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What’s Causing Rotten Egg Smell From Hot Water Faucet?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Going out to California where Marlene has got a question about a rotten-egg smell in the bath. What’s going on?

    MARLENE: In our master-bathroom shower, when you turn on the hot-water faucet, it smells like rotten eggs. It’s really awful. And this lasts for several minutes and then it’ll go away. We have, oh, six other hot-water faucets in the house, including a shower, and none of these faucets do this. And so we were wondering, should we call a plumber? Would a plumber know what to do to change this?

    TOM: Marlene, that odor usually stems from your water heater. Even though you’re only smelling it in those couple of bathrooms, I suspect the odor could be forming in your water heater. That sort of rotten-egg or sulfur smell is actually caused by a bacteria in the water. And it’s reacting to the deterioration of the sacrificial anode, which is inside a water heater. It’s usually made of magnesium or aluminum and it will react with that and cause that odor.

    So, one of the solutions is to replace that anode. And if you look at the top of the water heater, it looks like there’s a bolt sort of stuck into the top of the water heater? That’s the anode there. And if you pull that anode out and replace it, even with one – a better bet is one that’s made of zinc. There’s a type of anode called “zinc alloy.” That will stop that odor from happening.

    MARLENE: Oh, OK.

    TOM: It’s probably best to have a plumber do that, yeah. But if you call a plumber about this rotten-egg odor and tell him to look at your anode, I think you might find the solution right there.

    MARLENE: That’d be wonderful.

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