Stink From Hot Water Line - Fiberglass RV


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Old 10-18-2009, 02:58 AM   #1
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I have a very distinctive hydrogen sulfide stink from the hot water tap (my son says it smells like Yellowstone!). It's definitely the hot water side, when I turn on only the cold water the smell goes away. I checked online for info about sanitizing the fresh water system, I've seen the recommended 1/4 cup per 15 gallons of fresh water, I probably put in about 1/2 cup of Clorox with a full fresh water tank I estimate to be 18 gallons, and let it soak all day. I've run half of that mix from the freshwater tank through the hot water lines periodically during the day, but it still smells. The stink must be inside the hot water heater, is there anything better than bleach that I can run through the hot water side to neutralize the stink? I'm assuming there's bacteria in the water heater causing this.
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:57 AM   #2
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I would flush,flush,flush the chunks out of your water heater really really good and install a new anode.
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Old 10-18-2009, 07:32 AM   #3
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Did you ever put RV antifreeze in your hot water tank ?

Bill K
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Old 10-18-2009, 08:56 AM   #4
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Quote:
Did you ever put RV antifreeze in your hot water tank ?

Bill K
I have filled my water heater with RV anti freeze, and It hasn't caused a problem.

Smelly hot water is a common enough problem. I just did a google serch with the words 'hot water smell anode' (no quotes in the search text) and found plenty of answers to the problem.

Good luck!

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Old 10-18-2009, 09:33 AM   #5
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I too had that stinky hydrogen smell from the hot water side.... I have since drained and cleaned the hot water tank a few times and installed a new anode rod (I got one with the drain petcock on it but any will work) and now i drain it after every use ( i used to leave the water in the hot water tank ).... the smell is completely gone. When i googled the issue it said that magnesium and aluminum will encourage the stink but the zinc one won't.... as far as protection for your tank they said aluminum was the best and just draining it after use will stop the smell. when using a regular non-draining anode rod i used to use a pvc fitting in the hole with a washing machine screen inside it to keep it ventilated and little critters out.
Joe


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Old 10-18-2009, 05:55 PM   #6
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The stinky hot water is from filling with water that contains sulfur compounds. All you need to do is drain the water heater. California requires substantial testing of water supplies, so it is easy to find out if your water at home contains these sulfur compounds (ours does). If you have sulfur in your water supply, you will need to drain the water heater after every camping trip to avoid stinky hot water.
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Old 10-18-2009, 06:14 PM   #7
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The anode in a water heater is sacrificial, it is eaten away by some compounds is hard water. The reason you are only getting it on the hot side is because the anode is being eaten away INSTEAD of the water heater tank. Nothing to worry about, but just need to check anode on occasion to be sure it's not totally gone.
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Old 10-18-2009, 09:50 PM   #8
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We live in the country on well water and I have had some experience with this problem at our last house and our current house. It can happen that you get iron and or sulphur reducing bacteria in the hot water tank. They definitely react with certain kinds of anode or are more prevalent in water supplies that are also reactive to certain types of anode. I would think that with an RV the problem will be temporary because you have some control over the quality of the fresh water you put in.
In our case if we find the hot water smells a bit like sulphur, we shock our HWT with some peroxide or some bleach to kill off the bacteria. A neat way to get at the whole system is to open the drain on the HWT, with the cold water inlet shut off. In a household system very little water will leak out. Then bring a cup of bleach to the tip of a faucet and open only the hot water valve, this will release the airlock and allow water to drain out the bottom of the tank while drawing bleach into the faucet and directly into the tank. Chase the cup of bleach (what we use for a 40 gal tank) with enough water to get through the plumbing and to the tank and then let everything sit for 12-24 hours. . also you could repeat this for all the faucets if you want to make sure that you get at all the hot water plumbing. Beware, often after a shock some black sediment may flush through when you first use the hot water (it is from the anode).

I'd recommend you keep an anode in the tank(whatever kind (aluminum may not be wise as it is associated with memory loss)), removing it will lead to corrosion of the tank instead of just the anode.

Hope that helps some

-Kevin
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:42 AM   #9
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OK, I discovered a plastic drain plug for the hot water tank, I unplugged it and some nasty gray smelly sludge came out. Also I removed the aerator from the faucet which was also packed with the same smelly sludge. I drained and refilled the hot water heater a couple times and it's much better now, still can detect a whiff, but acceptable. The folks I bought the trailer from never drained the tank, and they hadn't used it for a year and a half before I bought it.

Is the anode rod another plug somewhere, I know that's how it is on a house hot water heater. I don't see another plug that could be the anode, does anyone have a pic of what that looks like from the hot water tank's access cover? Also the 1/2" hollow drain plug seems kind of flimsy, I was thinking to replace it with a half inch ball valve so it's easy to drain but there probably isn't enough room. Joe, did you get that drain plug/petcock from any hardware store? I'll probably keep the tank drained when not in use to prevent the smelly water problem from reoccurring.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:45 AM   #10
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I have the Suburban water heater in the 2003 Casita. The annode rod is at the bottom of the tank (circled in the picture). You have access coming in under the gas mixing tube that blocks the most of the view. On mine it's a 1-1/16" socket (I just drained it from a recent trip and looked specifically at the socket since it was the subject of a recent conversation at the get together.)

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Often these can be a bear to remove if they haven't been touched in a while. I drain after each trip so mine is in and out 3-4 times a year. I also use teflon tape when reinserting it which probably makes subsequent removals a skosh easier.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:55 AM   #11
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Ditto from me to on everything Steve said above.....That Teflon plug you pulled out sounds like they never had an anode rod in there and used that for ease of removal..... You should have one in there.
While my drain type is just OK (water doesn't sit in the Hot Water Tank long enough.....maybe five days the most) A regular anode is better for extended periods of water in the tank but is a pain in the butt to remove after each short outing.
I purchased mine off ebay at the following link and also have that flushing kit that is on the same page...... It got all the gunk out of the bottom of my tank
Joe

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/RV-ANODE-RO...sQ5fAccessories

If you decide to leave the anode rod out while in storage be sure to cover the hole with something like a small rag stuffed in there or just go to the hardware store and buy a piece of 3/4" threaded pvc and put a washing machine screen in the far side..... this way it can breathe keep the bugs out and not promote mildew etc


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Old 10-19-2009, 11:39 AM   #12
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Steve/Joe, from your description, it sounds like the anode rod is part of the drain plug. On my drain plug it's just a plastic drain plug, and there's no anode. Most of my trips will be a couple days in length, perhaps another longer 2 week trip out of the year. When stored at home I could easily drain the tank. So I'm not sure if it's worth putting in a anode rod if it's harder to get in and out to drain. Right now I have the plug out but it's a good idea to screen it against insects as you suggest Joe.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:46 AM   #13
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OK I looked at the flushing /anode rod/drain petcock kit more carefully, I misunderstood that I had to remove the anode rod to drain it, but actually it looks like I can drain it with the anode in place. Also the plastic flushing wand looks like it should clean out the tank pretty well. In that case I plan on installing that anode/drain kit, thanks folks for the tips.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:22 PM   #14
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There is the possibility that your water heater does not have an anode. My Scamp is equipped with an Attwood water heater that does not have one.

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