Water Heater: Why does my hot water smell like rotten eggs?

Certain water conditions cause a reaction between a water heater's anode rod and supply water, causing hydrogen sulfide gas to dissolve in the tank water. The hydrogen sulfide gas gives the water a rotten-egg smell. Installing a less-reactive aluminum alloy anode rod and chlorinating the water supply system eliminates the rotten-egg smell in hot water.

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Replace the water heater anode rod

The anode rod protects the tank from corrosion. A chemical reaction between the supply water and the anode rod can produce hydrogen sulfide gas and cause the hot water to smell like rotten eggs in some conditions. Replace the anode rod with a less-reactive zinc-aluminum anode rod to combat the rotten-egg smell.

Water heater anode rod

Find the required part specific to your product.

July 1, 2015By Lyle Weischwill

How to replace an electric water heater anode rod

Does your hot water smell like rotten eggs? This repair guide and video show how to fix the smell by replacing the water heater anode rod with a zinc-aluminum anode rod.

Repair difficulty
Time required
 15 minutes or less

Symptoms common to all water heaters

Choose a symptom to see related water heater repairs.

Main causes: lack of power, no gas supply, thermostat limit switch tripped, bad element, bad thermostat, gas valve failure, bad thermocouple
Main causes: water supply needs chlorine treatment, anode rod too reactive
Main causes: thermostats need adjustment, water heater capacity too low, bad heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment
Main causes: thermostat temperature set too high, thermostats need adjustment, faulty thermostat, shorted heating element
Main causes: faulty pressure relief valve, water is overheating
Main causes: broken heating element, thermostat failure, excessive tank sediment, tank size too small, burner valve assembly failure
Main causes: loose water pipe fittings, leaky drain valve, bad temperature-pressure relief valve, leaky heating element, cracked tank

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Wiring schematic symbols explained video

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Easy DIY water heater repairs

By Sears PartsDirect staff

Read about some water heater repairs that you can easily do yourself.