RV water (possibly only the hot water) smells burnt all of a sudden.

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giovanniello

Member
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
13
Location
11542
Hi All,

First off, i should say: I do not have a good sense of smell. So it's really hard for me to determine exactly what's going on. But it seems to me that it is only my hot water that is affected. For the last week, the hot water has been smelling burnt (or something, maybe chemical, I don't know), at least until I run it for a little while.

I have an Atwood GC10A-4E water heater on my 2004 Fleetwood Southwind. To my knowledge, this is the original unit to this rig. It heats up water just fine, and a casual visual inspection of the maintenance panel offers no clues. There is no indication of burning in the flame tube.

The only thing I can think of is that this happened after I installed a Sureflo water accumulator. But if this were the problem, then my cold water would be affected too. It's so strange.

I'm lead to believe that my hot water heater does not need an anode rod since it is supposedly ceramic coated (or something).

I should also note that I recently (about 4 weeks ago) did a full flush of the hot and cold water lines and fresh water holding tank with Camco water system cleaner. All the water seemed fine and dandy after that. This problem began well after flushing.

Does anyone have an advice?

Is there a simple way to clean my hot water tank? (never done that before)

Is there something I'm not thinking of?

I really appreciate any help here since we're full-timing and we're worried we're exposing ourselves to something unhealthy.

Thanks in advance!

-Michael
 

giovanniello

Member
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
13
Location
11542
ALSO, I should note that we only ever use LP to heat our water. I have only owned this rig for 1 month (owned other rigs in the past), but I have never heated on 110v. So maybe that will eliminate some things.

Thanks again!
 

Non-partic

Well-known member
Joined
Jul 27, 2015
Posts
136
I have seen the water turn a grey color but never smell funny. Is the color of your water crystal clear?

The grey water in my lines turned out to be a degrading carbon filter. I don't suppose you have any water line filters on your hot side, which is not common.

Other than that, it's always a good idea to clean your hot water tank every 3 years by mixing a 25% solution of white vinegar and water; and then let it set over night before you flush out.

Note: If you have 10+ year old check valves on your hot water tank, I would replace these and your 2 thermostats as a matter of general service to avoid failure when you are camping. This way you can be assured of getting hot water when you need it the most.
 

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Rene T

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May 20, 2011
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19,796
Location
Farmington NH
Sounds to me like you need to sanitize your entire water system including the fresh water tank and the water heater.
Drain as much of the system that you can. Then add 1/4 cup of bleach for every 15 gallons of fresh water and fill the fresh water tank using this ratio. Then using the water pump, fill the entire system and let it sit for a couple of hours. Then drain as much as you can, flush it out with fresh water and you should be good to go. If there is still a slight smell or taste of the bleach, that will dissipate in a couple of days.
I sanitize mine annually.
 

youracman

Well-known member
Joined
Nov 17, 2015
Posts
309
Location
Denver, CO
In my case........what Rene sez. On my WBGO, it happens after de-winterizing (I use the "pink stuff") unless I do the bleach thing. Once it's sanitized, no smell for the rest of the season.

Just my 'sperience. YMMV, of course.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
76,619
Location
West Palm Beach, FL
If it's a "rotten egg" odor, you have a bacteria in the water heater. It's harmless but the odor is unpleasant. The solution is to sanitize the RV water system. Doing the tank alone is seldom sufficient, so do the entire RV water system.

You will find articles on how to do this in the site RESOURCES section at https://www.rvforum.net/resources/categories/fresh-water-systems.8/
Look for titles with "rotten egg smell" and "water sanitizing"
 

giovanniello

Member
Joined
May 17, 2022
Posts
13
Location
11542
Thanks for the input here guys. I am currently soaking my water heater in vinegar and replacing my 120v heating element. Maybe the fella before me burnt it out. I will report back.
 

Rene T

Site Team
Joined
May 20, 2011
Posts
19,796
Location
Farmington NH
Thanks for the input here guys. I am currently soaking my water heater in vinegar and replacing my 120v heating element. Maybe the fella before me burnt it out. I will report back.
You’ll know when you take it out it will have a small hole through the side of it. If you want to test it,and you don’t have a meter just connect some wires to it and plug it into a outlet AFTER you dtick it a glass of water.
 
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