Occasional sulphur smell

emery395

Well-known member
Smell comes from shower or sink faucets every other day for a few seconds. I’m only using electric to heat water.
My water source is house where no such smell has ever occurred.
Any ideas of the cause and solutions?
thx.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Hi emery395,

Your water heater manual speaks to the sulphur smell. Here's what Suburban says:

Sulphur water can be caused by a chemical action or by bacteria. The solution to eliminate is chlorination of the water system. Add about six (6) ounces of chlorinated common household liquid bleach to each 10 gallons in the water tank. Then run the chlorinated water throughout the system, opening each faucet one at a time until you smell the chlorine. Let the RV sit for a few days and the chlorine should take care of the problem. Then you will need to take care of the chlorine. Remove the chlorine by flushing the system with fresh water. This may take several attempts. You may consider adding a filtering system that removes chlorine and prevents sulphur water. If the sulphur or rotten egg smell continues, flush the system once again as described above and replace anode rod as necessary.

I believe Atwood has a similar statement with a different solution.
 

emery395

Well-known member
Thanks Dan. What do you suggest as the best way to add the bleach solution into the tank?

We are staying in the unit now so it sure will be inconvenient leaving everything sit for a few days.
 

Fox

Well-known member
Not likely your problem but another possible source of sulfur smells come when charging a weak house battery.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Thanks Dan. What do you suggest as the best way to add the bleach solution into the tank?

We are staying in the unit now so it sure will be inconvenient leaving everything sit for a few days.

If you want to use cold water while the bleach solution works on the water heater only, here's what I would do.


  1. Leave all water fixtures and faucets closed.
  2. Turn off power to the water heater and allow it to cool. To speed things up you can run the hot water in the shower until it comes out cold. Then wait a little for residual heat in the tank to dissipate.
  3. Connect a 5-6 foot piece of garden hose with a male end to the water inlet. (This requires you disconnect the water supply to the coach).
  4. Mix your bleach solution in a bucket
  5. Set the Anderson Valve to Winterize/Sanitze position.
  6. Put the hose end into the bucket.
  7. Remove the cover on the outside wall of the water heater.
  8. Open the pressure relieve valve at the top of the water heater. Leave it open.
  9. Remove the anode rod from the bottom and let the tank drain.
  10. Use a cleaning wand or other water cleaning tool to force residue out of the bottom of the tank.
  11. Replace the anode rod. (You'll be taking it out again later.)
  12. Turn on the water pump.
  13. With all faucets and fixtures closed, the water heater tank should be filled with the bleach solution.
  14. When the solution starts coming out of the pressure relieve valve, turn off the pump.
  15. Close the pressure relieve valve.
  16. Set the water heater bypass valve(s) to bypass so the bleach solution doesn't get pushed through the water system as you use the cold water.
  17. Disconnect the short hose and reconnect campground water.
  18. Turn the 4-way valve back to CITY.

At this point, the bleach solution will mostly be in the water heater tank, with a small amount in the surrounding area. With the water heater bypassed, you should be able to flush the residual bleach out of the water system and then use the cold water only throughout the day.


  1. Let the bleach sit for a while in the water heater - I'd give it at least 6 hours.
  2. Open the pressure relief valve and remove the anode rod again so the bleach solution drains out of the water heater tank.
  3. After draining, leave the pressure relief open and replace the anode rod.
  4. Reverse the water heater bypass so campground water fills the water heater tank again. When it starts coming out the pressure relief valve, either turn off the water or bypass the water heater.
  5. Remove the anode rod again and drain the tank.
  6. Repeat at least once more to remove the bleach taste and smell.
  7. With water off, or water heater bypassed, put the anode rod back in. If it's deteriorated, put in a new rod. Use Teflon tape on the threads.
  8. Turn water on or put the bypass back to normal so the tank fills until water comes out the relief valve.
  9. Close the pressure relief valve.
  10. Make sure the water heater bypass is in the normal position.
  11. Turn power on for the water heater.
  12. Run water through faucets and fixtures and hopefully you won't have any residual chlorine smell.

Note that this procedure doesn't sanitize the entire coach or the fresh tank. But you'll be able to use water while the chlorine works on the water heater.
 

JohnDar

Prolifically Gabby Member
Pull the anode rod out of the (cold & empty) water heater and examine it. If it is covered in a white slime, you have bacteria in your system.

Another question is are your tank dump valves being left open while you use the rig. This runs the risk of the P-traps running dry and sewer gases backing up into the trailer. When you run the water, it blocks it out.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

emery395

Well-known member
Sewer and grey tank valves are kept closed.

Dan, from your reply am I to assume that it is the hot water tank which is most likely the source of the bacteria.


Do we know how this bacteria affects humans and how to cure any symptoms
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
Sewer and grey tank valves are kept closed.

Dan, from your reply am I to assume that it is the hot water tank which is most likely the source of the bacteria.


Do we know how this bacteria affects humans and how to cure any symptoms

There are many thousands of different strains of bacteria, some beneficial, some harmful. For example, your gut is full of bacteria that your body needs.

But if the campground water, or a faucet has been contaminated with harmful bacteria, bleach should take care of it, along with the smell.

If the water smells like sulphur, even at your house, it's likely the water heater. But if you want, you can sanitize the entire water system by opening faucets while pumping in the bleach solution.

To sanitize the fresh tank is a little different as you'll have to set the 4 way valve to TANK and 'push' the solution into the tank, rather than use the Winterize/Sanitize setting. You can fill your water hose with bleach and use the campground water supply to push the hose contents into the fresh tank.
 

CoveredWagon

Well-known member
We have the same issue when we return to our FL house after it’s been sitting a few months. I was offered all kinds of solutions, but found if I just ran a LOT, read that as a lot of cold water (heater off), through the heater it cleared out. Granted the hot water tank in the house is 40 gallons. For the Rv the first thing I would do is flush the hot water heater. You do have a flushing wand right ? 😉
 

emery395

Well-known member
thank you for the inputs.

My water heater does not have anode rod. We do not use fresh water tank, have always been hooked to city.

Guess bleach rinse is the only option.
 

danemayer

Moderator
Staff member
thank you for the inputs.

My water heater does not have anode rod. We do not use fresh water tank, have always been hooked to city.

Guess bleach rinse is the only option.
If there's no anode rod, you must have an Atwood Water Heater. Suggest you look in the Atwood manual for their instructions on cleaning.
 
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