Why does my Hot Water Heater Smell like Rotten Eggs?
Does your hot water heater smell like rotten eggs? If yes, then you are not alone as millions of others around the world have the same unpleasant experience. What you smell and liken to that of rotten eggs is basically a gas known as hydrogen sulfide. Anaerobic bacteria in water can get mixed with the magnesium, aluminum and sulfur in your heater. This leads to the formation of hydrogen sulfide.
Hydrogen sulfide is not a harmful gas. It can cause some reactions if the concentration is substantial. Most homes or even commercial properties have reasonable traces of the gas in the hot water. However, this does not imply you must let it be and not take any action. In any case the spell is far too much to bear. It is almost repulsive. Three major elements play a role in this whole process. The sulfur and bacteria found in water react with the electrons in the rod of the water heater, thereby mixing with aluminum and magnesium. Sulfate ions in the water become sulfides when they gain negative charges due to the reduction reaction. The bacteria in this case are not pathogenic. They are simply sulfate reducing bacteria that facilitate or expedite the process of formation of sulfides.
It is possible that hydrogen sulfide is present in groundwater that serves as your source. Shallow wells may be contaminated. Hydrogen sulfide may find its way into the system of distribution. Water heaters may also have hydrogen sulfide buildup in due course of time. Lack of cleaning and maintenance could increase the organic matter inside the water heater, thereby further helping the process of hydrogen sulfide formation.
There are effective remedies when your hot water heater smells like rotten eggs. You can get rid of the magnesium anode. You can chlorinate the water to kill the sulfate reducing bacteria. You can heat up the system beyond a hundred and forty degrees, which you must not use but it will kill the bacteria. You can then allow the water to be flushed out or just cool down before you drain some of it and resume use. You can use drain all the water stored in the heater. Use hydrogen peroxide to cleanse the heater and kill the bacteria. You can use one cup of hydrogen peroxide per ten gallons of capacity, i.e. four cups for a water heater with a capacity of forty gallons. Allow cold water to flow into the heater, let the system sit for many hours and then resume use.