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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a customer on well water. Saying she has smelly water. I haven't been there yet but I am thinking the water heater needs one of those special anode rods.

My question is whether anyone when switching the anode also treats the tank with a small amount of bleach? I only had to deal with this myself 1 time before when I was an employee and the boss told me to just cut off the existing rod and put in a couple spoonfuls of bleach.

So to bleach or not? Or simply keep it at just replacing the anode rod.

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I have a customer on well water. Saying she has smelly water. I haven't been there yet but I am thinking the water heater needs one of those special anode rods.

My question is whether anyone when switching the anode also treats the tank with a small amount of bleach? I only had to deal with this myself 1 time before when I was an employee and the boss told me to just cut off the existing rod and put in a couple spoonfuls of bleach.

So to bleach or not? Or simply keep it at just replacing the anode rod.

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Is the cold side smelly also? Chlorine/bleach does kill bacteria in well water that produce the smell. Changing an anode rod may affect the hot side but not the cold of course.
So bleach it if it makes the customer happy, but find the cause.
 

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Is the cold side smelly also? ........
I am really sick of this being the determining factor for most guys. No offense to you, but it's mostly a bunch of bull. I have taken hundreds if not thousands of samples testing for bacteria as part of home sales. I have had to go and chlorinate wells/houses that supposedly just needed an anode rod swap because only the hot side smelled. The anode rod was changed and the smell persisted because there was bacteria in the heater.

Every water source that isn't chemically treated, usually with Chlorine, will have some amount of bad bacteria. You can change the anode rod, bleach flush the heater, and have the smell issue return. You know why? Because there is bacteria in the whole system, and as soon as that bleach is gone it will proliferate in the nice warm heater again as soon as the have low usage for a while.

Yes, Magnesium anode rods AND mineral content can cause poop smelling water, seen it plenty of times. But that can, and often is, happening in conjunction with a bacterial issue. The same Sulfur compounds that react with the Magnesium anode rod are also food for the bacteria that make the smell.

You can have bacteria on the cold side, it just won't always be smelly if they do not proliferate due to the cold temperature or because the cold side is used much more often.

The steel of a water heater is a much better petri dish than copper or plastic piping. There is little to no turbulence and it's a very rough surface.

Water containing Sulfur can cause Anode rod AND Bacterial issues that only show perceptible smell on the hot side.
 
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Drain the heater a good ways, pull the old rod, pour in a few ounces of bleach, put the new rod in, and tell them to wait an hour before using the heater.

If the smell only recently started it may be that bacteria have taken hold in the tank due to a period of no use. Bleaching the tank will resolve this until the water is stagnant again.

If it really was just an anode rod issue than what did it hurt for you to take an extra minute and dump some bleach in? Yes water quality from a well can/will change over the life of the well, but chances are they would have had a smell issue all along if they've always had the Mag rod and the same well.

Illinois requires that all heaters be set to above 160F and then have a tempering valve to bring it back down to 120F. The higher temperature in the heater will prevent it from becoming a petri dish for bacteria.
 

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Also, because we're discussing chlorination to eliminate bad bacteria, the only proper way is to chlorinate the well, run chlorinated water through ALL of the potable plumbing, let it sit 24hrs, and then flush it out.

Simply bleaching the water heater will not remove the bacteria from the whole system.

If you think there is bad bacteria getting into the system you also need to look into how it's getting in. In my experience it's usually not septic run off, as popular as that answer may be. The electrical conduit going to the well head is the #1 cause I find.
 
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I checked my post for clarity and made a change. The lead in to your post has me thinking it was something about mine that got you typing. But I couldn’t tell for sure exactly what it was, so I went ahead and changed what I thought would make it better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Well I went and looked and ended up telling them to call a well & septic company as they have more experience in hoelw to treat the well. The customers had just bought the house and were still moving in. I smelled the water from a faucet first and the hit side was bad but the cold side also had a faint smell to it.

I already suspected it being an issue with bacteria in the well now. As I opened the tiny mechanical room I saw a whole house filter that was black. I took it off and there was no filter in it. The water in the plastic housing had the faint smell to it. From there the line went in to a softener that had no salt in it and from what I could tell had mouse droppings on the head.

So yes I told them to get a well company to take a look and probably sanitize the whole well and house.

The black stuff that's wet looking is from dumping the water from the filter housing in the sink. The filter is before the water softener and it was not grainy but almost more a little slimy so it is not from the softener and struck me as a bacteria growth.



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Well I went and looked and ended up telling them to call a well & septic company as they have more experience in hoelw to treat the well. The customers had just bought the house and were still moving in. I smelled the water from a faucet first and the hit side was bad but the cold side also had a faint smell to it.

I already suspected it being an issue with bacteria in the well now. As I opened the tiny mechanical room I saw a whole house filter that was black. I took it off and there was no filter in it. The water in the plastic housing had the faint smell to it. From there the line went in to a softener that had no salt in it and from what I could tell had mouse droppings on the head.

So yes I told them to get a well company to take a look and probably sanitize the whole well and house.

The black stuff that's wet looking is from dumping the water from the filter housing in the sink. The filter is before the water softener and it was not grainy but almost more a little slimy so it is not from the softener and struck me as a bacteria growth.



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If that's manganese like I think it is then they'll have a fun time. Likely need an iron filter and a carbon filter.
 
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Do they have water in a tank somewhere? That can be an issue too. If they do, an ozone bubbler will work wonders on bacteria. They also should be chlorinating in the tank.

it really looks like they have a manganese problem; you will probably need a resin filter or a zeolite filter to treat that (not sure if they make those for residential).

Also, sometimes the cold water smells and people don’t pick up on it as much. There’s something about hot water and in particular the shower that atomizes the water makes the smell more intense. There’s something about hot water and in particular, the shower that atomizes the water and makes the smell more obvious.

having a good bit of experience in water quality, my senses told me this was probably a manganese/sulfur problem.
 
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