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Water Heater Odor: How to Fix Bad Smell

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: William in Maryland, welcome to The Money Pit. So William, my note about your call says that your hot water heater stinks. Does it stink literally or does it just not work well?

    WILLIAM: Well, it works just fine. The problem I have ever since we had some flooding in the area, I have a water pump – sump pump. I don’t have city water. We had a flood in the area and all the water started smelling funky. So I changed the water filter for the pump on my well. And the rest of the water smells fine but I can’t get rid of that smell from the water heater.

    TOM: William, there’s two reasons that your water heater water may be smelling. It usually has to do with bacteria in the water. And you can disinfect the water heater with a bleach solution. It’s quite an involved process and probably one that I would recommend you have a plumber do because it involves …

    LESLIE: Yeah, because it needs to be done to your county’s health department codes.

    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: Especially since you’re in a well water situation. You want to make sure that you’re not, you know, polluting any of your drinking water, essentially.

    TOM: Right. And the second thing that you could do is you could consider replacing the anode rod, which is actually part of the water heater that helps prevent corrosion, or removing it altogether. Sometimes you get a reaction between the anode rod and the bacteria in the water that makes it smell really bad. If you remove the anode rod you probably will shorten the life of the water heater somewhat.

    LESLIE: And you might negate the warranty on the water heater also.

    TOM: Yeah, especially if it’s a newer one. If you want a step in between, you could replace the anode rod with a zinc anode rod which gives off electricians than the magnesium rods typically offer and that can reduce the smell as well. So those are a couple of things that you could do to deal with this odor issue if you’re sure it’s coming just from the water heater and not from the cold water as well.

    LESLIE: Yeah. If that’s only on the hot.

    TOM: Then that will be the place to go.

    Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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