The smell of rotten eggs from hot water is a surprisingly common problem across the U.S. It is a natural phenomenon caused by the water heater simply doing what it’s supposed to.
There are multiple reasons we might smell rotten eggs in our house. Pinpointing the source of the issue can be the hardest part. We can work to get rid of it of the sulfur smell once we have narrowed down the location that it is coming from.
The most common location of the awful sulfur smell is found in the hot water heater tank. We will now explain the cause behind this and tell you how to get rid of it once and for all.
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What Causes A Water Heater To Smell Like Rotten Eggs?
The smell of rotten eggs coming from a water heater is a common occurrence so we can narrow it down to one of two things.
- Sulfur bacteria
- Magnesium anode rod
There are sulfur and sulfur bacteria inside all water heaters. The sulfur bacteria eat away at the sulfur inside the water heater tank. Some water sources contain more than others, especially hard water with iron bacteria from wells.
When the sulfur bacteria feed, it leaves a gas behind as waste. This hydrogen sulfide gas immediately dissolves back into the water. The hydrogen sulfide gas dissolving in the water is the most common cause for a water heater to smell like rotten eggs.
While this smell can seem dangerous, we assure you it’s safe.
Another common cause for a water heater to smell like rotten eggs is the magnesium anode rod. Every water heater comes with a factory installed anode rod. These anode rods help prevent rust and corrosion from building inside our water heater tank.
The water in our hot water tank already has a high level of magnesium in it. Unfortunately, some cheaper anode rods get manufactured with low-grade metals, like aluminum. These metals are also high in magnesium.
This causes them to deteriorate faster, and hydrogen sulfides love to react with magnesium.
Anode rods are necessary for the preservation of your water heater tank but can produce some unintended consequences, such as the smell we discussed and cloudy water.
However, the hydrogen sulfites in the water reacting with high magnesium content in cheap anode rods can cause a water heater to smell like rotten eggs.
Aluminum anode rods can deteriorate fast in our water heater tanks, adding to the sediment and bacteria buildup. You can read more about using aluminum vs magnesium rods here.
The best way we can resolve the rotten egg smell in our water, meaning the sulfur smell, is to address the anode rod. Some people recommend you simply cut off the rod altogether, but this isn’t recommended.
We change one problem for another if we remove the anode rod entirely. Instead of having rotten egg-smelling water, we’ll have a rusted-out water tank, not to mention less safe drinking water. It’s better to replace it with a superior option.
So How Do You Fix the Rotten Egg Smell in the Water Heater?
You have two options.
- Change out the anode rod made from another material, such as zinc. You can the best anode by water type.
- Upgrade to a powered anode. This will cost a bit more upfront but is well worth it. We have used this one ourselves, and it worked great! The smell was gone within one hour.
No matter what’s causing the stinky egg smell in our hot water tank, the new upgraded powered anode will eliminate the problem in hours.
Is It Normal If My Hot Water Smells Like Sulfur?
It’s common for people with hard water to smell a rotten egg stink in the shower or while hot water is leaving faucets.
You’re probably wondering, “Is it normal if my hot water smells like sulfur?” The answer is surprising, yes. It’s the sign of a problem but is quite common.
The odor problem is a terrible smell that can seem almost dangerous, but it’s a typical problem for water heaters.
There are a lot of chemical reactions taking place in a confined area inside every electric and gas water heater tank. In any tank, the sulfuric bacteria eating away at the sulfur can often smell like rotten eggs.
To be sure that it’s the water heater, we can check the cold water supply side of our plumbing. We can be sure that the water heater is the source of the problem when we will only notice the rotten egg smell from the hot water side.
The anode rod inside our tank could cause the egg smell in the water. Regardless of the cause of the problem, replacing our cheap anode rod with a new powered anode can help rid of the rotten egg smell in our hot water in a matter of hours.
Do you know? Replacing our cheap anodes with a new powered anode rod in our water heater can fix the rotten egg smell within hours and even work as a more permanent solution.
Is It Dangerous If Hot Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs?
The smell of rotten eggs in our water heater has become somewhat of an epidemic across North America. The answer should be simple if so many people have the same problem.
Unfortunately, our water heaters are playgrounds for anaerobic bacteria and other mineral contaminants. The industry has done its best to keep the stinky egg smell out of our homes and tap water supply.
Some people might even remove their anode rods altogether. Removing the anode rod will create corrosion and rust inside our tank affecting drinking water quality. It will also lead to your water heater leaking from the bottom.
How Do You Get Rid Of The Rotten Egg Smell In Hot Water?
There are many DIY ways to eliminate the rotten egg smell in a hot water tank. The most common is by using hydrogen peroxide. Flushing our hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide is a cheap alternative to the more expensive hot water sulfur eliminator kits.
Flushing our hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide can be cheap and effective but won’t last long.
To get rid of the rotten egg smell from our water fast and long-term, we recommend upgrading to this powered anode option mentioned in the video.
The new powered anode is the best solution for removing the rotten egg odor and is backed with tons of good reviews.
A Common Myth: Adding water filtration or a water softener will often not resolve the egg smell in water. This is not only a costly remedy, but the smell will likely persist if it’s being caused by a sulfur bacterium.
By the way, you should always have an independent water test conducted on not rely solely on the test from the company selling the solution, such as Culligan water.
AIf we ever need to replace the water heater, we may want to get a professional’s opinion first.
FAQs On Hot Water Smelling Bad
Can I shower if my water smells like rotten eggs?
The rotten egg smell in our hot water is harmless. It may seem deadly and almost like a waste of time showering in such a stink, but the stench poses no health risks in any way.
Is it safe to drink water from the tap that smells?
Hydrogen sulfate gas is only dangerous at extremely high levels, and in gas form. The smell of rotten eggs mixed with our drinking water should have no ill effects on our health.
Is it normal for my hot water to smell like rotten eggs?
Water heaters commonly produce the smell of rotten eggs. Due to the number of chemical reactions that take place in such a confined area, the smell of sulfur, or rotten eggs, in our hot water is a common problem across America.
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