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Thread: Smelly Plumbing

  1. #1
    Stephen G Sheldon's Avatar
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    Default Smelly Plumbing

    Inspected a new house (has been vacant for 2 years) where there was an overpowering sulpher-like smell when turning on the hot water fixtures. Any thoughts on what might be causing this?

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  2. #2
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
    Ted Menelly Guest

    Default Re: Smelly Plumbing

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G Sheldon View Post
    Inspected a new house (has been vacant for 2 years) where there was an overpowering sulpher-like smell when turning on the hot water fixtures. Any thoughts on what might be causing this?
    More than likely the water heater
    Water heaters are pretty nasty creatures. I don't know if you ever replaced one or drained one but if you have I am sure you saw all that nasty sludge on the bottom.

    Even without that just think of the water hanging in that tank for a couple years and not being flushed thru. Pretty nasty

    Last edited by Ted Menelly; 07-21-2010 at 08:36 AM.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
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    Default Re: Smelly Plumbing

    Do a search on this site for Hot Water odor. Also try a Google search and you will find a ton of information. Very common.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  4. #4
    Elliot Franson's Avatar
    Elliot Franson Guest

    Default Re: Smelly Plumbing

    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen G Sheldon View Post
    Inspected a new house (has been vacant for 2 years) where there was an overpowering sulpher-like smell when turning on the hot water fixtures. Any thoughts on what might be causing this?
    Hydrogen sulfide - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    Caledon, Ontario
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    5,005

    Default Re: Smelly Plumbing

    Sulphite reducing bacteria, common in well water, it thrives in an anaerobic environment. Hot water heaters give it the ideal evnviron to flourish.

    Well can be chlorinated and the hot water tank to temporarily kill it, but it will return often in weeks.

    http://www.infrastructure.alberta.ca...TechPres19.pdf

    Sulfates, Hydrogen Sulfide, Rotten Egg Odor, Sulfur , Sulfate Reducing Bacteria in Drinking Water Testing Analysis Treatment


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Snowbird (this means I'm retired and migrate between locations), FL/MI
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    Default Re: Smelly Plumbing

    I would expect whole-house system disinfection of the water plumbing system would be recommended anytime a home had been vacant for a sustained period (one big plumbing dead-end) and/or winterized.

    If not on a chlorinated public water supply, this can be accomplished by using a chlorine bleach solution or hydrogen peroxide.

    Flushing for sustained period can sometimes do with a chlorinated public water supply, but not as effective with non-copper plumbing.

    Having set storage type water heater temperatures to low, vacation mode or pilot only often done as a safety measure to avoid build-up of hydrogen gas in the plumbing system.

    Strange odors can quickly develop when a sacrificial anode has deteriorated.

    Water treatment system or filter could be fouled.

    Cross-over contamination, syphoning, i.e. fouling from waste or ground water.

    May be a condition of the water supply (as mentioned iron reducing bacteria, mineral content, other contamination, aquafer, etc.).


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