Possible Reasons That Your Water Heater Smells

November 18, 2022
Water Heater Smell in Jackson, MO

Like any other appliance, water heaters can sometimes suffer from issues that cause them to not work properly. One common complaint we hear at Obermanns is customers saying that their water heater smells, and the first thing we always ask is whether it is the unit itself that smells or if they mean that their hot water has a bad odor. These problems can happen for different reasons. Here is a quick overview of the potential causes and how to overcome them.

Smells Coming From the Water Heater Itself

Unusual odors coming from the water heater itself can be a sign of a few different problems, all of which are something you will want to get checked out as soon as possible. If you notice a rotten egg odor coming from the unit, this means that it is leaking gas. This is a potentially serious problem that you need to get taken care of immediately. The first thing to do is shut off the gas to the unit and then call a plumber at once to have it inspected.

Any burning or electrical smells coming from the water heater typically indicate that it is overheating for some reason or that one of its components is failing. Due to the potential of a fire hazard, you should always turn the unit off until you can have it professionally assessed.

Why Your Hot Water Smells

If the hot water coming from the unit smells like sulfur or rotten eggs, it typically means either that the temperature is set too low or the anode rod needs to be replaced. Both issues are related to bacteria inside the tank that react with the minerals in the water to produce hydrogen sulfide, which has a distinct rotten-egg odor.

If the temperature isn’t at least 120 degrees Fahrenheit, bacteria can start to grow inside the tank and make the water smell bad. In this case, try turning the temperature up to 160 degrees and leaving it there for a few hours before turning it back down. This should kill off any bacteria and prevent the water from smelling.

If the temperature is already above 120 degrees, it typically means that the anode rod is corroded. Basically, this rod works by sacrificing itself so that any bacteria react with it instead of causing the tank to rust and corrode. Over time, the rod will eventually become corroded to the point where it stops working, and that will both cause your water to smell and result in increased rust and corrosion of the tank.

At Obermanns, our team can help you overcome any water heater issues, and we can also assist with maintenance and replacement. We offer drain cleaning, a full range of other plumbing services, and both heating and cooling installations, repairs, and maintenance for customers in Jackson, Cape Girardeau, and the surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule any plumbing or HVAC service.

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