Indirect Water Heater w/Smelly Water

The Tank Indirect Water Heater w/Smelly Water

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  • #8425

    Hi –

    Fantastic site! I have learned a tone just by surfing. But, I still have an unresolved question or two that may be best answered by posting.

    Our 2001 house has a SuperStor SS-60 Indirect water heater (we’ve been owners for ~ 18 months). We originally noticed last year that there is a sulfer-like smell in the water and then found the root cause when we drained water residing in the tank. The drained water started as a green-brown color (I assume b/c of sediment?) and then stayed slightly green, all the while keeping an awful sulfer-like smell (it was worse at the beginning of the draining). The tank was drained a couple of days ago, and then again today, and it was the same sequence of colored water (brown to green) and smell. Not sure what’s going on. We tested the incoming city water via the cold spigot on the tank, and it’s super clean. We are not sure how regimented the previous owner was on flushing the tank.

    I’ve read a lot about anode corrosion, bacteria dying off and dropping to the bottom by the heat, etc. The SS-60 doesn’t look like it has an anode based on a cross section picture I’ve seen (, but maybe it doesn’t dangle from the top of the tank(?).

    So my questions are, what do you think is the logical course of action? I’m not sure if a new anode would solve the problem, assuming it has one. Or maybe it will, as others have testified. And regarding the green-brown water observed at the beginning of the draining, it seems like the tank inside should be cleaned big time, but don’t know how this would be done. I don’t believe the source of smelly water comes from the boiler, but is that a possibility?

    I really appreciate the help. Thanks guys.

    – Greg



    I also doubt the unit has an anode. That’s the whole reason for 316L stainless; you don’t have to worry about corrosion/rust.

    I also would not suspect the boiler. Copper-nickel heat exchangers have been used a lot even in salt water environments.

    Flushing sounds good. The cut-away shows the copper-nickel tube down in the bottom so flushing there may be hard to do.

    When I began work in 1980 at a commercial nuclear power plant, I noticed the emergency stainless steel water tanks for drinking water were valved out and had been for years I suppose. The water inside was terrrible. I flushed the tanks and rewrote the valve line up so the tanks were valved in rather than out. This way the water did not stagnant in the tanks.


    Larry Weingarten

    Hello: I agree flushing is a good idea. Also, I’d get a water quality report and see that all is OK. Possibly, water is acidic, causing damage to copper plumbing (green water). Another thing to consider is a one time treatment with hydrogen peroxide to kill off any residual bacteria. Water usage should be one tank volume per day, more or less. If the volume of the tank isn’t turned over enough, odor will be a persistant problem 😕

    Yours, Larry


    Thanks for the replies, Larry and David! Very informative. I’m definitely grateful.

    – Greg

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