Smell in hot water issues

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Mikey, Feb 20, 2007.

  1. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    I recently installed a solar domestic water heater, which involved removing the old Whirlpool 50 gal electric water heater and replacing it with an 80 gal State tank designed for the solar system. Everything works great, except that the hot water at the kitchen sink stinks.

    I had this problem when I originally installed the Whirlpool tank. Hot water at all fixtures had the rotten-egg, sulfur smell that is usually caused by anerobic bacteria in the water heater. I solved it at that time by treating the system with H2O2 and replacing the magnesium anode rod with aluminum. At that time, the entire house was plumbed with copper beneath the slab.

    Now the problem is back, but only appears at the kitchen sink, which has been re-plumbed with CPVC overhead to bypass an under-slab leak. The 2nd bath is still plumbed with copper under-slab, and the hot water there doesn't smell.

    My question should be obvious -- why does the smell only appear at one fixture? I'm reluctant to blame the CPVC, since everything plumbed with copper stank in the past, but that's the only difference I can think of between the kitchen and the other bath. I should have saved the aluminum anode rod from the old WH, obviously, but forgot about it when I gave it away. A new one should arrive Friday.
  2. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    Does that sink have an overflow?
  3. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    No, it's a large, single-basin stainless-steel sink. The smell is definitely associated with the water as it flows out of the spout, and is much worse than it ever was in the past. Oddly enough, the last time around we first noticed it in the shower. This time, it's undetectable in the shower, but really nasty in the kitchen. WH electric-side setting is about 120, but it gets a LOT hotter at the end of a sunny day.
  4. justin2006

    justin2006 New Member

    Messages:
    7
    Location:
    New Mexico
    Similar problem for me too..

    I have a similar problem at only one fixture - an upstairs sink - only happens at the hot water faucet infrequently (several times a week).

    My house is plumbed with a hot water recirculation system, though I never turn it on.

    Any clues what may cause this for my setup?
  5. ChrisNJ

    ChrisNJ New Member

    Messages:
    24
    Location:
    NJ
    Stank H2O

    WOW! We have the same problem! We have a 40 year old home, all copper, but when the hot h2o is on, u can smell a distinct odor . . . kinda corn chippy. We have well water as well and was wondering if that was part of it. Any ideas of how to treat it?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 25, 2007
  6. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Central Florida
    ChrisNJ -- if it smells everywhere, it's relatively easy to fix. My problem is a little different, in that it only smells in certain fixtures. I'm just going to pretend it smells everywhere and fix it, ignoring for now the thrill of solving a new problem. I just got a new aluminum anode rod off the UPS truck on Friday, so today I'll turn off the hot water, drain a gallon or so from the water heater, remove the old magnesium anode rod (easier said than done, more than likely), pour in a couple quarts of hydrogen peroxide, and put in the new anode rod. This worked the last time, so I expect it will work again. There's a fancier aluminum/zinc/tin rod specially designed for getting rid of smells, but it's kind of pricey and the aluminum rod worked for me. Google "water heater anode rod smell" and you can read all about it.

    Some people recommend superchlorinating the hot water system and flushing it before replacing the anode rod. It's more trouble than the peroxide but does a thorough job of cleaning out the system. I'm hopeful that I won't need to do that.
  7. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    That's where I got mine -- slightly different name, but the same outfit, I think. They come 42" long, which will fit most WHs. If you've got one of the stubby little ones, you'll have to cut it to length. If you've got a good plumbing supply house locally, you might be able to get it there, but the big-box stores will look at you like you're from Mars if you ask for an anode rod. It's not worth it to me to search and drive locally for something I can wait 4 days for. As I remember, I bought my first one from Whirlpool, and it was much more expensive.
  8. kinghan08

    kinghan08 New Member

    Messages:
    3
    solar pump

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  9. Mikey

    Mikey Aspiring Old Fart, EE, computer & networking geek

    Messages:
    2,736
    Location:
    Central Florida
    Belated update

    Mr Han's ping prompts me to let everybody know that replacing the anode rod as described did, in fact, solve the odor-at-the-sink problem, but I'm still mystified as to why it only appeared at the sink. Looks like the post suggesting where to buy anode rods got deleted, but if you Google {odor "anode rod"} you'll get multiple hits.
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