Hot Water Heater Smells Like Sulfur



If you’ve recently replaced your water heater, and now your water smells like sulfur, this story is for you. We replaced a gas hot water heater in 2019 with a Rheem electric hybrid heat pump water heater.

The smell was only in hot water and became worse as time went on.  Something had to be done. After doing some research, it turns out to be hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S) and pretty standard in homes with well water.

Sacrificial Anode  Rods in Hot Water Heaters

Water heaters have been designed to prevent this by using a sacrificial anode rod.  The anode rods work by giving up their electrons more quickly than the steel tank.  Called “active metal,” that is usually magnesium.

Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria

SRBs eat the sulfate (SO4), a mineral found naturally in groundwater, and transform it into H2S. They’re ancient creatures that have been around since Earth’s atmosphere was devoid of oxygen.

Incomplete Solutions

If smells are also present in the cold water side of your system, the issue could be with the water source, treatment system, or your plumbing. It is good to have the water you drink tested frequently(EPA) to identify a range of contaminants, mainly when you depend on an underground well or another private water source.

Powered Anode-Rods

A powered anode rod is one of the best solutions to get rid of the hot water heater egg smell. These come with a tiny titanium anode that is non-sacrificial and attaches to the water heater to replace the sacrificial anode rod.

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