Welcome! Here are the website rules, as well as some tips for using this forum.
Need to contact us? Visit https://heatinghelp.com/contact-us/.
Click here to Find a Contractor in your area.

New water heater installed, hot water smells like oil

A licensed plumber's crew installed a new water heater three weeks ago. The hot water smelled like oil for a couple of weeks. It's lessened now, but I suspect it's still there somewhere and I worry about this. I'm a senior woman alone and I need advice. I also worry about an effect on my health. This is in a mobile home, so the heater had to be converted to gas from propane, but the conversion kit was included for this. (Common type for mobile homes.) I suspect a mistake and contamination during the installation, but I'm not a plumber. Any advice about what I should do now will be much appreciated.


  • hot_rod
    hot_rod Member Posts: 18,208
    Does the room or location smell, or is it when you run hot water that it smells?
    Bob "hot rod" Rohr
    trainer for Caleffi NA
    Living the hydronic dream
  • merrymerry
    merrymerry Member Posts: 4
    It is the hot water that smells, in every faucet. The plumber had me run each faucet full blast with the hot water for 10 minutes each, for three days in a row, obviously draining the tank. The smell has dissipated some, but I still smell it faintly. I don't know whether to let it go, or to call a local plumber for a second opinion, or to go to the county and admit no one got a permit, but ask for an inspection. Do any of those options sound appropriate? Thanks for replying.
  • neilc
    neilc Member Posts: 2,086
    edited January 2022
    can you post pictures ? boiler, domestic tank, and the piPes between them, w/ close up on tank connections for labeling,
    sure sounds like they mixed up piping and the boiler water may be in your domestic
    known to beat dead horses
  • merrymerry
    merrymerry Member Posts: 4
    I'm afraid I don't know how to post photos, and I don't know what the "pies" between them means. Isn't the boiler water the actual hot water that is expected to be in my domestic water? Sorry I am so confused. I'm far from a plumber or even a handy-person!
  • Larry Weingarten
    Larry Weingarten Member Posts: 2,782
    edited January 2022
    Hi, Do you know if any galvanized steel fittings might have been used? Also I’ve known people to use oils or solvents on pipe threads. Even a drop or two getting into the water can smell bad. A thought is to use a dilution with TSP to clean out tank and piping, but this would have to be done with care and flushed thoroughly before you could use any hot water.

    Yours, Larry
  • merrymerry
    merrymerry Member Posts: 4
    I'm afraid I have no idea. I didn't watch the install, of course, as the water heater is behind the home in a little closet. My usual handyman (not the installer) is coming tomorrow morning for a few other chores. I will ask him to look at the install and about galvanized steel fitting, solvents or oils. He's done some water heater installs himself, but I wanted to use a licensed plumber for this. Should have used him, I suspect! Anyway, I will post what I find out. Thanks, Larry, for your help.
    EBEBRATT-Ed Member Posts: 13,121

    I would suggest that because it is dissipating that is a good sign. You could continue the way your are and see if it continues to dissipate. I wouldn't drink it or use hot for cooking.

    I think @Larry Weingarten who is our resident hot water heater expert has the right idea.

    Maybe the best bet would be to contact the water heater mfg, explain the problem and ask them about if they recommend flushing and about any chemicals to use.

    Maybe bleach or vinegar or TSP?

    Then you could convince the plumbing company to come back at no charge to take care of this

    Larry Weingarten
    HVACNUT Member Posts: 4,860
    I recently serviced an electric water heater in a mobile home where the main domestic hot and cold piping is galvanized. 
    The electric was aluminum so early 70's I guess. 
    Not sure if that's your issue but the smell should be gone by now. Have they flushed the new tank?