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Why Your Hot Water Smells Strange

Why Your Hot Water Smells Strange

March 15, 2019

Updated July 24, 2023

Why Your Hot Water Smells Strange There are few things more alarming than turning on the tap and encountering a strong, foul-smelling odor. If this experience sounds familiar and you are looking for reasons why your hot water smells strange, then continue reading for some insights and solutions from the experts at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing.

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The odor of Rotten Eggs

Why Your Hot Water Smells Like This:
  • A common cause of this smell is sulfur bacteria that has infected your water supply. This sulfuric odor can come from a lack of oxygen in a well, producing hydrogen sulfide gas.
  • Another cause could be sulfur-containing chemical reactions in your groundwater. If this smell is only present in your hot water, the reaction is probably occurring inside your water heater, not your water supply.
  • Install an aeration system that combines dissolved oxygen and catalytic carbon. Catalytic carbon converts the gas to a solid by precipitating the gas and filtering it out. Anything that doesn't convert to a solid gets absorbed into the carbon surface.
  • To completely rid your hot water of the odor you must use an oxidant to kill the sulfur bacteria. Water filters containing chlorine or ozone injection are your best bet. Some of the best filters include: Impression Plus Series, WaterCare, and Evolve.

Earthy/Dirt-like Odor

Why Your Hot Water Smells Like This:
  • A burst of musty, earthy-smelling water when using your hot tap can indicate the presence of iron bacteria in your water supply. This type of bacteria is not harmful but can impart a bad taste.
  • Iron bacteria commonly exist in well water with high iron levels, forming when iron and oxygen mix. Feeding on the iron, the bacteria create a slime to protect themselves. The earthy smell is the odor the bacteria give off when they die.
  • With the warm temperature, your home's water heater can be the perfect breeding ground for iron bacteria. Consequently, if this bacteria problem is in your water heater, you may experience a longer-lasting smell when you turn on your hot tap.
  • Treat the bacteria with a chlorine chemical feed system. A chlorine system can reduce the bacteria and help oxidize the iron for proper filtration.
  • Follow up with an automatic iron filter such as the Impression Plus Series, WaterCare, or Evolve to offer additional oxidation of iron for easy filtration and removal of particles.

Bleach/Chemical Odor

Why Your Hot Water Smells Like This:
  • Chlorine is manually added to public water to disinfect it. Therefore, homes located close to a distribution plant can have higher levels of chlorine in the water.
  • In some cases, this chlorine can interact with organic materials that have accumulated in your plumbing system, which will enhance the musty bleach smell.
  • If you get your water from a well, we recommend flushing your water system. If your water comes from a public supply, you should contact your water supply authority.
  • For a DIY fix, install water filters in each of your home's taps. Some of the most effective filters include The Impression Series Backwashing Carbon Filter, WaterCare's CareClear Pro, and filters by Evolve.
  • Another solution could be installing an R.O. drinking water system, such as Eclipse, Clear Flo, or UltroWater.

Wet-Dog Odor

Why Your Hot Water Smells Like This:
  • If your water supply comes from a private well, this smell is most likely the result of organisms or bacteria that have entered your well, or chemicals used to remove them.
  • If your water comes from a municipal treatment facility, it could be coming from your hot water pipe. The concentration of metal in pipes can cause this wet-dog odor.
  • If you have your own private well, you should have your water source professionally tested and your well chlorinated.
  • If your water comes from a municipal source, your water is regularly tested, and this smell is most likely harmless. You can install carbon-based filters to improve the smell by using reverse osmosis. To address any concerns, you should contact your water supply authority.

Sewage Odor

Why Your Hot Water Smells Like This:
  • This odor could indicate bacteria sitting in the drain.
  • In addition to indicating the presence of bacteria, this smell can also occur when a hot water heater runs at a low temperature or remains dormant for a while. As a result, a heavy gas can fill the drain and escape upward into the air when the tap is turned on.
  • Determine the source of the smell by filling a glass with hot water then bringing it away from the tap to smell it. If there is no odor, the smell is probably coming from the pipes and drain. This means you should clean your drain and call a professional to inspect your pipes.

Petroleum or Gasoline Odor

Why Your Hot Water Smells Like This:
  • Although these odors are rare, they have dangerous implications and you should not ignore them. For instance, this smell could indicate a leaking fuel tank or underground fuel storage tank near your well.
  • Another cause could be discharge from factories or landfills contaminating your water supply.
  • This smell may occur due to run-off from agriculture contaminating the water supply.
  • Report the problem to your county health department. This could be a very serious threat to your health.
  • Send a sample of your water to a DNR-certified laboratory to perform gasoline and VOC analysis to test for gasoline range organics or petroleum.
  • Have a licensed plumber install a water treatment device, such as an activated carbon filtration system after determining the type and source of the chemical contaminant.

Call a Professional!

The certified plumbing experts at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing are here to help! With years of serving residents of Georgia, the team at Bardi Heating, Cooling & Plumbing is armed with the experience to address any of your plumbing needs. We can help find answers to your "why does my water smell strange" question and any others you may have regarding your home. For the best solutions and professional service, give us a call today or visit our website!