15 May

Water Heater Smells And How To Fix Them

If your hot water is giving off a sulfur, rotten egg smell, guess what? You have a problem. Water heater smells can be a sign that your anode tube needs some attention. What’s an anode tube? Read on.

Water Heater Smells Culprit Number One: Anaerobic Bacteria.

Anaerobic bacteria, in a nutshell, is bacteria that can live without oxygen. Medically speaking, in humans anaerobic bacteria plays a role in the gastrointestinal tract, and is associated with illnesses such as diverticulitis and appendicitis. 

Water Heater Smells Culprit Number Two: Hydrogen Sulfide Gas.

Hydrogen sulfide gas, or H2S, is formed in water heaters by creating a warm environment for these anaerobic bacteria to grow. A magnesium anode rod, while protecting the metal tank from corrosion, also supplies electrons that sustain the sulfur-to hydrogen sulfide gas reaction. So, if you have stinky hot water, look at what’s happening with your anode rod. 

The Fix:

  1. Flush your system. Give your water heater a good, old-fashioned draining. This is something that really should be done once a year. Draining your water heater will make sure that you are getting the “old” stinky water out, and starting fresh. Don’t worry! If you don’t know how to do this, we explain it all for you in regular people terms here. This is a good weekend project. It doesn’t take too long, but can really make a difference in the life of your water heater. 
  2. Replacing the magnesium anode rod with an aluminum-zinc rod will help get rid of your water heater smells. While this can be a DIY project, we strongly recommend that you call us first and discuss what this may mean for your warranty if you purchased your water heater from Casey’s Plumbing. We can help you make the decision as to what type of anode rod you need, and IF you need it. An aluminum-zinc rod can do a long way toward eliminating the water heater smells you are experiencing, but a magnesium rod may protect your tank better. LET US HELP YOU!
  3. For a step-by-step walkthrough of how to replace your anode rod, we really appreciate The Family Handyman’s explanation. But, we are here to help. Give us a call, even on the weekend, and we can help you through it!




About Karen Mares

A Portlander born and raised, Karen lives in Southwest Portland with her husband and children. Karen has kept journals throughout her life, and she began her personal blog, Random Thoughts From A Suburban Mom in 2007. She hasn't stopped writing online since, channeling her passion for words and information into writing and communicating through social media and blogging.