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Thread: Hot water sulfur smell solutions

  1. #1

    Hot water sulfur smell solutions

    My cottage is on well water. Several years ago we started with the dreaded sulfur smell, hot water only. I had a plumber replace the anode. Smell came back eventually. I found the model of the anode he installed and see that is just aluminum. Seems like the one I need is aluminum/zinc?

    Has anyone had success with the aluminum/zinc ones and is it worth a shot?

    Water heater is 9 years old but only used 7 months. a year. A friend said probably need a new tank.

    I see they have these electric anodes that come highly rated. But pricey.

    Let me know what you have experienced.

    Thanks Ron

  2. #2
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    You may find that the sulphurous odor is generated by a bacteria in the water supply. Changing parts in your water heater isn't going to solve the root issue. The sulphur producing bacterial are not a danger to health but can make for an unpleasant experience, especially at this time of year. Once they get into the hot water system, it's difficult to deal with, but it can be done. We have a chlorine injection system on our well to help deal with it at the source and the chlorine is then removed by a charcoal filtration stage when the water enters the house. When we moved in here, the water conditioning firm that put the system in for the previous owners came out and over a series of visits, we added some chlorine "internally" and then ran ALL the faucets and fixtures for a bit to get that solution out to "all the places", which included outdoor faucets, etc., as well as getting some into the water heater. It took several iterations of this to knock things down and we now only have limited hints of the odor, primarily in the spring. The injection system helps keep it down before the water enters the house. (The previous owners apparently "forgot" to get chlorine into the bin with enough frequency to maintain the injection treatment properly, so our first year year was "interesting")
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    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  3. #3
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    I thought sulfur rods were just pure aluminum.
    We had the problem and could just detect it in the water from the well. Had a Cullligan Rustmaster installed over 25 years ago. It is a fairly simple non-chemical setup. Air gets mixed with water before pressure tank (deep well pump) and then goes to a tank that expels most excess air. The air fluffs up the offending molecules and this is trapped in a media tank which backwashes every 6 days. Works well for out needs.
    Sorry the details are very vague but when the Culligan guy installed the system he flushed the hot water tank. Did something like connect a bottle of bleach(?) to the kitchen faucet upstairs then drained hot water tank. This sucked the bleach back into the tank. Probably let it sit and then flushed it out. My wife says the flushing water was black.
    You might try a flushing first to see if the it is just the collection of gunk over time that is giving you the problem.
    Lots of online info on this topic.

  4. #4
    I set it up now so I can flush not only the tank but most of the hot water lines. I flushed it last season several times and got temporary relief. I believe the problem is compounded by the fact it is an occasional use cottage. The entire system was drained and blown out over the winter.

    Looks like both you and Jim had some disinfectant chemicals applied as well as (No pun intended) a system of some sort applied.
    Last edited by Ron Citerone; 04-28-2024 at 7:25 PM.

  5. #5
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    The well water in my area is very hard and has iron, manganese and sulfur. Initially, I had a system that sprayed water in air in a tank. There it would oxidize the sulfur and iron and be filtered out. Now I have a unit called an air induction filter which does the same. I have a water softener after that unit. Bad water in and great water out !!!!

  6. #6
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    I am following this thread to help myself get educated and wonder what type of well is being discussed? I assume the discussion is about deep, drilled wells?

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Maurice Mcmurry View Post
    I am following this thread to help myself get educated and wonder what type of well is being discussed? I assume the discussion is about deep, drilled wells?
    My well is 440' deep because it is very close to salt water and you need to get to the aquifer that is down deep to avoid the salt water. Until a few years ago I had great hot and cold water. My cold is still completely odorless. My brother had a place down the street and his hot water smelled and he never pursued a solution. I want to try the simple stuff first and may end up with a water solutions company at some point.

  8. #8
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    Google says to increase the water temperature to 160 to kill the bacteria.
    That's not a safe temp. to have, so you may have to temper it some how.
    Confidence: The feeling you experience before you fully understand the situation

  9. #9
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    My well is110 feet deep. The surrounding area has numerous peat bogs.

  10. #10
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    Mine is deep at 425' but the water ingress likely is less deep. I don't think deep or shallow matters but rather the source of the water itself although it may be more likely a problem for wells at some depth but that's speculation.

  11. #11
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    268’ feet deep here but the well on the lot next door is 65’. The iron bacteria is common here; hence, the treatment with chlorine injection. To answer a question asked privately for public benefit, no, there is no chlorine taste as it’s removed by the charcoal filter past the sediment filter.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  12. #12
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    Jim does your charcoal filter back flush periodically? How long does it last?
    Lee Schierer
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  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lee Schierer View Post
    Jim does your charcoal filter back flush periodically? How long does it last?
    I believe i t does as it’s “zero maintenance”, but quite large at about five feet tall with a digital display. The acid neutralizer we had at the old property back flushed, too.
    --

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  14. #14
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    Normally with "Sulphur" water air injection can work or a holding tank that's not pressurized and vents to atmosphere will allow the gas to basically rise to the top. You would need a second pump to pressurize the house plumbing. At least around here you can take a container of the nastiest smelliest Sulphur water and let it set for a couple hours and the smell is gone. A local well driller used an aeration pump on deep wells and it worked well. Line ran down to the pump and apparently the rising air bubbles brought the Sulphur gas with them. Unfortunately you never go what you are going to get with a bored well.

  15. #15
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    Perhaps my solution can help others.

    Our house has a well and for 40 years we tolerated the sulfur smell in our hot water. After I retired 15 years ago I decided to do some research on the problem and how to get rid of it.

    What I found was to replace the standard anode in our hot water tank with a powered anode. Apparently, the technology has been around for many years and is used in many commercial and industrial applications. It eliminated the sulfur smell almost over night for us.

    Our hot water system is essentially a Buderus oil fired boiler that heats hot water and circulates it through a stand alone Buderus hot water holding tank that has a anode in it.

    I had to do some modifications to the Buderus hot water tank because the original anode rod was suspended by a threaded stud from a plate on the top of the tank. But all I had to do was drill a 1" or so hole in the mounting plate have a 3/4" threaded stainless steel pipe coupler welded to the top of the mounting plate and thread the new powered anode in to it. I believe a 3/4" pipe thread is how most standard anode rods install in most stand alone hot water tanks.

    The powered anode that I have is from STOLTCO which I have no affiliation with.

    Hope this helps someone else.

    Thanks

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