Ask the energy advisor

What's that smell?

Posted on Jan 07 2020 in LaGrange County REMC
Energy Advisor

Nothing’s better than preparing for a hot shower, with your loofa and shower cap in hand, only to absentmindedly walk into an odorous wall of rotten egg smell. Right?

Let’s be real: of course not. There are a lot of better smells. 

Nearly everyone who gets their water from a well knows about and has dealt with the rotten egg odor they get when they run the hot water. 

What they might not know is why. 

The smell is caused by the reaction of hydrogen sulfide — a harmless and naturally occurring gas ­— with the magnesium anode in the water heater. The smell is amplified when the water is heated. 

The old standby remedy is to cut the anode rod or remove it completely. DO NOT DO THIS. It will void your warranty and cause your tank to fail prematurely. There are good alternatives to fixing the rotten egg smell. 

One remedy is to replace the anode with an aluminum or aluminum/zinc anode. The hydrogen sulfide doesn’t react with those elements the way it does with magnesium. 

Another alternative is to replace the current anode with an electric anode. This will use electricity, costing a little money each month of operation, but will get rid of the odor.

Water filtration can have a decent impact on the smell of your water, so you should be diligent in changing the filters. Carbon-based filters will go a long way in reducing taste and smell but won’t have much of an impact if you have high levels of iron or manganese, which causes rust stains. 

Before you go spending a lot of money to solve the problem or attempt to take matters into your own hands and cut your anode, give me a call, and we can discuss solutions.

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