Rotten smells in your hot water indicate the presence of sulphide gases that are produced by bacteria or chemical reactions in your water heater. Most water heaters have magnesium anode rods which prevent corrosion of metal parts. When the magnesium rods react with some chemicals in the water, they release unpleasant gases. If you're experiencing this problem, here are a few solutions to help you fix the water heater and get rid of the odours.
Clean the Water Tank with Hydrogen Peroxide
The presence of sulphur bacteria in your hot water tank may be a common cause of rotten smells in the water. These bacteria thrive in oxygen-deficient areas such as plumbing systems, and they feed on the anode residue. Hydrogen peroxide is an effective chemical that kills sulphur bacteria while getting rid of the smell in your tank. Here are steps on how to use it in your water heater:
- Buy hydrogen peroxide from your local store
- Turn off the water heater and close the inlet valve
- Drain the tank to leave only around 40 gallons of water
- Pour 500ml of hydrogen peroxide in the water tank and leave it for two to three hours
- Open the hot water faucets to allow the hydrogen peroxide to clean the pipes
- Drain the tank and reopen the inlet valve
Cleaning your hot water tank with hydrogen peroxide may sound easy, but it can be a challenging project. Don't hesitate to contact a plumber if you need professional assistance.
Replace the Magnesium Anode
The magnesium anode rod in your water tank is the primary cause of rotten smells in the water. The sacrificial property of the rod causes it to wear away, leaving a residue that attracts sulphur bacteria. Thus, you can get rid of the smell by removing the anode. Unfortunately, getting rid of it exposes the metal components in your tank to corrosion. Another great option would be to use a different anode such as aluminium.
Aluminium anodes tend to last longer than magnesium. However, they leave a sticky residue that sinks at the bottom of the tank and can end up in your hot water pipes. If the residue finds its way in your pipes, it can cause a blockage. Thus, if you use aluminium anodes, you need to drain and clean the tank regularly.
Install a Non-Sacrificial Anode Rod
No matter which metal you use, sacrificial anodes always wear and cause problems in your tank. A great alternative is a non-sacrificial, imposed-current anode. Unlike magnesium and aluminium rods, these anodes are made from insoluble mixed metal oxide (MMO) titanium alloy. They generate a low-voltage current that polarises the tank and protects components against corrosion. Since there is no chemical reaction between the anode and the water, there are no sulphur gases in your hot water.
Contact a plumber for a professional anode replacement and hot water repair services.