Hot water smells baaaaaad! - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 17 Old 10-21-2010 Thread Starter
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Hot water smells baaaaaad!

Just the hot water. I have an Isotemp water heater, and the water from it smells like sufur or similar. Acrid. Really awful. I thought i remembered seeing a thread on this but I searched and couldn't find it. Help!

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post #2 of 17 Old 10-21-2010
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You are smelling Hydrogen sulfide, either from the use of well water or you have a bacteria in your hot water tank.
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post #3 of 17 Old 10-21-2010
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Our hot water line was old and ran through the bildge and stunk every time we turned it on. It was picking up a bad smell from the bilge water.

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post #4 of 17 Old 10-21-2010 Thread Starter
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so what to do?
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post #5 of 17 Old 10-22-2010
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You can also get a build up inside the tank. Flush it thoroughly. You may need to do a couple of times.
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post #6 of 17 Old 10-22-2010
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Rik - fix the hole in the hose.

Pub - add chlorine to your hot water system, and then flush out the tank.
It is also possible that the IsoTemp Hot Water Heater has a Magnesium anode in it which is reacting poorly with the minerals in your water system. Replace the anode, preferably with a zinc anode, and treat per above. Also, consider filling your freshwater tanks elsewhere.


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post #7 of 17 Old 10-22-2010
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Odor in hot water systems is usually indicative that the magnesium anode inside the heater has 'depleated' .... replace (or add) the magnesium anode.

Do NOT substitute the magnesium anode with a zinc anode.
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post #8 of 17 Old 10-22-2010
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Ahh.. Rich beat me to it.. I was going to suggest it was the anode too. If it was bacteria from filling the tank, the cold water would smell as well, not as strongly, but it would. If it is only the hot water, it is likely the anode more than bacteria.

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post #9 of 17 Old 10-22-2010
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Arrgh...

Looking into the Magnesium vs Zinc thing. What I know is that Magnesium anodes can react with sulphates in the water to produce Hydrogen Sulphate (aka stink). I believe that this is less of an issue with zinc.

Digging deeper; I looked through the Isotemp website for user manuals. Here is the link: Isotemp Slim & Basic

What I found after skimming a couple of them is that there is NO reference to the anode for an IsoTemp Water Heater. This leads me to conclude that there is no anode! ("There is no spoon.")

Theory: there is bacteria in your fresh water tank, and the temp (>160°F) is killing them in the water heater. As the bacteria decompose in your HW tank, excuse me... , other bacteria are producing hydrogen sulfide.

Possible solution: Chlorinate your entire freshwater system, and then flush with CLEAN water from a different source than you usually use.

I have used swimming pool shock for my (new to me) boat, which had sat unused with full water tanks all summer long. Swimming pool shock is (calcium hypochlorate). Others prefer bleach (sodium hypochlorate) to chlorinate the system. If you want my rationale, follow the links that I provided. What ever you use, hit it hard, and flush it out several times before using.

Good luck!


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post #10 of 17 Old 10-23-2010
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The last is what worked for me. My old water tank would get smelly every now and then. I would let water out, pour a gallon of household bleach into it, refill it and let it sit for a few hours, then flush and refill, No more smell.

I have heard of the anode causing smelly water, but it's never been the source in any case I've dealt with.
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