Are you smelling a strong odor coming from your heater especially when it is operational? If yes then that is a red flag that should worry you. A possible reason your heater smells like rotten eggs could be actually hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, flammable gas that is highly dangerous. Unlike other gas, hydrogen sulfide does not dissolve in water. Therefore, when you turn your heater on, the gas usually escapes into the air and that is why you smell that unpleasant rotten egg odor.

Red flags to Look Out for

1. Smell of Rotten Egg

If your heater smells like rotten egg, then that is a serious course of alarm. Worlock Air Conditioning says the smell of rotten eggs could mean that there is a possible gas leak. You should immediately evacuate your home then call an expert to come check and fix the problem.

2. A Burning or Dusty Smell

Another red flag that you should watch out for is burning or dusty smell coming our room your heater. If the problem persists for a long period of time, then it means that a lot of dust has accumulated on the heat and is preventing it from functioning properly. You can fix this problem by changing the clogged air filters. However, if the problem persist, call your HVAC technician immediately to fix the problem.

3. Overheating Odors

If you realize that it smells like something is overheating, then possibly it is your heater. There is a high possibility that parts of the heater are getting too hot. If you smell overheating odor, then it means that it could be overloaded or overpowered. You need to shut the heater immediately and call your HVAC expert to check and fix the problem.

How to Get Rid of Rotten Eggs Smell

There is a possibility the smell could be coming from your water heater. There are various techniques that you can use to get rid of rotten egg smell from the heater. They include:

  • Using shock chlorination to disinfect and cleanse water distribution system so as kill sulfur reducing bacteria
  • Ensuring that there is proper water ventilation
  • Replacing water heater anode rod (magnesium and aluminum) that has worn out

Why Your Heater Smells Like Rotten Eggs

When you turn your heater on, the rotten egg smell is usually created when anaerobic bacteria reacts with aluminum and magnesium anodes inside the heater. Hydrogen sulfide gas is usually produced as they react. Anodes are very important components in a water heater. They are actually the component that takes the brunt of the corrosion thus prolonging the lifespan of the heater.

The rotten egg smell is also produced when sulfur reducing bacteria uses sulfur as source of energy. This bacteria is common areas that are oxygen deprived such as water heaters, plumbing system and deep wells. When sulfur reducing bacteria comes into contact with sulfates, they immediately reduce them to hydrogen sulfide hence that foul rotten smell.

Bottom Line:

What should you do if your heater smells like rotten eggs? It is best to turn off your furnace so the problem does not continue without a solution. It is also advisable depending on the problem to temporarily relocate until your heater is fixed. Be sure to also check whether the smell is coming from your furnace/heater, or from your water heater.  

Published by Jason Roy