How often have you smelled something terrible coming from your water heater? If it happens too frequently, chances are it’s time to call a plumber. But before you get down on yourself, consider these five things you might be doing wrong.
Imagine waking up to a foul smell every morning. Now imagine never being able to wash away the stench because it’s always there. That’s what some homeowners experience with their water heaters. The problem lies in the way they treat the tank, especially during the winter months.
“You can’t fix stupid”, said Einstein. In other words, don’t blame your problems on someone else or let them get to you. Instead, take action to solve the issue. This applies to plumbing issues as well.
Why does the water heater smell like rotten eggs?
Water heaters are prone to bacteria growth and the smell comes from decaying organic matter that gets into the hot water tank. This decay process is caused by stagnant water sitting in the bottom of the tank where bacteria thrive. To avoid this problem, you can remove any sediment build-up in the bottom of the hot water tank. Make sure you clean the tank regularly to prevent bacteria buildup. A good way to check if the tank needs cleaning is to turn off the water supply and drain the tank completely. Then take a bucket of warm water and pour it into the tank. Check the top of the tank for any signs of mold or discoloration. If you see anything, you should clean the tank immediately.
If your water heater has been running for more than six years, it may need replacing. You can also add an anti-microbial additive to help keep the tank free of bacteria. Adding 1/2 teaspoon per gallon will help reduce odor and kill bacteria.
How do I stop my water heater from smelling like rotten eggs?
If you want to eliminate the bad smell, you’ll need to replace the water heater. It’s not uncommon for older water heaters to leak and cause the smell. Also, if you’re using propane gas, make sure the pilot light is lit at all times. Propane tanks can become corroded over time, which causes leaks.
Here’s the five things to do when water heater smells like rotten eggs:
1) Drain the tank. Turn off the main valve and drain the tank. Remove the cover plate and drain the tank completely (remove the fill tube). Use a garden hose to siphon out the water.
2) Clean the tank. Scrub the inside walls of the tank with a solution of one cup of vinegar and two cups of baking soda mixed together. Rinse thoroughly.
3) Add an anti-bacterial additive. Pour 1/2 teaspoon of an anti-bacterial additive per gallon of water into the tank. Stir until dissolved.
4) Replace the tank. Your local home improvement store carries water heaters made specifically for homes with existing water heaters. They usually cost less than $200.
5) Test the new unit. Run a test cycle to ensure the new unit works properly before turning back on the water.
What about the smell when the water is cold?
The smell often occurs when the water is first turned on after a long period of non-use. This is due to the fact that the tank has been sitting empty for a while. When the water turns on, it cools down quickly and creates condensation inside the tank. The condensation collects in the bottom of the water heater and then evaporates. As the water heats up again, the vapor rises through the tank and produces the foul smell.
To get rid of the smell, simply run the tap for 10 minutes. Afterward, shut off the faucet and let the water sit overnight. In the morning, run the tap again to flush out the remaining condensation.
To avoid this problem, run the water heater for a few hours before switching it on.
Why does my water heater have a funny sound when it starts?
When the water heater is heating up, it makes a loud noise as air bubbles rise to the surface. This happens because there isn’t enough pressure in the system to force the water up through the pipes. In order to fix this issue, you must increase the pressure in the system.
First, turn off the main valve. Next, open the drain valve located near the bottom of the tank. Finally, connect a garden hose to the drain valve and allow the water to flow freely. Wait for the water level to drop slightly. Once the water level drops below the drain valve, close the drain valve. Now, turn the main valve back on.
Is there anything else I should know about fixing a water heater?
Yes! Make sure you don’t leave any hot water running or clogged drains. Hot water running could damage the heater. Also, be careful around electrical outlets. You never know what might happen if you touch them.
Why does my water heater have a strong sulfur smell?
Sulfuric acid is used as a cleaner for pipes. It’s also added to some types of detergents. Sulfuric acid is highly corrosive and can damage metal parts of the water heater.
You can buy a bottle of sulfuric acid at most hardware stores. Follow the directions carefully to use the correct amount of acid. If you’re not familiar with using acids, ask your plumber or other professional for help.
How do I clean my water heater?
If your water heater is dirty, you’ll need to remove all the sediment from the tank. To do so, follow these steps:
1) Turn off the power to the water heater.
2) Remove the cover plate from the top of the tank.
3) Using a stiff brush, scrub the sides of the tank until they are completely clean.
4) Clean the fins on the side of the tank by wiping them with a damp rag.
5) Rinse the tank thoroughly with warm water.
If your water heater has started making a strange odor, it may mean something is wrong with the water heater itself. To prevent further problems, call a professional plumber who will inspect the system and determine whether repairs are necessary.