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Old 05-18-2021, 09:35 AM   #1
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Quick question on water heater

We camp often, but when gone for a couple of days the water heater develops that sulfur smell when returning. We shut off the CG water supply when leaving and shut off the gas to the water heater. Wondering IF it is OK to leave the water heater running on the gas when the CG water supply is shut off (for a couple of days).
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Old 05-18-2021, 06:19 PM   #2
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Since you're getting a sulfur odor you may want to change the anode rod (providing it has one) from a magnesium one to an aluminum one. I don't think leaving the heater on will help.
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Old 05-18-2021, 06:41 PM   #3
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I agree with the previous reply, the problem is more likely the stagnant water rather than the temperature of the water. In fact, heating the stagnant water for 2 days may even make the problem worse.
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Old 05-18-2021, 06:46 PM   #4
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I agree with the previous reply, the problem is more likely the stagnant water rather than the temperature of the water. In fact, heating the stagnant water for 2 days may even make the problem worse.
Except that the anode rod (an aluminum one still in good shape) really does its job when the heater is on ???
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Old 05-18-2021, 06:51 PM   #5
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Except that the anode rod (still in good shape) really does its job when the heater is on ???
The anode rod just sits there. It does its job continuously. It provides a sacrificial metal to corrode rather than the metal in the tank corroding.
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Old 05-18-2021, 06:55 PM   #6
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Do you get the smell only at one certain camp site?
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:02 PM   #7
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Do get the smell only at one certain camp site?
Destination camper permanently parked here. I drain, flush the tank with bleach and it is very fresh for a couple of weeks. Then, seems like just when we come back after 2-3 days away and with the heater shut down, the odor is on its way once again. The cold water from the CG supply is always as fresh as ever.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:18 PM   #8
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There is bacteria in the water reacting with the anode rod.
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Old 05-18-2021, 07:59 PM   #9
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We camp often, but when gone for a couple of days the water heater develops that sulfur smell when returning. We shut off the CG water supply when leaving and shut off the gas to the water heater. Wondering IF it is OK to leave the water heater running on the gas when the CG water supply is shut off (for a couple of days).
You have an aluminum rod and have bleached the water heater so there has to be sulfur reducing bacteria in the campsite water.
You could try leaving the water heater on. I don't think that will help, but is worth a try. Turn the water supply off at your trailer.
Leaving the water sit for a couple of days allows the bacteria to flourish, causing the smell.
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Old 05-18-2021, 08:46 PM   #10
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One way to prevent the hydrogen sulfide smell is to use a zinc or aluminum-zinc alloy anode rod.

The reason is that zinc doesn’t react the same way with bacteria as magnesium or aluminum (by itself). Using zinc will reduce the chances of you getting hydrogen sulfide in your water heater.
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Old 05-19-2021, 12:02 PM   #11
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One way to prevent the hydrogen sulfide smell is to use a zinc or aluminum-zinc alloy anode rod.

The reason is that zinc doesnít react the same way with bacteria as magnesium or aluminum (by itself). Using zinc will reduce the chances of you getting hydrogen sulfide in your water heater.
Thanks, I ordered these: Rv Heater Anode Rod 2 Pack Eau Aluminum/Zinc Rv Hot Water Tank Anode Rod Suburban and Morflo - 9.25''Long & 3/4'' Thread - Long Lasting Tank Corrosion Protection
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Old 05-19-2021, 12:06 PM   #12
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That should help.
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Old 05-19-2021, 02:19 PM   #13
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We also have a destination trailer, permanently sited. We usually are there at least every other week in non-freezing weather. Fortunately our water is always fresh--never have the sulfur problem.

But let me ask one thing: Why not simply bypass and drain the heater each time you leave? It only takes a few minutes to do this on leaving, and to refill it on arrival.
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Old 05-19-2021, 02:25 PM   #14
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Had that issue a few times. I would drain and flush the heater tank for a quick fix. For a longer lasting solution, I flushed with some chlorine in the water. Now I switch bypass valves to normal before sanitizing when I dewinterize.
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Old 05-19-2021, 02:30 PM   #15
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We also have a destination trailer, permanently sited. We usually are there at least every other week in non-freezing weather. Fortunately our water is always fresh--never have the sulfur problem.

But let me ask one thing: Why not simply bypass and drain the heater each time you leave? It only takes a few minutes to do this on leaving, and to refill it on arrival.
That would not be that difficult, except we are only gone for 1-2 nights at most.
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Old 05-19-2021, 04:35 PM   #16
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I would try another bleach soak first. Let it soak in there for the whole 2 days your are gone. If it comes back, then try the new anode.
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Old 05-19-2021, 11:50 PM   #17
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Sulfur Smell

You might want to try an inline water filter also. We had the same problem at our campground during busy weekends where more people are using the well water(we are docked seasonally). A quick solution might be the

Hydrolife HL-180. Works better than most and lasts the season.
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Old 05-20-2021, 06:04 AM   #18
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A quick solution might be the
Hydrolife HL-180. Works better than most and lasts the season.
This filter contains activated carbon which is generally good if your water source is a public one, but if your source is well water or any other water that contains no chlorine, it is not a good idea, especially when it will be outside and subject to the sun and heat. Activated carbon/charcoal is a breeding ground for bacteria, so it can actually make the water smell worse due to the increase in bacteria. Many, if not most of the campgrounds I have been to use well water as their source.

I sell and install water treatment systems, just like many other plumbers, and we all know to not sell or install a system that incorporates activated carbon/charcoal on a well system.

EDIT: I will add that sometimes, in a residential setting with well water, a carbon system can be used for certain contaminants if necessary, but it requires the installation/use of a UV light system after the carbon to kill the bacteria created by the carbon. UV systems are expensive and very fragile and would very likely not stand-up to the abuse they would take in an RV. The bulb must be replaced annually and usually the glass sleeve that separates the bulb from the water must be replaced at the same time, but not always.

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Old 05-20-2021, 06:22 AM   #19
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Usually the sulfur smell is due to the campground water reacting in the water heater. The others have good ideas but the smell will probably be back if you camp often at the same places.

I do have to say we have had 5 campers over 35 years and never had the issue.

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Old 05-20-2021, 06:31 AM   #20
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Usually the sulfur smell is due to the campground water reacting in the water heater. The others have good ideas but the smell will probably be back if you camp often at the same places.

I do have to say we have had 5 campers over 35 years and never had the issue.

X 2 and I do drain mine after every trip. Later RJD
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