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Indirect-fired vs. electric water heaters

Cold domestic water in a nearby home has no sulfur smell. The same water going through an electric water heater does have a sulfur smell. Would replacing the electric water heater with an indirect-fired tank lessen the sulfur smell, possibly because the source of the heat will not be higher than boiler water temperature? In other words, does the high surface temperatures of the electric heating elements bring out the sulfur smell?


  • Jamie Hall
    Jamie Hall Member Posts: 22,175
    Unfortunately, no -- the Sulphur smell comes out when the water is heated, no matter how you heat it. There are a number of Sulphur removal systems available to treat the water -- and other often related problems, like iron.
    Br. Jamie, osb
    Building superintendent/caretaker, 7200 sq. ft. historic house museum with dependencies in New England
  • GroundUp
    GroundUp Member Posts: 1,769
    How old is the unit? Have you checked the anode rod?
    bob eckkcopp
  • Hilly
    Hilly Member Posts: 426
    If it's the hot water only from an electric tank as you have explained then it could be the anode like GroundUp mentioned. Switching from the standard magnesium rod to an aluminium one could potentially do the trick. I've encountered it a few times. If electricity is cheap and it's your preferred fuel choice then in the future you could also consider a 'plastic' or "stainless" tank that don't even have anode rods and avoid it all together.
  • bob eck
    bob eck Member Posts: 930
    Yes what Hilly said.
    If you have a boiler when the water heater goes you could consider installing an indirect water heater. Be very careful what brand indirect you use. Get your water quality checked because water can attack SS IDWH. Vaughn makes a plastic IDWH and an Stone Lined IDWH check them out.