Sulpher Egg Smell from new Carbon Tank System?!?!?!?!

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, problems, installation and r' started by Gestetner, Sep 21, 2012.

  1. Gestetner

    Gestetner New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    SoCal
    I found this forum recently while educating myself prior to getting a new water softening system. I found a lot of really useful information. I haven't had the new softener installed but have run into a baffling problem with a new carbon tank system.

    I just had a whole house carbon tank system installed last night. 4 cu.ft of GAC in a tank with a Fleck 7000XTR valve (all new equipment). I am on muni water in Orange County, CA. I've NEVER had any odor issues with my water before other than the typical chlorine smell of municipal water. House is 11 years old, 4.5 baths, master jacuzzi tub with 15 GPM flow rate, etc. I wanted the carbon tank to get rid of the pervasive chlorine smell (water district uses chloramines). (I have hard water, tested between 15-26 GPG hardness and TDS of 467.) I previously had a national brand combination of carbon and softening resin in a single tank--I never had problems with odor.

    The new carbon tank was backwashed twice and then placed into service. The water in the house now has a really strong sulphur/rotten egg smell. The chlorine smell is gone but the sulphur/egg smell is nasty. The odor is definitely not coming from the drain--I filled cups with water and smelled them like glasses of wine. It's the water.

    I didn't smell it as much on the hot line. It's really strong on the cold line. I tested it at multiple taps. I ran the water for a really long time to flush the lines. It didn't go away over night. I grabbed a few cups of water from a bib prior to the tank system and there was no such odor coming from the muni supply.

    Today, I bypassed the carbon tank. I ran the cold lines to flush them. The sulphur/egg smell went away and the cold water now smells like chlorine again.

    The installer says that he's never heard of a carbon system causing odor and he says it cannot be the cause. Based on the fact that I've never had this odor before, it appeared immediately after placing the carbon tank online, and it disappeared when I bypassed the carbon tank, it looks to me that the carbon tank is involved somehow.

    The only other change was that I did my annual hot water heater draining yesterday (gas water heater) before placing the carbon tank online. But as noted above, I'm getting the strongest smells on the cold water lines (including dedicated/non mixer cold lines) and the smell dissipated on the cold line when I bypassed the carbon tank today.

    I tried to do some research and only found articles about getting rid of such smells in the water supply, like hydrogen sulfide in well water. I found nothing about my situation.

    Does anybody have an idea about what's going on here?

    Thanks.
  2. Tom Sawyer

    Tom Sawyer In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,175
    Location:
    Maine
    Try backwashing the GAC a couple of times back to back and run the faucets for 15 minutes or so.
  3. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,836
    Location:
    Ontario California
    The smell you are referring to is common in the higher grade Carbons. it is likely bituminous coal based. The smell will go away within a week or so. I would recommend pushing the regeneration button on your 7000SXT for 10 seconds, when you see it show a BW and it starts counting down, unplug the system. Let it run to the drain (or the lawn if you dont want to waste the water) for an hour, then plug the unit back in. It will then finish counting down and finish the flush cycle. This will help with the odor issue. Please see the startup sheet we ship with GAC units, this should help.

    FYI, my own system had the exact same problem for the first couple of days. The proper startup procedure for carbon is to let is soak in water for 72 hours, then perform an aggressive and long flush in the backwash position. This is not really feasible in many applications so a few extra backwashes can lessen this long start up procedure. 7000startupgac.jpg
  4. Gestetner

    Gestetner New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    SoCal
    Thank you very much for the prompt replies. Last night the installer ran the regen cycle on the tank once, which is a 10 minute backwash followed by a 10 minute "Rapid Rinse" cycle. I ran it a second time last night after he left. After noticing the egg smell, I ran it a third time last night, to no effect.

    I just drained all of the water in the house, hot and cold, while bypassing the carbon tank. Confirmed that the smell is coming from the carbon tank. There is a hose bib on the isolated plumbing from the carbon tank (it was for soft water on my old system). With the unit bypassed, I got glass after glass of water from the isolated carbon tank hose bib. Every glass stunk of sulphur/rotten eggs. The muni water is odor free.

    Yes, I believe that the carbon is from coal. I do not believe that it was coconut carbon but I will confirm. The installer had black pails of carbon with white 3M labels, but I didn't look any closer at them. I will confirm with him, though.

    Assuming it must be the coal-based carbon, I am relieved to hear that it will dissipate in a few weeks. I will let it sit isolated for 72 hours. Since I have a plumbing bypass, it can sit for as long as I want at this point. I will also ask the installer to do the flushing steps dittohead referenced above.

    Thanks!
  5. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    No, the muni water has an odor of chlorine/chloramines.

    Or have him replace the anthracite carbon with coconut shell which IMO he should have be using to remove chlorine/chloramines. Or if he ordered coconut and received coal his supplier screwed up.
  6. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,836
    Location:
    Ontario California
    Re: the coconut vs coal based, both have their advantages and disadvantages. I would assume that since yours has a sulfur like odor, it is a highly catalytic type of carbon, probably Carbsorb or similar. Coconut carbon makes for an easier start up on a carbon tank, but unless it is of the catalytic type, the flow rate wil lbe limited for Chloramine removal. Your carbon is fine and the smell will go away fairly quickly. I would not have the company replace the GAC, but he should understand the proper start up procedures of that specific carbon to eliminate these problems in the future. If he is using the same carbon I am, fairly likely, their is no better carbon available. Many of our customers will also blend Coal and Coconut to save a few dollars (coconut is less expensive this week), and for marketing purposes.

    You will be fine, just rinse it a lot. The smell will subside.
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    The flow rate is limited for all types of carbon.

    No better carbon (for chloramines?) based on what?
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
  8. ditttohead

    ditttohead Water systems designer, R&D

    Messages:
    1,836
    Location:
    Ontario California
    albert-einstein-trolls.jpg

    Maybe years of inhouse testing and data collection,
  9. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Then let's see the data.

    And please tell us why it would take you years to develop data on chlorine/chloramine removal. Or are you tweaking the tests until the data supports your claim?

    Hopefully the data matches what you say in this thread;
    http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?48506-H2S-carbon-and-air-input-needed

    Personally I'm thinking you just like to disagree with me, and support your up selling catalytic carbon to your dealers while stroking your ego here.
  10. Gestetner

    Gestetner New Member

    Messages:
    4
    Location:
    SoCal
    Hey guys. I will have to adjust my forum settings since I didn't get any emails that there were new replies over the weekend.

    I let it soak over the weekend, using the plumbing bypass so it's not entering my water supply. I triggered a few more 10 minute backwashes (that's what it's set for right now). Still smells like sulfur. Haven't done a long backwash yet and am holding off on doing so until the installer addresses the issue below.

    I spoke to the installer. He told me that he used acid washed coconut shell. He said that he used two kinds but that the majority was 3M brand. That's all I was able to find out thus far. He has not heard from the carbon company yet. He did hear from the "manufacturer" (he didn't specify who that might be so I don't know). The latter suggested to him that he needs to change the DLFC. Apparently he didn't account for the fact that it's being used on a 16" tank and the thought is that it isn't getting enough oomph in the backwash to raise the bed.

    He's coming today later in the afternoon so I'll know more then.

    And I appreciate all of your opinions, even if you disagree. I like more info then less. :)

    Thanks.
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