Anode Rod or Entire Tank?

Question

Hi! Watched your anode rod replacement video on YouTube. I really appreciated your real world example and your genuine attitude.

I have well water that has never given an issue and tastes and looks like spring water for 12 years. I have a 40 gal Bradford White gas hot water tank that is also 12 years old. Last week hot water smelled unbearable in laundry and showers and all faucets. I thought it smelled faintly in cold, but couldnt get anyone to agree. We had a professional replace the anode rod which was eaten down to about 6 inches. Three days later we are still smelling it but not nearly as strong and definitely smelling it in the cold. Hot and cold smell about the same strength. Water still very clear but tastes bad. So my question is, do I replace the tank? Is there another rod on the “cold side”?  I have trouble believing it is the well because the rod replacement helped so much, but with a ton of spring snow melt and daily rain, perhaps there is an issue with the well. Do you have any advice or ideas on the causes or what action we can take? Thanks so much.

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April Kirsch 3 years 3 Answers 698 views

Answers ( 3 )

  1. Always my pleasure. How deep is your well? Yes just replacing a hot water heater isn’t the answer as you know. Have you tried smelling the well itself?

    You could also shock the well. To do this you would place bleach into the well and let it run through. Of course be careful.

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  3. I did mention I have well water. My three nearest neighbors all have wells and do not have this issue currently and never have, going back about 45 years. The area is historically not known for sulfur in the ground.

    It has now been a week since we replaced the rod, and the problem is actually minimizing. It rained again last night and the problem did not worsen at all this morning. The smell is still there but getting fainter. I really cant say for certain it is a sulfur smell. It is a very complex confusing smell that could be considered earthy or metallic or both.

    I stopped at the bacteria lab today in our area and the water expert there mentioned that sediment in the bottom of the hot water tank can and will leak into all the pipes and affect the cold water system. (Bacteria test says no harmful or iron bacteria.) There could be considerable sediment after 12 years although it drained easily. She also mentioned since we had the huge rainstorm the night before we noticed the extreme smell that perhaps the groundwater supply changed and given time will settle back down, which it does seem to be doing.  She said I could try draining the well empty and letting it refill to see what comes up, but Im not sure I could stand watching all that water pump away.

    Im nearly convinced it is still the hot water tank and will replace it. I really appreciate you getting back to me and I hope I could help some others maybe confused by this same situation. Im also hoping to prove sulfur is not always the automatic answer, so keep an open mind if you come up on smelly tank problems. Im guessing no one has this issue because most people would know enough to replace a 12 year old tank and not just the rod. My plumber was aware of its age and didnt mention I should just get a new tank instead, so that’s frustrating. But thank you for attempting to help!

  4. A very common problem with water is sulfur. I first would ask your neighbors if they have a similar issue. But do you have city or well water?

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