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Blue Water and sand in the tub

July 27, 2013

If you have smelly water or the water is blue, this may help. Info is from A.O Smith.




SYMPTOMS   “Crackling”, “gurgling”, or “popping” noises from new water heaters (installed less than six months).

CAUSE             In a few isolated parts of the United States where the water supply has a relatively high pH (8+), water conditions will react with the aluminum anode to form excessive amounts of aluminum hydroxide on the anode and in the bottom of the tank.

Aluminum hydroxide looks like  “jelly beads” or a green, blue or gray gel like substance in the heater drain or at faucet aerators.




This procedure should only be performed by someone with abilities equal to a licensed tradesman. Aluminum hydroxide can be removed by using one of the methods  outlined.

  If tank is new with no lime build-up to any degree:
1 Turn off the heater.
2 Remove the anode.
3 Flush the tank thoroughly with water.
4 Replace the aluminum anode (identifiable by smooth surface on plug) with magnesium

anode (identifiable by weld bead on plug).

If the tank is new with lime build-up to any degree:
1 Turn off the heater.
2 Drain the heater.
3 Remove the anode.
4 Add UN-LIME to the tank.

20-40 gallon models (use 3 gallons of UN-LIME) 41-65 gallon models (use 5 gallons of UN-LIME) 66-100 gallon models (use 7 gallons of UN-LIME)

(On electric models, be certain the lower element is immersed in solution.)

5 Heat the UN-LIME to a temperature between 140°F to 160°F.
  • GAS - Heat for 7 to 10 minutes.
  • ELECTRIC - Power off and remove the yellow wire from terminal 2 on the upper

thermostat. Move the red wire from terminal 4 of the upper thermostat to terminal 2 of the

upper thermostat. This allows operation of the lower element only. Restore power to the heater. Be certain that only the lower element is operating. Heat for 7 to 10 minutes.

6 Shut off the water heater.
7 Allow the heated UN-LIME to stand for up to 12 minutes.
8 Drain and flush the tank.  Caution:  UN-LIME will still be hot.
9 Replace the original aluminum anode with a magnesium anode.
10 Fill the system with water.
11 On electric models, return the wiring to its original configuration.
12 Turn heater fuel “ON”.


NOTE               Since aluminum hydroxide is a product of a chemical reaction dependent on the water condition, any treatment is not considered warranty related.

Printed in USA  498                                                                                                                                             Part No. TC-201-14

And for smelly water:




CAUSE                The most common cause of “smelly water” is a non-toxic sulfate reducing bacteria, scientifically termed Divibrio Sulfurcans. This bacteria often enters the water system through construction or a break in ground piping.  The

bacteria creates the energy it needs to survive by converting sulfate(SO4) to hydrogen sulfide(H2S) gas you smell in the water.

Hydrogen sulfide gas is distinctive because of its rotten egg-like stench.  Its presence can severely affect the taste as well as the odor of the water. Occasionally this bacteria can be accompanied by black deposits, the result of pipe and fitting corrosion.  In extremely high concentrations, hydrogen sulfide gas can be toxic though the gas is detectable long before harmful levels are reached.

The requirements for the bacteria to thrive are: a) an elevated level of sulfur in the water, b) activated hydrogen from cathodic reactions within the tank, c) water with little or no dissolved oxygen, d) and temperatures below 138°F.

Items that can increase the potential for this bacteria are:

a) water softeners,

b)  well water, c) and long periods of no water movement. Other factors that may contribute to smelly water:

  • Chlorides of Magnesium and Calcium leave a bitter taste.
  • Chloride of Sodium produces a salty taste.
  • Sulfates (50 ppm) gives a medicinal taste.
  • Carbon Dioxide in a low pH water gives fizzy water.
  • Iron and tannic waters also give a bad taste and odor.

TREATMENT     The simplest treatment available is the shock-chlorination of the system.  This is a surface treatment, and often requires repeated trials in heavily infected systems.  The chlorination of a system requires that you follow each step explicitly to avoid an un-treated portion of the piping system from reinfecting another part. See Bulletin 23 for the chlorination procedure. Longer lasting solutions include chlorination or aeration of the water supply.

NOTE                  Since smelly water is caused by a bacteria presence and is not caused by the water heater, any treatment would not be considered warranty related.

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