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rotten eggs


Jim Baird
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I recently had the same situation in a vacant house and have encountered it many times in the past, sulfides reacting with the sacrificial magnesium anode rod. It does not go away by itself and the repair you will get from just about any plumber is to replace the water heater. They will not drain the tank along with replacing the magnesium anode rod as this is to labor intensive or they don't want to bother. It is likely cheaper to:

Replace the tank.

My client called three plumbers and all said the same thing.

And I don't think that the plumbers are lazy or uninformed. It is cheaper to replace the tank when you consider the labor rates.

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Funny, this heater was only found on my second trip. (The job is only 1 1/2 miles away for a friend/client)

Two 2nd floor apartments, stinky water one empty, could not gain access to other one as was occupied. Both heaters in occupied unit! In a closet, behind the clothes washer, which closet door swing (in) stopped by associated piping. Occupant was a "handyman" who put heaters in drain pans, with PT relief to vent stack, both drains and discharge routed together. Had to climb over the washer and wiggle into closet to see the work he was so proud of.

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Keep in mind something when you want to change the anode rod. Measure the height of the tank, that is the approximate length of the rod, look up. Will you have enough clearance to remove the old rod or install the new rod?

I have heard of replacement rods that are actually segmented and jointed so that you can bend them like a caterpillar, but you still need to remove the old one.

I suggest the same fix whenever I come across this problem but the plumbers will not do it. Homeowners are welcome to give it a try but I would not recommend it to those with little mechanical ability.

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Is this installation on a drilled well? It is common that the H2S producing bacteria live in the well not the water heater. I have experience w/ this issue at home. If yes on the well, have you checked the cold water side for this condition? Mine seems to increase during the summer months and slack off in the winter.

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