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OT: Water that stinks

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  • OT: Water that stinks

    I very recently installed a new water heater as part of my system upgrade with the well water preheat apparatus. For the last few weeks we have had a problem that has become absolutely intolerable. The hot water smells like something died in it, the rich aroma of rotten eggs which is especially noticeable when taking a shower.

    I did some research and it turns out that the problem is being caused by the new water heater. Most water heaters contain a long magnesium anode rod that is installed in a fitting at the top of the tank. It is meant to act as a sacrificial anode to prevent corrosion of the actual tank. However, if your water is hard as ours is and contains sulphates as ours does then a reaction will take place that produces hydrogen sulphide gas. This dissolves in the water and is released into the air from the water. Boy, does it ever stink.

    The solution is to remove the anode rod and replace the plug in the top of the tank. With very hard water the water is alkaline and will form a deposit on the walls of the tank that actually protect it from corrosion anyway. The anode rod is only required for acid water conditions. I took the rod out tonight after having to make a special 1 1/16" socket using my CNC mill. What a pain! Whoever installed that part must think it is responsible for holding the Earth in orbit. I had to not only make a socket to fit but it took a three foot cheater to break it loose. It would have been nice if they had included a warning tag to inform me about this possibility. Fortunately there was just barely enough room over the tank to remove the anode.

    The upside to this problem is that I now have a 5/8" 3 foot long magnesium rod with only minor corrosion to play with.
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  • #2
    Had the same problem but in reverse, no rod cam with the new hot water tank, same unbelievably tight plug though, was not sure I was even going to get it out. The rod cost another $47 (Then)

    Magnesium machines beautifully.


    • #3
      Just keep in mind the rods usually (but not always) have a core wire, so that uneven erosion of the anode doesn't eventually cause it to fall into pieces.

      But other than that, it's basically pure mag. They make great DIY camp firestarters.

      Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


      • #4
        They make great DIY camp firestarters.

        That too

        I did a machining job with magnesium some time back and kept all the cuttings, burns real hot, I have heard , don't know if true, that it burns hotter the the sun.


        • #5
          I can sympathize with your plight Evan, went through the same thing a long time ago. What a stench, you don't even want to take a bath in it never mind get any in your mouth when you brush your teeth!

          I'm glad to see they haven't lowered the torque requirements for that frigging anode. I believe I used a 1" torque multiplier wrench for freeing that sob from the tank. If I remember right the biggest hurdle was securing the tank so that I wouldn't rip the plumbing off of it.
          Home, down in the valley behind the Red Angus
          Bad Decisions Make Good Stories​

          Location: British Columbia


          • #6
            Originally posted by Ken_Shea
            [...] I have heard , don't know if true, that it burns hotter the the sun.
            -Um, not true. Not even close.

            Magnesium burns at several thousand degrees- hot, yes, but the sun is in the millions.

            Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


            • #7
              Originally posted by Doc Nickel
              -Um, not true. Not even close.

              Magnesium burns at several thousand degrees- hot, yes, but the sun is in the millions.

              Well that's pretty close

              EDIT: According to Wikipedia, it burns at 4000F
              Last edited by Ken_Shea; 12-31-2008, 02:53 AM.


              • #8
                The sun's surface is 5800K or about 10,000 degrees, F.


                • #9
                  However, the surface temperature of a sunspot is around 4000K and the maximum adiabatic flame temperature of a magnesium flame is about 3600C. Convert to Kelvin and that is about 3900K. Pretty close.

                  Well, this morning will be the acid test, so to speak, when wife takes her shower. No stink=happy wife.

                  Speaking of acid, the H2S gas combines with dissolved oxygen in the water to create H2SO4 which is sulphuric acid. It can quickly cause heavy damage to metal plumbing.
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                  • #10
                    Watery stuff

                    As it seems to be topical to complain about water quality and how tough it is etc. etc. just by pure co-incidence, two "On topic" emails came in about an hour ago within ten minutes of each other.

                    Here they are - just as I received them.

                    Happy watering.

                    An Interesting fact of life brought to you free!

                    As Ben Franklin said:
                    "In wine there is wisdom, in beer there is freedom, in water there is bacteria".

                    In a number of carefully controlled trials, scientists have
                    demonstrated that if we drink 1 liter of water each day, at the end of the year we would have absorbed more than 1 kilo of Escherichia coli, (E. coli) - bacteria found in feces.

                    In other words, we are consuming 1 kilo of poop.

                    However, we do NOT run that risk when drinking wine & beer (or tequila, rum, whiskey or other liquor) because alcohol has to go through a purification process of boiling, filtering and/or fermenting.

                    Remember: Water = Poop, Wine = Health

                    Therefore, it's better to drink wine and talk stupid, than to drink water and be full of ****.

                    There is no need to thank me for this valuable information: I'm doing it as a public service.
                    Subject: Very interesting history lesson!

                    The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

                    Here are some facts about England in the 1500s:

                    Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odour.

                    Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

                    Baths consisted of a big tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men, then the women and finally the children. Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it.

                    Hence the saying: "Don't throw the baby out with the Bath water".

                    Houses had thatched roofs-thick straw-piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the cats and other small animals (mice, bugs) lived in the roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would slip and fall off the roof.

                    Hence the saying: "It's raining cats and dogs".

                    There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung
                    over the top afforded some protection.

                    That's how canopy beds came into existence.

                    The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than dirt.

                    Hence the saying, Dirt poor.

                    The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread thresh (straw) on floor to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in
                    the entranceway.

                    Hence the saying about a thresh hold.

                    (Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

                    In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold
                    overnight and then start over the next day. Sometimes stew had food in it that had been there for quite a while.

                    Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old".

                    Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man could, bring home the bacon.

                    They would cut off a little to share with guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat".

                    Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years
                    or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

                    Bread was divided according to status. Workers got the burnt bottom of the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the "upper crust".

                    Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the
                    family would gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.

                    Hence the custom of holding a wake.

                    England is old and small and the local folks started running out of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a bone-house, and reuse the grave... When reopening these coffins, some of the coffins were found to have scratch marks on the
                    inside and they realised they had been burying people alive. So they would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night (the graveyard shift.) to
                    listen for the bell.

                    Thus, someone could be, saved by the bell or was considered a ... "dead ringer".
                    And that's the truth. Now, whoever said History was boring ! ! !

                    Educate someone. Share these facts with a friend.


                    • #11

                      Had that problem when I lived in the San Joaquin Valley in Ca..

                      STINKY... We Drank only Bottled Water... and during a Shower the Smell was terrible..

                      Glad I Live Up Here Now, Only Sweet tasting Hard Water to Deal with.

                      Lot Of Build up in Water Heater, but that is easy to Clean Out...

                      Water Softener is an option, but You Have it Handled ..
                      Last edited by Bguns; 12-31-2008, 06:55 AM.


                      • #12
                        Turn some fresh shavings off a magnesium bar, scrunch up in your hand to fine shavings and throw it over the shoulder of someone welding, Torker ?

                        Causes a right hoot.................


                        Sir John , Earl of Bligeport & Sudspumpwater. MBE [ Motor Bike Engineer ] Nottingham England.


                        • #13
                          The target keeps moving.

                          My compliments to Evan on his diagnosis. Sure took me a lot longer to figure it out. Our problem in this area started when they changed the chemistry of the anode. We used a 3/4" air impact to loosen them. A large bolt cutter solved the anode length problem. We just put the fitting back in with the anode removed. The bad news is that you can't get to the anode on the new water heaters. Here the reaction is actually micro organisms feeding on the anode. In sevier cases we installed a chlorinator. In less sevier cases we just used perodic chlorination of the water well. In our basic water chemestry tank failures were almost unheard of.
                          Byron Boucher
                          Burnet, TX


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by dp
                            The sun's surface is 5800K or about 10,000 degrees, F.
                            -High school was a long time ago. The core temperature is in the millions- it'd have to be, else the fusion couldn't take place. (Well, that and the pressure, etc.)

                            But speaking of magnesium, I have a few small pieces I've been "saving" for a special project... But I have yet to run across a project I need magnesium for. It's a bit lighter than aluminum, sure, but I don't have any RC cars or RC planes or balloon-lofted toys where a few grams make a difference.

                            So what should I use it for? I mean, in what sort of small home-shop type jobs would I need mag instead of aluminum?

                            Not that I need to use this stuff up or anything.

                            Doc's Machine. (Probably not what you expect.)


                            • #15
                              I haven't given it any thought yet but I suspect I will think of something to use it for besides making extraordinarily bright lights that scare the neighbours.

                              Interesting thing about the sun, the corona, or atmosphere, has a temperature over a million degrees. While this was noted a long time ago we still don't know why it is so. As for the visible surface of the sun called the photosphere, it is a good approximation of a vacuum near the top of the visible surface. Even hundreds of kilometers deep it is no denser than our atmosphere. When we look at the sun with a telescope using a nickel filter or H Alpha filter we see massive granulation cells (turbulence features). They are not flat surface features because the sun has no surface. We can see several hundred kilometers into the sun before the plasma density becomes high enough to absorb most photons. It is for this reason that the solar disc is observed to have darkened limbs. Light emitted from the sun mostly originates below the visible "surface" and on the limbs must take a longer path through the plasma to reach us.
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