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Stinky hot water


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I have the stinky hot water smell. I am on the road in a park.

 

I need to know first if the water or whatever is making it smell is dangerous.

Second, how do I get rid of it.
Third, where did it come from so I can avoid it in the future?
Last, if it involves dumping water and flushing systems, how do I do that in an RV park? That's a lot of water to just dump on the ground.
It is an Atwood 10 gal tank
Thanks VERY much.
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What is the smell and taste? Rotten egg? Impossible to tell if it is dangerous, but unlikely. As to where it came from, without knowing where you filled you water tank it is impossible to know.

 

As to flushing, it it rather simple since you are hooked up in an RV park. Just turn off the water heater so you don't waste propane and turn on the hot faucet at the sink. Fifteen minutes should do the trick.

 

There are more exotic ways to eliminate the taste and smell but I would try this simple fix first.

 

If you haven't sanitized the tank in a while, that would also be a good thing to try. The bleach method is available in many places, including here: http://www.1tree.net/adventure/index.php/rv-living/maintenance/water-and-sewer/water-system-sanitizing

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Kind of rotten egg, but not exactly.

 

The water is from my house, but it has been sitting a few weeks.

 

Won't the hot water tank keep filling as I run the water?

 

I should say that I have been using the fresh water tank, but only the hot water smells, not the cold.

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Won't the hot water tank keep filling as I run the water?

 

 

 

Yes. That will flush out the water that has been sitting there and replace it with fresh water.

 

However, now that you have explained where the water came from I think the best bet would be to sanitize the whole system, including your fresh water tank, as I suggested above. You may have algae or some other type of growth in the water. Sanitizing is the best bet.

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http://www.rvnetwork.com/index.php?showtopic=109518&hl=%2Brotten+%2Begg+%2Bsmell

 

The above topic is what I posted a couple years ago. Lot's of good information. I was able to reduce but not eliminate the problem when staying at the site. Have to do a good sanitation of the entire system after leaving or the problem would reappear most likely from the water heater. If you have ever been to the sulfur pots in Yellowstone park you know the type of bacteria loves the heat and iron do the water heater is where they grow.

 

Rod

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I need to know first if the water or whatever is making it smell is dangerous.

Second, how do I get rid of it.
Third, where did it come from so I can avoid it in the future?
It is an Atwood 10 gal tank

 

While it isn't possible to say with absolute certainty, there is very little likelihood that there is anything more than smell with that water. By far the most common cause of an odor from hot water only is a form of algae that grows in the how water tank and which came from water that you have used, probably from well water. I very much agree with Rif that the best solution is to sanitize the entire system, including the water heater. In our years on the road I had this problem 2 of 3 times, nearly always when on well water but if you do not sanitize the system once a year or so, it can become contaminated with the spores of the guilty algae or even some algae that may grow green scum in cold water lines and either one can upset a wife pretty quickly!

 

The fact that you have an Atwood water heater means that there should be no anode rod in it so I'd also check that and if there is, get rid of it and install one of the plastic plugs that Atwood recommends or their more expensive brass one. Atwood water heaters have an aluminum tank and it is not compatible with any form of anode, even though there are aftermarket people who sell one. Atwood used a different size drain plug in an effort to prevent the installing of the Suburban anode, but there are always those who find a way to do something wrong or to sell you the wrong thing. Installing an anode into an Atwood water heater voids the tank warranty.

 

It is true that you can use hydrogen-peroxide in place of chlorine bleach but it isn't as effective and is more difficult to know when you have gotten it completely through the system because it has no odor while you will smell the chlorine when it has come completely through the system. For that reason I continue to use chlorine bleach as a disinfectant for our water system and just follow instructions to prevent problems from it.

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First off the smell is a chemical gas, Hydrogen Sulfide. It is produced by Sulfide eating bacteria whose excretion contains the gas. There is no algae but several other items can be encouraged by the bacteria making the gas. Your anode rods may or may not encourage the growth of the bacteria but I am not sure it is not false correlation because the anode rods do not in themselves smell. Nor can they metabolize sulfites and produce the gas that the bacteria do.

 

When I was working on med lab cultures we would often do the old culture and sensitivity tests. That was an agar plate with seven or eight antibiotics placed around it and we'd see which inhibited growth, and which did not. Calling the bacteria algae is like calling Watts Amps and expecting to fix a problem. The bacteria are specific and bleach does the trick

 

Excerpt:

 

"How can I find the source of a hydrogen sulfide problem, and what can I do to eliminate it?

The odor of hydrogen sulfide gas can be detected in water at a very low level. Smell the water coming out of the hot and cold water faucets.

 

Determine which faucets have the odor. The "rotten egg" smell will often be more noticeable from the hot water because more of the gas is vaporized.

 

Your sense of smell becomes dulled quickly, so the best time to check is after you have been away from your home for a few hours. You can also have the water tested for hydrogen sulfide, sulfate, sulfur bacteria, and iron bacteria at an environmental testing laboratory. The cost of testing for hydrogen sulfide ranges from $20 to $50 depending on the type of test.

If the smell is only from the hot water faucet the problem is likely to be in the water heater.

 

If the smell is in both the hot and cold faucets, but only from the water treated by a water softener and not in the untreated water the problem is likely to be sulfur bacteria in the water softener.

 

If the smell is strong when the water in both the hot and cold faucets is first turned on, and it diminishes or goes away after the water has run, or if the smell varies through time the problem is likely to be sulfur bacteria in the well or distribution system.

 

If the smell is strong when the water in both the hot and cold faucets is first turned on and is more or less constant and persists with use the problem is likely to be hydrogen sulfide as in the groundwater."

 

http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/hydrosulfide.html

 

That article in the Minnesota department of health covers the topic very well and covers these paragraphs as well:

What are the sources of hydrogen sulfide in well water and the water distribution system?
Are sulfur bacteria or hydrogen sulfide harmful?
Are there other problems associated with sulfur bacteria or hydrogen sulfide?
What causes hydrogen sulfide gas to form in groundwater?
How is hydrogen sulfide gas produced in a water heater?
How can I find the source of a hydrogen sulfide problem, and what can I do to eliminate it?
What can I do about a problem water heater?
What if sulfur bacteria are present in the well, the water distribution system, or the water softener?
What if hydrogen sulfide gas is in the groundwater?
Other related references that are available from the MDH?

 

This is well documented and proven basic biochemistry.

 

Algae blooms are another organism entirely and do not cause the odors that the bacteria does,. But they may both come in from the same water. But only the bacteria produces the Hydrogen Sulfide gas in our water supplies, the gas is dissolved in the water. That is why a glass left to sit open can dissipate the gas and seem OK an hour later.

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We had the same smelly hot water a while back. It happened after we put that pink RV antifreeze in the system. The cause of the smell was the anode in the hot water heater had an issue with the pink antifreeze. It turned into this white crusty material. We pulled it, flushed and flushed the white stuff out. Put in a new anode and haven't used the pink antifreeze since. No stink ever after that.

 

Rich

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We pulled it, flushed and flushed the white stuff out. Put in a new anode and haven't used the pink antifreeze since. No stink ever after that.

No need to ever put antifreeze into the water heater tank if you use a bypass kit. It also saves you 6 gallons or more of antifreeze.

 

If you water heater had a significant calcium deposit buildup you need to drain and flush it more often. I suggest that it should be done at least annually.

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The Teton has all that bypass stuff and a Tygon tube with a valve on it to suck the pink stuff right out of the bottle but, it was windy, my hands were freezing, not happy about having put off the winterizing and ya know how you read the directions only as a last resort.....some pink stuff got in there but didn't fill it.

 

It seemed the pink stuff reacted with the anode because the white stuff was just hanging on the center wire that used to be the sacrificial material of the anode.

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The "pink stuff" is Propylene Glycol as used by Splash/Fox Industries, you know the same stuff used in prepackaged foodstuffs, or Ethanol, as used by Peak RV/marine Antifreeze company. I doubt the anode is sensitive to RV antifreeze, as both are safe for human consumption-in moderation, although both have a bad taste in antifreeze form- purposefully. Suburban heater anode rods are Magnesium, some aftermarket rods are Aluminum. If RV antifreeze reacts with Aluminum, many RVers have corroded Attwood heater tanks without knowing.

This process is Galvanic Corrosion, which cannot happen without a path for mild electricity to flow, which in most cases is water. Since RV antifreeze is about 60-70% water, this water is what allowed the anode rod to be corroded away. It would have happened if you had left water in the heater for an extended period too.

 

After- thought; I really like your rig!

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