St Paul Pipeworks recently installed an A. O. Smith Voltex Water Heater in a customer’s home. A Voltex is an electric water heater with a heat pump located inside of its tank. The customer’s home was using well water for their home water supply.

About two days after the water heater was installed their hot water smelled and tasted bad. The smell is similar to a rotten egg or sulfur smell, so the customer noticed it immediately. The drinking water was described as tasting rusty.

The plumbers at St Paul Pipeworks did some research and soon realized that the anode rod that came with the water heater was reacting with some sort of bacteria in their well creating the smell and bad taste.

The anode rod is about three feet long and goes on the top of the water heater. It is designed to be sacrificial so that bacteria, rust, limestone, or any other particulate in the water will be attracted to the rod and eat away at it rather than eating away at the lining of the water heater.

The rods are generally made of either magnesium, zinc, or aluminum. This particular rod was reacting very poorly with bacteria that was in the customer’s well.

All wells have bacteria of some kind in them. St Paul Pipeworks took three samples for analysis of the customer’s well water. These included their filtered well water and their hot water after the hot water had been heated.

The results showed that the solution was to remove the anode rod and replace it with an electrified anode rod. Once the new rod was replaced, the plumber also ran a solution of bleach through the customer’s whole hot water system, and it corrected the smell and taste almost immediately.

The plumbers at St Paul Pipeworks always try to caution customers not to assume that all water coming into households is the same – it is not. Water in every city varies a lot, especially if you are using well water.

There are some city water systems that treat the water completely so a lot of these issues never arise. Some city water systems only partially treat the water and there are some cities that do not treat the water at all. These cities essentially have a city well or multiple city wells and the water coming into your home is untreated, so you must have a personal system in your home to treat your own water.

It is important to know how your city treats your water because certain water can be aggressive. It can wear out your pipes and fixtures if the water is too hard or has other properties that are aggressive. Typically, you can contact your local cities water department to learn what is in your water, and/or you can have your water tested free of charge to find out what is in it.

If you are having a problem with your water heater and are looking to have it repaired or to install a new one or are just looking for a quality plumber in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, give St Paul Pipeworks a call today.  

Yours Truly,
Matthew Dettwiler
Social Media Manager


Q: Why does my water smell like rotten eggs after installing a new water heater?

A: The smell of rotten eggs in your water could stem from the reaction of the anode rod in your water heater with bacteria present in your well water. In certain cases, the anode rod, designed to attract particles and prevent corrosion inside the heater, can react poorly with specific bacteria, causing a foul smell and taste.

Q: How does the anode rod contribute to the smell and taste of water?

A: An anode rod is a sacrificial component within a water heater, typically made of magnesium, zinc, or aluminum. Its purpose is to attract impurities like bacteria, rust, or minerals, preventing them from damaging the water heater’s lining. However, when it reacts with certain bacteria present in the well water, it can lead to a foul odor and taste in the hot water supply.

Q: What steps can I take to address my water’s unpleasant smell and taste?

A: Upon encountering a rotten egg smell or rusty taste in your water, one effective solution involves replacing the standard anode rod with an electrified anode rod. Additionally, running a bleach solution through the entire hot water system can help eliminate the smell and taste caused by the reaction between the anode rod and bacteria.

Q: How can I determine the quality of my water, especially if I use well water?

A: Understanding the composition and quality of your water is crucial, particularly if you rely on well water. You can take samples of your well water for analysis to identify any bacteria or impurities present. Also, contacting your local city’s water department or opting for free water testing can provide valuable insights into the properties of your water.

Q: What should I consider about my city’s water treatment when it comes to my household water supply?

A: Different cities have varying degrees of water treatment processes. Some cities treat water extensively, while others may only partially treat it or have untreated water systems. It’s essential to know how your city treats its water, as aggressive water with high mineral content can affect your pipes and fixtures. Contacting your local water department or conducting water tests can help you understand the specific properties of your city’s water.

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For any water heater issues, repairs, installations, or plumbing services in the St. Paul and Minneapolis metro area, contact St. Paul Pipeworks for professional assistance.

Why Does My Water Smell Like Rotten Eggs? Ask a Plumber…