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Rotten Egg Smell From Water Heater: Cause and Fix

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Renee in Texas is on the line with a question about cleaning a water heater.

    Welcome, Renee.

    RENEE: I’m going to have to go down to my daughter’s house for about four months. I turned the water heater off because they thought I’d be there through the winter and they didn’t want it to freeze. And they drained it. And when I come back to the house and build it back up, the water stinks.

    TOM: Does it have a sulfur-like smell? Does it smell like rotten eggs?

    RENEE: Yeah.

    TOM: Yeah. OK. So what’s going on is that you need a new anode rod. If you look at the top of the water heater between where the two pipes are, you’ll see what looks like kind of a hex nut, like a big bolt. And right below that is an anode rod. It’s called a “sacrificial anode” and it goes down into your water heater. And the water reacts with it and it takes that odor away, among other things. And so if you have a strong odor, that’s what you have to replace.

    It’s not for the faint of heart. It can be difficult to remove an anode rod, even for an experienced plumber. So, you’re going to have to decide whether you want to go through the trouble of replacing the anode rod or you just want to replace the water heater altogether. This quiz can help you determine whether repairing or replacing your water heater is the best choice.

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