Sulfur Smells and Your Water Heater

Do you have the unpleasant sulfur smell of rotten eggs coming from your faucets? There are several sources of the problem, which isn’t harmful. Here’s how to locate the cause and eliminate the smell.

Sulfur Smells and Your Water Heater

One Faucet

If the sulfur smell comes from a little-used fixture, it may be caused by a dry trap. Usually, the U-shaped bend under the shower, tub, or sink contains some water, which prevents sewer gases from entering your home. When the fixture isn’t used, that water can evaporate. Solve the problem by running the water.

Hot and Cold Water

If both your cold and hot water smell and you have well water, there may be hydrogen sulfide in your groundwater. If confirmed by a water-testing kit, the testing lab may also provide instructions for treating your well with hypochlorite periodically. Carbon filters on your faucets can also reduce the smell, or Signature Plumbing can install a reverse osmosis unit to remove the gas from your water.

If both hot and cold smell and you have city water, try flushing your pipes with hydrogen peroxide to remove bacteria producing the sulfur smell. If the problem isn’t solved, you may want to replace old iron pipes with copper piping.

Only Hot Water

If you notice the sulfur smell only in hot water, bacteria may be reacting with the anode rod inside the water heater. Well water or water softener increases the risk of this problem. To sanitize the water heater:

  • Turn off the water heater (electric) or turn the control to pilot (gas).
  • Shut off the cold water.
  • Open the TPR valve.
  • Drain some of the water to below the TPR valve by running hot water in a sink.
  • Close the TPR valve.
  • Disconnect the hot water hose.
  • Using a funnel, add 1 to 2 pints of 3% hydrogen peroxide into the hot water outlet pipe opening.
  • Reconnect the hose.
  • Turn the water back on, and refill the tank.
  • After several hours, turn on the faucets to flush the tank.
  • Allow the tank to refill, then turn the power back on.

We can perform this process for you, especially if your water heater is older or gas. If the problem returns, we can replace the magnesium anode with an aluminum/zinc anode or install a different style of water heater. Contact us and we’re happy to help.