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First Rate Plumbing Heating and Cooling Inc Blog

What’s That Smell Coming From the Water Heater?

Imagine this: you are ready to take that refreshing hot shower. But all of a sudden, the water from the faucet starts smelling like rotten eggs. This is not a scenario you would like to face.

So, what makes water heaters smell awful? The reason is the generation of a gas hydrogen sulfide inside the heater.

In this article, we will talk about the main reasons behind the smell, and the steps you can take to prevent it.

How Does Hydrogen Sulfide Generate Inside Your Water Heater?

There are two reasons behind the formation of hydrogen sulfide inside the water heater.

  1. The anode rod of the water heater is failing.
  2. Presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria in the water

Failure of Anode Rod

The anode rod is a long steel rod connected to the top of the water heater. It is coated with a metal like zinc, magnesium, or aluminum. The main purpose of the anode rod is to work as a “sacrificial” piece and protect the main metal body of the water tank from corrosion.

Generally, anode rods can last between three to five years. But it may vary depending on the type of water in your area. Soft water with high levels of mineral content can dissolve anode rods within a year.

As the metals on the anode rod corrode, they react with the sulfate salts present in the water. These reactions generate hydrogen sulfide and result in a foul smell.

The remedy is to replace the anode rod with a new one by taking the support of a professional. It is best to use anode rods made with zinc or aluminum-zinc alloy. The reaction rate of zinc with sulfates is much lower than magnesium or aluminum.

Bacterial Presence in Water

The presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria in the water is a more challenging problem and might need elaborate corrective measures. Sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB) are found widely in the natural environment. They are a major cause of corrosion in various industrial systems.

These bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide gas as they feed on sulfates. While most city water supplies use chlorine to kill bacteria, it may not be sufficient in some cases. Some local conditions in the pipelines can also support bacterial growth.

The best way is to visit the local water testing lab and get the water checked for the bacterial count. If the bacterial count is high, you need to take professional help to find out the best remedies. You may need to install a special water purification system that can get rid of the SRB. In addition, you can also contact the local authorities to find a solution to the problem.

In case you are away from town for long periods and the water in the heater is kept at a low temperature, bacteria can multiply at a fast rate. Flushing the tank and turning up the heat for at least 24 hours will help in reducing bacterial growth.

Call Our Team for Support

Wisps of foul smell from your water heater can severely affect the quality of your life. Since water heaters are complex systems, it is best that you take professional help to rectify the problem immediately.

If you are looking for the best service for repairing a water heater in Albuquerque, NM, feel free to call First Rate Plumbing Heating and Cooling Inc. Quality work, exuberant service.

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