Re: sulfur smelling hot water
Posted by Gary Slusser on April 20, 2003 at 13:30:12:
In response to Re: sulfur smelling hot water
: Please help.... we moved into a brand new home in Jan of this year. We drilled a well, the water was very hard and contained a fair amount of iron. We installed a water softner/iron filter. Soon after we had a very strong sulfur smell. We were told to replace the anode in the water heater to a aluminum one which we did one week ago and now the smell has returned. Is there anything else we can do. I know that complete removal of the anode could solve the problem but I also know it will void the warranty on our water heater and shorten its life.

: Please help
: Thank you

: Rebecca Roy

When you have a hot water only 'sulfur' odor the cause is a reducing type of bacteria like sulfate, manganese or iron (SRB, MRB or IRB) reacting with the magesium anode rod and they produce 'sulfur' odor. So if you don't want to remove the anode rod then you'll have to replace it with aluminum or kill the bacteria prior to them getting into the heater where they thrive. Removing the original rod may have caused some of it to fall into the bottom of the tank which acts like the original is still there. Sanitizing the heater with bleach can stop that although it may require repeating. You should drain and then flush the heater to remove as much of the fallen pieces from the heater. Do that before you use bleach and repeat it after you sue bleach the first time. You flush until you get no more dirt, dirty warter etc. out of the tank as the last of the water exits the drin valve.

Problem is you already have paid for your water treatment equipment and none of it kills bacteria. There is no absolute test to show that any given water will produce a hot water only odor and actually it is more a effect of the water heater.

You could have used ozone, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine to oxodize the iron and kill bacteria. Also, AL rods don't guarantee no return of the odor but usually do stop it. So does adding some bleach to the heater from time to time. The simplest plan of action is to raise the temperature to 140 F, that kills the bacteria.

Most iron filters remove H2S (sulfur) odor from water but Birm based iron filters will not and the H2S will eventually ruin Birm. Birm is a mineral used in some iron filters. Bacteria go through all iron filters and softeners and will colonize most types of carbon if it alone is used to remove H2S that is not naturally occuring (in the well water without reducing type bacteria).


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