Jump to content

Stinking hot water

Recommended Posts

Extracted and abbreviated from Atwood recommendations.

Shut off water supply and water pump.  Remove drain plug and drain water heater.  Use a flushing wand to flush the water heater.  Replace the plug and remove the pressure/temperature valve. Refill the water heater through the pressure/temperature valve with vinegar and water.  Begin with a gallon of vinegar then a 1/2 gallon of water.  Repeat until water heater is full.  Replace p/t valve and turn water heater on and let is cycle four or five times.  Let the water cool and drain.  Flush with the wand again.  Replace drain plug and fill the water heater with water by normal method.  Should be good to good to go.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The couple of times we've had the stinky water heater we've followed the sanitizing procedure of putting a 1/4 cup of chlorine bleach into 15 gallons of water in the fresh water tank and then running the hot water faucets (using the pump from the fresh water tank) until smelling the chlorine coming through. Once you've got the water heater full of sanitizing solution leave it for an hour or so and then flush the entire system of the chlorinated water.  You might as well open the cold water faucets and sanitize the entire system while you are at it.

Might be worth a try before following the more involved procedure outlined above.

Mark & Teri

2021 Grand Designs Imagine 2500RL, 2019 Ford F-350

Mark & Teri's Travels

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If your water heater uses an anode rod, it can slough-off particles that remain in the tank, and they often cause a foul odor. A water heater flushing wand is required to -er, flush them out of the tank.

When the anode rod is half-gone it's time to replace it, before pieces begin to fall into the tank.


2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom USQ40JD, ISC 8.3 Cummins 350, Spartan MM Chassis. USA IN 1SG retired;Good Sam Life member,FMCA ." And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country.  John F. Kennedy 20 Jan 1961


Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...

We ran into this about a year ago. It means that water in your hot water heater has been there too long.
Drain and fill a couple times with water and a LITTLE chlorine or bleach in the water. Let it sit in the hot water tank (24 hours) then drain. I always empty the tank after camping now - if we are not camping for more than about 2 weeks, the heater needs to be drained.
But be careful as hydrogen sulfide - which produces the odor - can also be present in your fresh water supply.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have been setting my water heater to bypass when sanitizing the water system.  The last couple of times I did this the hot water had a nasty smell and I had to bleach the HW system.  From now on I will automatically bleach the entire system including the HW tank.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The rotten egg smell is usually hydrogen sulfide. To edumacate yourself and learn the best ways to get rid of it whether in the water heater, or not, here's an easy read from PennState Extension I found helpful. The fix is relatively easy.


"Sources of Hydrogen Sulfide

These bacteria feed on small amounts of sulfur in the water and thrive in the low oxygen environments present in groundwater wells and plumbing systems. Although sulfur-reducing bacteria can impart taste and odor in the water, they do not cause health concerns for humans. Hydrogen sulfide problems are most common in wells drilled into acidic bedrock such as shale and sandstone.

Sometimes hydrogen sulfide may be noticeable only in the hot water in the home. In this case, chemical reactions within the water heater may be the source of the rotten egg odor. Water heaters are fitted with a magnesium rod to inhibit corrosion of the heater. The magnesium rod can chemically reduce sulfates to form hydrogen sulfide.

In rare cases, the addition of water treatment equipment, like a water softener, may cause the production of hydrogen sulfide. In this case, the softener provides a favorable environment for sulfur-reducing bacteria to grow."

More and fixes in the full article here: https://extension.psu.edu/hydrogen-sulfide-rotten-egg-odor-in-water-wells

Edited by RV_

http://www.rvroadie.com Email on the bottom of my website page.
Retired AF 1971-1998

When you see a worthy man, endeavor to emulate him. When you see an unworthy man, look inside yourself. - Confucius


“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” ... Voltaire

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You didn't mention what style/type of water you have so will address the common one - the suburban dual gas/electric.  Did you fill your water tank after taking out of storage and if so, where? Were you on city water in Cody? As you mentioned replacing the plug in the heater I will assume you had an empty heater while in storage so...

First, inspect and replace if necessary the anode. Sometimes this is also the electrical heating element in the heater. The smell can be caused by out-gassing of the calcification being burned off. We noticed an increase in calcification while in Texas due to the hard water so paid attention to the quality and used a softener in several areas.

Cody has naturally sulfur smelling water and a good charcoal filter is highly recommended if you are using city water. This is true anywhere in the vicinity of Yellowstone - nature of the beast being in/one a volcano.

You may have sediment in your heater tank that no amount of changing anodes or heating elements will cure. A thorough flush-out while dewinterizing or after taking out following an extended storage is highly recommended. 

Lastly, white vinegar is your friend and there are several videos out there covering its use in a water heater to clean it out. 


Berkshire XL 40QL

Camphosting and touring

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

RVers Online University


RV Destinations

Find out more or sign up for Escapees RV'ers Bootcamp.

Advertise your product or service here.

The Rvers- Now Streaming

RVTravel.com Logo

  • Create New...