Atwood RV water heater is producing rotten egg smell

by Pete

Why my Atwood RV water heaters is producing hot water with a stinky, very unpleasant odor that reminds on rotten egg?

I am using 10 gallon tank size, model Atwood GC10A-4E. How to get rid of this smell? Do I have to flush the whole system? What should I use to kill the odor? I have heard that you can use the acid... but, what kind?

Any suggestions?

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Jun 03, 2018
It's Not the Water Heater, but the Water
by: Anonymous

The smell is a result of the water reacting with the aluminum in the hot water tank which produces hydrogen sulfide gas. This is very common with water that comes from a well, either from a domestic or municipal source. It especially occurs when electricity is used to heat the water, versus LPG or natural gas.

This problem is not unique to RV water heaters but also occurs with household hot water heaters where, again, the water comes from a well.
Draining and flushing as described in the previous comment will clear the odor.

Also, whenever the RV is being stored, even for just a couple of weeks, draining the hot water tank will help to prevent this problem. Make sure the water heater is completely full before turning it back on.

Dec 14, 2017
I've tried the vinegar treatment 2 x, the peroxide treatment and now the bleach treatment. Why aren't they working
by: Anonymous

I've tried the vinegar treatment 2x, the peroxide treatment and now the bleach treatment. What do I do next?

Oct 12, 2015
Explain what cycle water heater means
by: Anonymous

what does it mean to run the system (cycle water heater) and do you leave the pressure relief valve out when you run the system?

Apr 07, 2014
Still has odor
by: Anonymous

I have cleaned and flushed many times you think you have it water comes out crystal clear and hot water still reeks! Help !

Oct 19, 2010
by: Anonymous

In the Case of a 6 gallon water heater what is the combination of flushing? Is there an anode in the tank? If so, where? I cannot see one. This is an LP/ELECTRIC heater.

May 20, 2010
How to fix the rotten egg smell on RV water heaters
by: Archie

Rotten egg smell coming from your RV water heater is nothing else but the hydrogen sulfide which is the result of the interaction of sulfur, present in your hot water, and released hydrogen due to the electron galvanic action.

The only cure for your Atwood water heater, to remove such a stinky sulphur odor is to flush the whole plumbing system, together with the water heater.

Use the steps below for flushing the unit:

- Turn the main water supply off.
- Drain you Atwood water heater. Reinstall the drain plug.
- Remove the pressure and temperature relief valve.
- As you said that your model is 10-gallon unit, use 6 gallons of vinegar and mix it with 3 gallons of water and pour it into the tank carefully.
- It is important to run the system several times.
- Remove the installed drain plug and drain all the water from your Atwood heater.
- Now it is important to flush the whole system to get rid of all the buildup sediments.
- You can use either air or water pressure to flush the system. Use the pressure and temperature relief valve opening for flushing.
- Make sure all the dirty water is out by checking is the clear water going through the drain opening.
- Once the flushing is done, re-install the pressure and temperature relief valve and drain
- Refill the tank.

Make sure to flush your Atwood water heater at least once a year.

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