Nobody likes water that is smelly or rust-colored. If you are having issues with your watercolor or smell the culprit is most likely your hot water heater.
Why is my water brown
If the water in your hot-water tank is rust-colored or smelly that means you either have corrosion inside the hot-water heater tank or the sacrificial anode rod has failed.
When an anode rod has no sacrificial metal left, it can cause your hot-water heater to rust out, which can eventually cause your hot-water heater to burst. Normally anode rods can last every 3-5 years. Maintaining your hot-water heater and changing these out every so often can save you a lot of money in the long run.
Sacrificial anode rods come in one of three materials: magnesium, Aluminum, or Zinc. The word ‘Sacrificial’ in sacrificial anode rod means that it is sacrificing itself for your hot-water heater. The sacrificial anode rod is what takes the damage so that the steel walls of your hot-water heater and pipes don’t have to. The anode rod will go bad before the water begins to corrode the walls of your hot-water heater.
Before you replace the hot water heater, drain the water out of it and see if the water looks rusty. If it doesn’t then check to see if your house has metal plumbing. The problem could be in the pipes instead if it does.
If you have changed the sacrificial anode rod, drained your hot-water heater, and checked your pipes but you still have brown water. Then the inside of the tank is corroded the entire hot-water heater needs to be replaced.
Smelly water is very unpleasant
A failing sacrificial anode rod may also release hydrogen which creates a smell similar to rotten eggs.
To fix this you will first need to flush the hot-water heater. Flushing or draining a hot-water heater is not a very complicated process. You simply hook a water hose up to the drain nozzle at the bottom and turn the release valve handle. Once the tank is drained mix 2 pints of 3 percent hydrogen peroxide with 40 gallons of water.
If this doesn’t fix the smell, you will need to replace the faulty anode with a new anode.
Sadly, if the smell still doesn’t go away, you will have to replace the entire hot water heater.
To learn how to change out a sacrificial anode rod please check out our article here.