Water Smells Like Sulfur When First Turned On: How to Fix It

You’re not alone if you’ve ever noticed a sulfur smell coming from your hot water faucet. Many people around the world encounter this bothersome issue.

When you initially turn on the hot water tap, you may notice a strong sulfurous rotten egg-like odor, which can be surprising and unpleasant. This article will explore this issue, understand the underlying causes, and discuss practical solutions.

Why Hot Water Smells Like Sulfur When First Turned On?

If tap water emits a rotten egg smell when first turned on, this is often due to hydrogen sulfide gas in the water heater. This gas, which can be present in your water supply, is released when heated, producing the characteristic sulfur smell.

This gas is released when the hydrogen sulfide water is heated, producing the characteristic sulfur smell.

There are a few reasons for the presence of hydrogen sulfide in hot water. One common cause is a reaction between sulfur bacteria and the sacrificial anode rod in the water heater tank. Sulfur bacteria, which thrive in oxygen-deficient environments, can convert sulfur compounds into hydrogen sulfide gas as part of their metabolic process.

water smells like sulfur when first turned on

When these bacteria are present in the water heater tank, they can interact with the anode rod, releasing hydrogen sulfide gas when the hot water is turned on. Another factor contributing to the sulfur smell is the warm environment of the water heater.

If the water heater temperature is set too low or the hot water is not used frequently, it creates an ideal environment for the growth of sulfur bacteria. The bacteria will produce the sulfur smell, so it’s necessary to identify the source and take appropriate measures to address it.

Read also: Signs Your Water Heater Is Going to Explode

How Do You Fix Sulfur Smell in Water?

Fortunately, several effective methods address the sulfur smell in hot water and restore its quality. Here are some steps you can take to fix hot water smells like sulfur:

Read also: Why Does My Hot Water Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

● Flushing the Water Heater Tank

Sediments, sulfur, and iron bacteria can accumulate in the water heater tank over time, contributing to the sulfur smell. These bacteria can cause a rotten egg smell and black stains on silverware and plumbing fixtures. Flushing the tank can help remove these contaminants and improve water quality.

Start by turning off the power supply or gas to the water heater. Connect a hose to the drain valve at the bottom of the tank and run it to a suitable drainage area. Open the drain valve and allow the water to flow until it clears. This process helps eliminate sediment buildup and some sulfur bacteria.

Read also: How Often to Drain Water Heater?

● Replacing the Anode Rod

If the sulfur smell persists after flushing the tank, it may indicate a reaction between the anode rod and sulfur bacteria. The anode rod is typically located at the top of the water tank and is designed to attract corrosive elements and protect the tank from rusting.

In newer water heaters, replacing the sacrificial anode rod with an alternative material, such as an aluminum-zinc alloy or an aluminum rod, can help mitigate the issue. This is particularly effective in reducing the levels of hydrogen sulfide that contribute to the water smell like rotten eggs.

Consult the water heater manufacturer’s guidelines or seek professional assistance to ensure the appropriate replacement.

Read also: Why Does My Water Heater Keep Turning Off?

● Increasing the Water Heater Temperature

Sulfur bacteria thrive in a warm environment, so raising the water heater temperature can help prevent their growth. However, exercise caution and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when adjusting the temperature.

Higher water temperatures can increase the risk of scalding and may also lead to higher energy consumption. Ensure the temperature setting is safe and appropriate for your household’s needs.

● Installing a Water Treatment System

If the sulfur smell persists despite taking the steps mentioned above, installing a water treatment system may be necessary. Based on the water quality assessment, choose a water treatment system to move hydrogen sulfide and eliminate the sulfur smell effectively.

Activated carbon or oxidizing filters are commonly used for this purpose, improving the quality of hot water. Consult a water treatment professional to determine the most suitable system.

Installing a water filter or a more comprehensive water filtration system can also effectively address the sulfur smell in your drinking water. These systems can remove contaminants and reduce the presence of sulfur compounds.

If your hot water smells like sulfur when first turned on, the recommended steps above can be a practical solution. If the problem persists or becomes more severe, it is advisable to consult a water treatment professional who can provide advanced guidance and assistance.

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Heater Technician is a skilled author and water heater expert with years of experience in the field. He has authored several articles and books on various aspects of water heater installation, maintenance, and repair.