Do you love the smell of rotten eggs?
That’s not really a question, since the unanimous answer from all homeowners is a loud and definite, “No way!” However, we’ve had a few clients ask us why their water smells like sulfur over the years – and the reason why is somewhat surprising. Luckily, there is an easy fix for the nasty odor, and it’s something you can take care of yourself if you’re handy when it comes to basic water heater maintenance.
Drain the Water Heater
Hydrogen sulfide is naturally present in some water sources. That’s just a fact. You might notice the smell only when you first turn the water on, or especially in one area of the home like the bathroom or shower. The first thing you should do is drain the water heater. Realistically, you should be doing this on an annual basis anyway, and draining the water heater will certainly do no harm. Some of our customers have told us that draining their water heater on a monthly basis (not all the way, but maybe 10 gallons each time) has helped to keep the water from smelling like sulfur.
Check the Magnesium Corrosion Control Rod
If draining your water heater didn’t help, then changing the magnesium corrosion control rod definitely will. It takes a bit more handywork to replace, but it’s a surefire way to remove the rotten sulfur smell from your water. The actual cause of your smelly sulfur water is a reaction between bacteria present in the water with the magnesium and aluminium anode rod in your water heater, together creating hydrogen sulfide gas. You can replace your water heater’s magnesium anode rod with an aluminium/zinc anode rod for a permanent fix.
For Those with Softened Water
The trick of replacing the magnesium corrosion control rod won’t work if you have softened water. The science behind it is a little bit dry (essentially, softened water promotes production of hydrogen sulfide gas, aka “the smelly stuff”), but luckily there’s an easy fix to this issue, too. A powered anode rod will solve the issue of your water smelling like sulfur if you have softened water in your water heater.
If you’ve suffered from water smelling like sulfur, try following the steps above to see if your smelly water issue is fixed. If you feel uncomfortable performing any of the above steps, call your local plumber for help.