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Old 06-09-2013, 11:10 PM   #1
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Rotten Egg Smell from the Hot Water

Pulled into an RV Park today and hooked up to the water. Went inside to run some water to remove air before turning on the Water Heater and when I turned on the Hot Water got a Rotten Egg Smell that was over powering. REALLY Strong!
After running water for a while with both vent fans running, it started to clear up. Turned on the Heater and after it reached temperature, seemed to get better. DW is convinced it still smells but I can't smell anything.
Any thoughts on what might cause this? Last time out was the first this spring about 3 weeks ago. I flushed the heater with cold water and installed a new anode rod. We were out for four days and then parked until today.
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Old 06-09-2013, 11:25 PM   #2
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I'd bet on bad water from the last park sitting too long in the heater.
You mentioned a new anode rod , have you ever used / checked the 110v element? The element can attract as much crud as the anode rod.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:12 AM   #3
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I'd bet on bad water from the last park sitting too long in the heater.
You mentioned a new anode rod , have you ever used / checked the 110v element? The element can attract as much crud as the anode rod.
That is going to be my next step removing the element. Thanks for the tip.

Some days a person should not leave home.
After our last trip, I called my insurance company about cracks in my windshields. They assigned a claim # and told me to call a glass shop to arrange to have the new windshields installed.
Well, they had to order them so asked for the Make/model, VIN, pictures for the insurance co. Coach was parked in a storage lot.
So, I gave them all the data they asked for and a bunch of photos. Among the pics were shots of the DOT numbers on the windshields for added information. Just thought it might be a good idea.
Also informed them that we are moving out of province on the 12th and want to get these wrapped up before we leave.
Well, a week or so later the shop calls to say they have the new glass and I can bring the coach in for replacements.
I bring the coach in from the storage lot and they tell me it will be ready the next morning. An hour later they call to tell me they have the wrong windshields. They ordered for a gas and mine is diesel.
Question, if there was a choice when you ordered and were not sure, would you not call me to confirm?
OK, so now the right ones have to be ordered and will take another 10 days. Again I stress that we will be parking the coach in an RV Park before we move so it is Imperative they be installed before the 9th. No problem, we will put a rush on them.
So, true to their word, the correct windshields arrive on Wednesday and I take the coach in on Thursday and told it will be ready on Friday morning around 9:00 AM. About 8:30 I get a call saying the windshields are in and look good but there is a problem.
While backing the coach out of their shop, the fellow backed into a concrete pillar and crunched the Left Rear corner and caved in the Ladder. Great.
They were VERY apologetic of course and agreed to cover the cost of repair but, because we are moving, we cannot get it repaired until we get settled into our new home.
So I guess we are committed to driving a banged up coach and every where we go people will look and say "look at that old fool, you would think he would learn how to back up properly".
Now to top it off we got Rotten Eggs in the Water.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:18 AM   #4
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And to think that I thought I had it bad, with only the weather to complain about.
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:35 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by dennis45 View Post
Pulled into an RV Park today and hooked up to the water. Went inside to run some water to remove air before turning on the Water Heater and when I turned on the Hot Water got a Rotten Egg Smell that was over powering. REALLY Strong!
We got the same smell from our hot water tank in the Class-C but never in the TT. We also flushed the fresh water tank (twice) and HW tank (twice) and the smell was finally gone. But the water comes out of the HW tap almost foamy. As though under unusual pressure. The cold water is normal. We don't know what to make of it as all tanks are clean and flushed more than once. I hope someone has the answer.......
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Old 06-10-2013, 12:45 AM   #6
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. But the water comes out of the HW tap almost foamy.
You would have to pull the anode rod if you have one , and the electric element . Good chance that mineral build up on the element is dissolving back into the hot water system, also check all your tap screens for " stuff " stuck in there.
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Old 06-10-2013, 06:03 AM   #7
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The Anode rod when breakdown happens will jell and set on bottom of tank and warm weather will add to it. The electric heater element causing it have not heard of that situation.
The tank needs to be flushed and bottom of tank cleaned with water wand and the water system along with the heater needs to be sanitized before the smelly water imbeds itself in water system.
If the jell gets into water system it will plug the faucet filters and water filters if you have them for faucets or ice maker.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:26 AM   #8
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The rotten egg smell can also happen if you have filled with well water (which is likely in a park). There is a harmless bacteria that can get into well water, which LOVES to grow on anode rods. They give off sulphur as a waste gas, thus the rotten egg smell. If you happen to have filled up in gas well country, it's also possible that there's just sulphur in the water. Heat will release the sulphur, thus you'll notice it more on the hot water than cold.
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Old 06-10-2013, 07:51 AM   #9
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Anode rod is going bad. Drain tank then replace the rod and rinse out the water heater. You will be surprised how much debris has accumulated on the bottom of the tank. Use a smaller diameter hose to put up inside the tank to wash the crud out. The anode dissolves in order to save your tank
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Old 06-10-2013, 08:00 AM   #10
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The Anode rod when breakdown happens will jell and set on bottom of tank and warm weather will add to it. The electric heater element causing it have not heard of that situation.
The tank needs to be flushed and bottom of tank cleaned with water wand and the water system along with the heater needs to be sanitized before the smelly water imbeds itself in water system.
If the jell gets into water system it will plug the faucet filters and water filters if you have them for faucets or ice maker.
I agree with 007. The jell gunk can also form in your water tank and plug the inline screen filter on your water pump. We just did our bi-annual cleaning of the water system using bleach and white vinegar and found the usual gunk in various places. The well water comment by others could be a good possibility also. Flush the wh tank with the type of wand mentioned and the amount of sediment in the bottom might surprise you.

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Old 06-10-2013, 08:10 AM   #11
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A rotten egg smell from hot water is a harmless bacteria in the heater tank. It thrives in warm water and excretes hydrogen sulfide, which makes the odor. Drain, flush and sanitize your RV's water system and all will be well. Sometimes you can get away with just flushing the heater tank, but odds are by now that the bacteria are scattered through the hot water piping and you will need to sanitize the whole system to prevent an early return of the problem.
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Old 06-10-2013, 11:29 AM   #12
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There are two things that cause the rotten egg smell. Sulfur and iron. Neither are harmful but you may have to hold your nose to drink it. 2 years ago we had to have a new well drilled an the waterv in a glass was a light brown and smelled. we had a filtering system put in. The color was good but still smelled. A water "expert" told me it was an iron algee that is harmless but would require an additional filter to get rid of it. the pricetold us we would live with it. We changed to a filter salt that removes iron and 2 year later it pretty good now.
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Old 06-10-2013, 03:52 PM   #13
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Bingo. It's bad water.. Unrelated to anode. It's bacteria producing hydrogen sulfide. Drain the water heater, chlorinate your holding tank and pump that chlorinated water into the hot water heater. It'll clear it up ASAP.
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Old 06-10-2013, 09:28 PM   #14
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Actually, it could be the anode rod or bacteria.
Anode rods are made from magnesium or aluminum. Both of these metals corrode more easily than steel, so they are intended to protect the tank from corroding. When an aluminum rod corrodes, aluminum ions enter the water and precipitate as a gel-like substance. Eventually the gel crystallizes into hard particles which can go to service and plug things, but it does not cause an odor.
Besides acid and oxygen, sulfate ions can corrode anode rods. When this happens, the sulfate ions are converted to hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which causes the rotten-egg odor. Some people remove the anode rod to get rid of the odor, but I don’t recommend it. Besides, removing the rod usually voids the warranty.
There is a type of bacteria called Sulfate-Reducing Bacteria (SRB’s) that “breathe in” sulfate ions and “breathe out” hydrogen sulfide, just like we breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide. If the water is stagnant long enough, the H2S level can become quite high. There is another type of bacteria that gets its energy from iron rather than oxygen or sulfate. Some people think this type of bacteria also produces H2S, but I don’t.
How do you know what is causing the problem?
If the odor appears in the hot water only, it is more likely to be an anode rod reaction (but not always). If the odor is in the cold water but tends to go away after the water flows, it is due to SRB’s.
Raising the water temperature to 140F for 48 hours will kill the bacteria but not stop the anode rod reaction. However, during this time there would be a significant scalding risk.
If you chlorinate and flush the piping and water heater thoroughly (50 ppm for at least 30 minutes), the odor should go away no matter what the cause. If the odor in the hot water returns within a day or two (and the water supply still contains sulfate), it is an anode problem.
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