup of bacteria, sediment, and other debris in the water heater can create an ideal environment for the bacteria to thrive.
- Corrosion of the Anode Rod
The anode rod, which is a metal rod that is installed in the water heater tank, neutralizes any corrosion of the water heater. Its purpose is to protect the tank from corrosion by attracting any stray electrical current that may form in the water heater tank and pipes. As part of this process, some of the metals on the anode rod are oxidized and released into solution as ions.
If these ions enter the water, they can cause a rotten egg smell. The problem with this is that if there is an issue with the anode rod, such as corrosion or damage, it may not be working properly and may need to be replaced.
How to Treat the Rotten Eggs Smell from Your Water Heater
The best way to fix this problem is by calling a professional and having them inspect your water heater.
If they discover that the anode rod needs to be replaced, they will install a new one for you. While replacement is ongoing, the plumber will also do a water flushing process that may help to fix the problem.
If sulfur bacteria cause it, then it can be treated by flushing out the hot water tank with chlorinated water. This will kill off the bacteria and remove any gas that has built up, which should solve the problem.
Preventing the Rotten Egg Smell
In order to prevent the rotten egg smell, you should always ensure that your water heater is properly maintained. You can also use a zinc anode rod and add a purification system to your water heater. This will prevent the buildup of sulfur bacteria, which will help to avoid rotten egg smells.
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