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posted: 3/17/2013 5:25 AM

Anode rods cause hot water odor

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Q. Regarding your recent article, I also have a rotten egg smell in my hot water caused by a new water heater.

When I contacted the manufacturer, it mentioned that removing the anode rod would eliminate the problem, but said that would void the warranty on the unit.

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Since I am also on a well, I contacted the water pump company, which indicated the rods would become "coated" over time and the smell should go away. But it has been about eight months, and still there is a smell. (The company did say the timing would vary based on water usage.)

The old water heaters were 20 years old, so I know I got better-than-expected life, but I never had this problem before. Do you have any other suggestions, since the warranty would be voided by removing the rods, and will the smell go away over time once the magnesium is no longer exposed?

A. When two metals are connected to each other in a water medium, one will corrode to protect the other. Magnesium and aluminum are two metals used as sacrificial anodes to protect any steel parts in glass-lined heaters, magnesium being the better one.

You could try to raise the temperature in your water heater to 140 degrees for a few days to see if that eliminates the rotten egg smell. Once it is gone, return the temperature to a more energy-saving 120 degrees.

Another way to eliminate the smell is to pour several pints of hydrogen peroxide in the tank to kill the bacteria. You should have a licensed plumber do this for you first, then install a special T so you can do it yourself in the future.

Another possibility is to replace the magnesium anode with a powered anode, which is connected to an electrical outlet but uses minimal current.

Q. A short time ago, someone wrote to you about infrared/quartz heaters, and you stated that EdenPURE heaters were made in the U.S. As I was interested in these heaters and was going to purchase one to supplement our heating, I went to a local warehouse outlet to check them out. Reading the information on the box, I was shocked to see "Made in China" printed on it! The actual product had "Made in China" printed on the back as well.

How can you promote a product as being made in U.S.A. when "Made in China" is printed all over it? I hope you recall your statements, as this is misleading readers.

A. What you tell me is outrageous! I read an ad in our newspaper stating that EdenPURE had built a huge factory in Canton, Ohio, and that the heaters were made there.

I have just looked up the company's website, and this is what I found: "Engineered and designed in the U.S.A., the new EdenPURE GEN4 uses specially designed SYLVANIA Quartz bulbs as a heat source, along with our new 'EdenFLOW Direct Air' technology for even more efficient and even heat distribution. And new to the EdenPURE product line is the EdenPURE 750. Proudly made in North Canton, Ohio, the Model 750 portable heater allows you to implement zone heating and target an area of up to 750 square feet."

So it seems as if the other models are designed and engineered in the U.S. but made in China, while the model 750 is built in Ohio. Either the newspaper ad did not make that clear, or I didn't read it carefully enough.

You may have read before that I have never been in favor of these expensive heaters, whether they are EdenPURE units or those in Amish cabinets, because their advertising is somewhat deceptive. In small print, the ads say the thermostat has to be lowered in the rest of the house to achieve the claimed savings. I made that clear in the column in which you read my qualified "endorsement," given only because EdenPURE said the heaters were made in the U.S. by American workers.

Q. I enjoy reading your articles and find many of your tips very helpful. My problem: When it rains, some water seems to be going between the gutter and the drip edge. Therefore, water runs down the side of the house, and water marks are starting to form on my vinyl siding. I am also concerned about the amount of water around the foundation of my house.

I had a new roof put on my house last summer, and this is when the problem started. (It was happening before I got the new roof, but not to the degree it is now.) I called my roofer, and he ran a bead of caulking along the top of the gutter where it meets the drip edge. This did not really fix the problem.

I got some spray sealant at Home Depot and sprayed along his caulking and where the gutter hangers are. This still did not fix the problem. I am not a roofer, but in discussing this with my neighbor, we feel the first row of shingles is not hanging far enough over the drip edge.

Do you have any remedy for this problem? Will the water running down the side of the house eventually affect my foundation? Can the water going down the side of the house work its way in and start affecting the plaster, in particular around windows? There is J-channel around the windows, but if we get enough rain over time, can it come in? Also, there are no leaks in my gutters because I ran water in them using a garden hose. Your insightful advice on this matter will be greatly appreciated.

A. Water should not be allowed to run down the siding; it can get behind the siding and cause serious problems within the walls, as well as leakage in the basement or crawl space.

The shingles should be hanging about one-quarter inch to one-half inch beyond the drip edge, so this may be your problem. But you may also have an off-the-shelf drip edge on a relatively low-pitch roof, in which case water will follow the drip edge by surface tension and get behind the gutter.

There are two solutions, and caulking is not one of them. The best solution is to see if you can find a local building supply store that either carries or will order for you lengths of Lamb & Ritchie's Positive "Rite Flow" drip edge, which has an extended leg that delivers water into the gutter. It can be slipped under the last row of shingles and held in place with dabs of roofing cement or polyurethane caulking.

The other solution is to have a contractor make a drip edge with a drop leg that fits into the gutter and can also be slipped under the shingles.

Q. As the hot water circulates through my baseboards, there is a loud popping sound in a particular area of my ceiling, where the copper line runs up and into my upstairs bathroom. I do not believe it is air in the lines, but instead is probably where the pipe is expanding in a joist.

Is there any possible solution other than cutting a hole in my ceiling and trying to somehow widen the hole in the joist?

A. Not that I know of. Trying to make the hole bigger may be difficult. Instead, see if a piece of foam can be wrapped around the pipe as a cushion.

Interesting product: How often have you had to deal with a sluggish bathroom lavatory or tub drain that is partly clogged with hair? I know I have had to remove the stopper and dig out hair with a piece of hooked wire many times over the years. I even impressed one of my sons-in-law when I showed him why his bathroom sink was draining so excruciatingly slowly. He keeps the wire in his toolbox now.

A new product takes care of this problem: the Clog Catcher (clogcatcher.com). The kit ($9.99 plus shipping) includes two brushlike clog catchers for sinks and two for tubs. You simply place them around the stoppers, and they catch what should not go down the drain.

The manufacturer recommends replacing them every 30 days, but it's up to you to decide if that's necessary.

Interesting tip from a reader: "I've read your column for quite a while now, and I've seen how many questions concern mold growing on the caulking between the shower walls and floor. I had mine replaced too many times to count I was going to use the caulk you mentioned that takes a week to dry. I Googled everywhere for a solution and came up with one that worked!

"Run a line of toilet paper along your caulk. Put some full-strength bleach in a spray bottle and saturate the paper. Wearing gloves, mush it along the line of caulk. Leave it for several hours and then peek. I left the fan on and left mine overnight. Mold was GONE in the morning. And better yet, it's stayed gone. But if it comes back at least I know it will cost me about 50 cents in bleach and toilet paper to fix.

"One could market it with some kind of 'special' tape to fit in the grout and a separate bleach solution in a cute little bottle call it Caulk Whiz or something! Thought you might like the hint."

Priceless! Thank you for sharing your success story. What I am not clear about is how the toilet paper stays on if you "mush it along the line of caulk." Doesn't the fragile toiler paper disintegrate?

• Henri de Marne was a remodeling contractor in Washington, D.C., for many years, and is now a consultant. Write to him in care of the Daily Herald, P.O. Box 280, Arlington Heights, IL 60006, or via email at henridemarne@gmavt.net.

2012, United Feature Syndicate Inc.

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