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Clorox Bleach in a water heater ..........

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Oct 21, 2019 - 9:48:31 PM
9036 posts since 1/15/2005

Rotten egg odor coming from our water heater in basement bathroom closet. I knew what the problem was, so I went out and bought a new anode rod and a gallon of Clorox bleach. After cutting off the power to the heater and draining the tank, I refilled the tank and added a gallon of Clorox (40 gallon tank) and installed a new anode rod, I filled tank. I let the Clorox solution sit in the tank for a couple of hours and then turned all of the hot water faucets that this heater serviced. The hot water foamed and looked like it was a washing detergent, not bleach (but it smelled like bleach). I let the faucets run for approx. 30 to 45 minutes. The Clorox odor subsided eventually and all day yesterday, although there was no Clorox odor, the hot water still foamed. It mostly subsided today but still traces of foam.

I went to the garbage can to check the Clorox label and make sure I had not gotten a Clorox laundry detergent instead of bleach. I have done this about 4 times with Clorox before and never got the first hint of foam .... the Clorox odor, but no foam. The only thing the label said that I thought might be different was that it said "No Splash Formula". Anyone else ever done this or had experience with "No Splash Formula" Clorox?

Oct 22, 2019 - 5:38:34 AM

8948 posts since 8/22/2006

Rotten egg smell? I always heard that meant sulfur was getting into the water supply. My mother had a camp house in South Louisiana that had that rotten egg smell all the time. Even when the cold water tap was turned on. Open the tank drain and leave the supply side turned on for awhile. Are you on a well or municipal water system?

Oct 22, 2019 - 8:06:22 AM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by 5B-Ranch

Rotten egg smell? I always heard that meant sulfur was getting into the water supply. My mother had a camp house in South Louisiana that had that rotten egg smell all the time. Even when the cold water tap was turned on. Open the tank drain and leave the supply side turned on for awhile. Are you on a well or municipal water system?


I'm on city water ...... from one of the best water sources in the country.  The sulfur odor can come from the water, like near the beach on the coast of the Carolinas, but even there it is not nearly as bad as it used to be.  Some water systems in that area now have sulfur burners that remove much of the sulfur from the water.  In my case I knew exactly what it was from and when I pulled the old anode rod from the tank, it was covered with white mineral deposits and some of the rod was even gone.  The odoir is now gone.

Oct 22, 2019 - 8:50:37 AM

867 posts since 8/7/2017

When our hot water gets whimpy, the plumber usually discovers that corrosion has eaten away one of the 2 electrodes in the tank. We have well water, very hard, and rusty due to rust in the well casing. Also, the electrodes get coated with carbonates, which insulate the heating elements from the water. The electrodes than over-heat and die.

Looking at the tank and electrode when it's been drained, I see all sorts of organic growth inside, I think (clear gelatinous goop stuck to walls, white patches too). I brush my teeth with warm water, so I"m exposed to the goop etc, but I've never gotten sick, far as I know.

If your hot water tank had organic matter inside, the Clorox would kill it, but the dead critters would release whatever lipids were inside their cells. These could cause the foaming you saw, perhaps. Once the tank has been flushed of all the dead cells, the foaming would stop, I expect.

We get sulphery hot water once or twice a year, lasts a day or three, then goes away. I put it down to disturbance in the critters living in the system, maybe a seasonal thing with the change in water temperature (well is only 50 feet deep, so winter water is much colder than summer water).

We've Cloroxed our well a couple times to kill bacteria. The Clorox riles up the rust (or makes more), and the water system takes about a week to clear itself of the red oxide. The Health Dept says to sterilize wells more frequently. We don't get sick very often, so we've either developed immunity to the local bugs, or the well is cleaner than Health Dept thinks :-) We've been drinking the water for 30 years....I do have green skin and webbing, but spray paint and special gloves keep me from scaring the locals..beep beep.

Hope this helps, or at least gives you a smile.

Oct 22, 2019 - 9:10:21 AM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by BrooksMT

When our hot water gets whimpy, the plumber usually discovers that corrosion has eaten away one of the 2 electrodes in the tank. We have well water, very hard, and rusty due to rust in the well casing. Also, the electrodes get coated with carbonates, which insulate the heating elements from the water. The electrodes than over-heat and die.

Looking at the tank and electrode when it's been drained, I see all sorts of organic growth inside, I think (clear gelatinous goop stuck to walls, white patches too). I brush my teeth with warm water, so I"m exposed to the goop etc, but I've never gotten sick, far as I know.

If your hot water tank had organic matter inside, the Clorox would kill it, but the dead critters would release whatever lipids were inside their cells. These could cause the foaming you saw, perhaps. Once the tank has been flushed of all the dead cells, the foaming would stop, I expect.

We get sulphery hot water once or twice a year, lasts a day or three, then goes away. I put it down to disturbance in the critters living in the system, maybe a seasonal thing with the change in water temperature (well is only 50 feet deep, so winter water is much colder than summer water).

We've Cloroxed our well a couple times to kill bacteria. The Clorox riles up the rust (or makes more), and the water system takes about a week to clear itself of the red oxide. The Health Dept says to sterilize wells more frequently. We don't get sick very often, so we've either developed immunity to the local bugs, or the well is cleaner than Health Dept thinks :-) We've been drinking the water for 30 years....I do have green skin and webbing, but spray paint and special gloves keep me from scaring the locals..beep beep.

Hope this helps, or at least gives you a smile.


Thanks Brooks.  We were on well water for about ten or fifteen years when we first moved into this house and our water was loaded with iron (red mud).  We could hardly buy any white clothing as it always turned dingy after a few washings.  Our well was about the same depth as yours.  Since we have gone to city water that problem has gone away.

We have not had any problems at all with our elements getting coated with anything destructive.  The reason the anode rod in in the tank is to attract all of the corrosive minerals that may be in the water and to keep them from corroding the metal sides of the tank, and I would guess the elements too.  I have replaced the elements once or twice as well as the switches (thermostats).  I guess water heaters have a life cycle, but it seems like to me if you replace the anode rod when needed and the thermostats and elements when they go bad, there is not much else that can go wrong.

Oct 22, 2019 - 9:31:41 AM

O.D.

USA

3365 posts since 10/29/2003

Got to watch the labels on bleach
We use Regular Clorox
Had the foam issue previously. They have a variety ,scented,no splash ,etc. Regular is in the minority now a days
If you keep the heater at 140 or above there should not be any bacteria.

Everett

Oct 22, 2019 - 9:34:08 AM

269 posts since 9/21/2018
Online Now

"No Splash" probably has a thickening agent in it to give it a really thin gel-like consistency. I'd almost bet it IS some sort of detergent style additive being that most folk are cleaning with it, it would go rather unnoticed. Might have to fill and drain with fresh water a few times to get it all out.

Oct 22, 2019 - 12:06:32 PM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

Thanks guys. I think you are right about the "gel -like" consistency, although I could not tell it while I was pouring it in a funnel. As I have always done, I just picked up the big white bottle that said Clorox. I am not even sure now that the store had the regular Clorox .... probably did and I just missed it. Never knew there were new and improved versions.

O.D., I'll check but I think we keep this water heater at 150. I guess we are just bound to get some bacteria regardless. Changing the anode rod is a little bit of a pain, but once every five or so years is not too bad.

Oct 22, 2019 - 2:38:43 PM

O.D.

USA

3365 posts since 10/29/2003

You would need the hot elements not normally found in household heaters
We have 160 + in the barn in 2 units.
Houseolds are typically 140 eliments ,far as I know,however the higher eliments are available,but not recommended for home use due to scalding potential.
Bacteria is killed at 140 degrees,per my research.

Everett

Oct 22, 2019 - 4:56:21 PM

Buddur

USA

2687 posts since 10/23/2004

Thanks for reminding me. Been needing to disinfect my water heater tank.

I drain the tank every month to keep up with sediment from the well, and the heater purge water has been looking like it needs treated.

Oct 22, 2019 - 5:12:34 PM

Owen

Canada

4230 posts since 6/5/2011
Online Now

 
Originally posted by Buddur


<snip> ...I drain the tank every month to keep up with sediment  <snip>


Nothing to do with Chlorox, but... Is there any reason the bottom of the tank shouldn't be convex ... i.e. dome outward with the drain hole being at the lowest part of the tank? 

On our farm, the house tank [sitting conventionally, concave bottom] collected scale in the bottom seam, leading to premature corrosion....almost impossible to clean well.  So, for the dairy barn, I ditched the anode and installed the tank upside down [I think I also disconnected one element].  .... Much easier to clean and 15+ years without corrosion problems.   So, I'm wondering why this [upside down] way isn't the accepted standard.

Re. overheating... shouldn't the thermostat prevent overheating regardless of the wattage of the element(s)?

Oct 22, 2019 - 9:22:45 PM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by O.D.

You would need the hot elements not normally found in household heaters
We have 160 + in the barn in 2 units.
Houseolds are typically 140 eliments ,far as I know,however the higher eliments are available,but not recommended for home use due to scalding potential.
Bacteria is killed at 140 degrees,per my research.

Everett


Not sure, but I remember that I turned my water heater under the house (we have two water heaters) to 125 degrees to keep the hot water from burning our children.  However, after the children were grown and gone from the home it seemed like we were always running out of hot water when more than two people took showers when they came home to visit.  It was odd, but at 125 degrees, it took too much hot water from the heater mixing with cold water, so that the hot water would just run out.  I turned the hot water on that heater up to 150 and we never had that problem again.

One of my water heaters is 40 years old and I think goes up to 150 degrees.  I think you are right that the newer ones only go up to 140.  I think they recommend setting them at 120, but I know that when I turned the one under the house up we never had any more complaints about the shower water getting cold.

Edited by - BanjoLink on 10/22/2019 21:30:45

Oct 23, 2019 - 4:13:15 AM

O.D.

USA

3365 posts since 10/29/2003

Hi John
From what I've experienced running out of hot water could be from a bad eliments or from not enough volume.
At the house I have an indirect system that works with the furnace. No electric or gas. It's a separate zone heat loop that heats the water in a 60 gallon thermos
At the farm we use an 80 and 40 gallons in tandom for the milk pipeline
Does the job

Glad the Clorox does the job for you. We use it as a sanitizer as well

Evetett

Oct 23, 2019 - 9:06:43 AM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

Everett ..... it was definitely the temperature of the water and was immediately corrected when I turned the temperature up. It makes sense that you use less hotter water when mixed with cold at 140 or 150 degrees as opposed to 120. I would not have thought it would have made as much difference as it did. Plus that water heater was relatively new and did not suspect it was the elements.

When my older water heater's elements go bad, I first notice it in the shower when I have to turn the single knob further in the "hot" direction than normal and continue to have to turn it to keep the same temperature.

Oct 23, 2019 - 9:19 AM

O.D.

USA

3365 posts since 10/29/2003

Glad that you figured it out
No cost solutions are better then the other alternatives

Everett

Oct 23, 2019 - 10:15:20 AM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by O.D.

Glad that you figured it out
No cost solutions are better then the other alternatives

Everett


You are not kidding!  I'm too cheap to pay someone to do things that I can do or figure out.  Sometimes I have to learn things the hard way though!  I do value the advice I have gotten about things like this here on the Hangout!

Oct 23, 2019 - 2:05:09 PM
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3181 posts since 12/6/2009

water heater eliments are rated by watts not temperature. Thermostats are used and adjusted to control temperature There are several 170 degree rated thermostats for residential heaters...thats only a rateing...if a water heater is set at say 125 degrees...then thats where the heater eliment will shut off no matter how large or small the eliment is... If water heater fails to heat properly or stays cold its usually an eliment....if it runs wild hot then its a thermostat....thats why they have expansion valves on those suckers....

Oct 23, 2019 - 2:15:39 PM

O.D.

USA

3365 posts since 10/29/2003

quote:
Originally posted by overhere

water heater eliments are rated by watts not temperature. Thermostats are used and adjusted to control temperature There are several 170 degree rated thermostats for residential heaters...thats only a rateing...if a water heater is set at say 125 degrees...then thats where the heater eliment will shut off no matter how large or small the eliment is... If water heater fails to heat properly or stays cold its usually an eliment....if it runs wild hot then its a thermostat....thats why they have expansion valves on those suckers....


That's correct over here 

I should have made myself more clear 

Oct 23, 2019 - 8:38:05 PM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by overhere

water heater eliments are rated by watts not temperature. Thermostats are used and adjusted to control temperature There are several 170 degree rated thermostats for residential heaters...thats only a rateing...if a water heater is set at say 125 degrees...then thats where the heater eliment will shut off no matter how large or small the eliment is... If water heater fails to heat properly or stays cold its usually an eliment....if it runs wild hot then its a thermostat....thats why they have expansion valves on those suckers....


That's right , but I did not take anything OD wrote to imply it was the elements that were rated.  I've always called the valve on top a "pressure relief" valve, which is the same as an expansion valve.  I have specified pressure relief valves on irrigation systems for years ..... saved many a system from blowing pipes out of the ground!

Oct 24, 2019 - 3:03:32 AM

3181 posts since 12/6/2009

T&P valves used on residential water heaters are typically designed and manufactured to relieve pressure at 150 psi and temperature at 210 degrees F. so in my estimation the thermostat would be the vital piece of equipment to make sure is working properly.
You can get an idea of function by slowly turning setting knob on thermostat up and down and listening for a click….click down it comes on click up it shuts off. Not fool proof but a simple test.

Oct 24, 2019 - 8:28:34 AM

9036 posts since 1/15/2005

quote:
Originally posted by overhere

T&P valves used on residential water heaters are typically designed and manufactured to relieve pressure at 150 psi and temperature at 210 degrees F. so in my estimation the thermostat would be the vital piece of equipment to make sure is working properly.
You can get an idea of function by slowly turning setting knob on thermostat up and down and listening for a click….click down it comes on click up it shuts off. Not fool proof but a simple test.


Many people do not understand the importance of making sure components of any kind of a pressurized system is working properly.  I have seen pump houses blow up because the owner did not want to spend a few more bucks on a higher rated pressure tank or a pressure relief valve.  I have also seen a pressure tank shoot through the side of a building like a rocket when it built up too much pressure.  Both of these we on golf course irrigation systems.  IT is amazing what corners some people will cut to save a few dollars.

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