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A Guide to Sacrificial Anode Rods and Smelly Water

If you’ve noticed your home’s water is smelling like rotten eggs, you may have an issue with your water heater’s sacrificial anode rod. While these rods are essential to your water heater’s longevity, they can age and corrode over time, leading to smelly water. Find out more about sacrificial anode rods and why they might be causing your water to smell bad.

What Are Sacrificial Anode Rods?

A sacrificial anode rod is a key part of a tank-style water heater. This long metal rod is installed inside a water heater’s tank and hangs from the top into the tank’s water. As the name suggests, a sacrificial anode rod protects the rest of the tank’s metal by attracting corrosion and mineral build-up to itself. While the rod corrodes, the rest of the tank’s metal will be unaffected by the water, helping the water tank last longer and stay rust-free.

Typically, sacrificial anode rods last around two to four years before breaking down and losing their protective abilities. After a sacrificial anode rod corrodes enough, it will fail to protect the rest of the tank. When the water in the tank doesn’t have a rod to send its minerals to, it will send them to the tank instead, leading to your water heater corroding.

Why Do Sacrificial Anode Rods Cause Smelly Water?

While sacrificial anode rods are critical to the health of your water heater tank, they can sometimes create issues with smelly water. For example, a corroded aluminum or magnesium sacrificial anode rod is a common cause behind water having a rotten-egg smell. 

As magnesium or aluminum sacrificial anode rods break down, the corroded metal will react with the water’s sulfites. This combination of corroded metal and sulfites results in the creation of hydrogen sulfide. When you have hydrogen sulfide in your water heater, it will cause your home’s water to have a rotten egg smell that you’ll likely want to get rid of as fast as possible. 

How to Get Rid of Bad Smelling Water?

If your sacrificial anode rod is at fault, you’ll need to contact a plumber. One short-term rotten egg water smell service a plumber can perform is to drain your water heater’s water and disinfect the tank. The plumber can also replace the corroded anode rod with a new one to prevent the smell from coming back for a little while.

How Can I Stop My Sacrificial Anode Rod From Causing Bad Smelling Water in the Future?

Though flushing your tank’s water, disinfecting the tank, and replacing the anode rod will usually stop the bad smell, it won’t prevent the smell from coming back in the future if you continue to use a magnesium or aluminum sacrificial anode rod. Instead of using an anode rod made out of one of these materials, you can prevent the bad smell from returning by having a plumber install a new zinc or aluminum-zinc alloy anode rod. 

Since aluminum-zinc alloy or zinc anode rods don’t interact with bacteria like rods made of only aluminum or magnesium, they significantly reduce the chance of hydrogen sulfide getting in your water. By switching to a rod that doesn’t produce hydrogen sulfide, you’ll prevent bad-smelling water, even when the sacrificial anode rod is corroded and close to needing a full replacement.

If the bad smell continues to persist after you’ve replaced your old rod with a non-hydrogen-sulfide producing rod, you’ll want to have a plumber inspect your home for other potential sources.

Choose Bonney for Water Smell Plumbing Services in Sacramento

When you need a water smell repair or inspection, turn to Bonney. Our team of expert plumbers can provide water smell plumbing services, finding the source of the smell and fixing the issue for you. For example, if our team finds that an old, rusty sacrificial anode rod is at fault, we can replace it for you. Alongside replacing anode rods, we offer several other plumbing services and coupons to ensure we have our clients fully covered. Customers can turn to any of the plumbing experts within the Bonney family, including those at Boyd Plumbing.

Find out more about our water heater services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us.