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Old 24-06-2022, 07:43   #1
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Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Hi all, I have a problem on my current boat which I have had before on previous boats. We have a faucet and icemaker downstream of a water filter. Once a filter has been installed for a couple of weeks, the water starts to take on a rotten egg smell. Running the water through the faucet for a minute or two will clear up the faucet water but ice in the icemaker gets pretty funky.

If I take the filter out, the chlorine in the shore water appears to be sufficient to kill the sulfur eating bacteria which produce this smell. I am thinking about taking the filter membrane out and bleach shocking the local plumbing (roughly 6' of water supply hose, the faucet and icemaker) impacted by the smell/taste. Is this sufficient to prevent this from coming back or do I need to replace the plumbing (hoses and faucet) to prevent the return of the nasty?
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Old 24-06-2022, 08:04   #2
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

It is because filters collect all the "nasty". Your real problem is that your water system itself probably needs a good disinfection cleaning. Add 1/2 cup of bleach to each tank and then flush it through every line in you system. Let sit an hour than drain them and flush a few times to remove. Replace the nasty filter after.

yes it will take a lot of water.

BTW are you in a cold place and glycol layup the tanks in winter? When you recommission the tanks and the glycol is very diluted it is now bacterial food.
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Old 24-06-2022, 08:07   #3
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Bleach and flush the system with the filter removed as sailorboy described. After that, what kind of filter are you using in the system?
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Old 24-06-2022, 08:19   #4
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Bleach is good but I wouldn't let it sit in the system very long. Could try Hydrogen Peroxide instead. Also cheap but will need to use more of it.
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Old 24-06-2022, 09:01   #5
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

So many complicated answers to a really simple question. A filter does not make anything "go away" it just collects it, and holds it. Once collected, it starts to rot, and generates Hydrogen sulfide ("rotten eggs").

The filter is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, collect crap. You have to remove the crap before it rots by CHANGING THE FILTER MORE OFTEN. This solution is right there in your post, you already recognize that the water is good for a "couple weeks" after you change the filter. So why not just change the filter before the water goes bad???

You also should look into where the "crap" is coming from. If you are taking the water out of a tank, it is likely time for a good cleaning of the tank. If this is "direct from the dock" water, there is nothing you can do, it is the local water supply. I have been in a couple marinas with local well water that had a LOT of H2S in the water. Assuming this is not your issue...

H2S is not "stored" in the water system. It is very water soluble, and flushes out quickly. It ONLY comes from the breakdown of organic material by anaerobic bacteria. To solve this problem you have to REMOVE the organic material. Certainly killing the bacteria with bleach is a temporary solution. But if there is food, they quickly repopulate.
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Old 24-06-2022, 11:18   #6
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Don’t forget your water heater anode. They apparently can “ poison” the entire system. I cleaned my system many times chlorox, filters etc. but faucet water siesta smelled hit and coke.
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Old 24-06-2022, 15:36   #7
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Sailorboy1 has the right of it. It is that, eventually, the bacteria have spread throughout the whole water system. Therefore, you have to treat the whole system to get it back to bacteria-free. The process does require a new filter as well.

Here's another link to the same process: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ks-126978.html

and another, from well known Peggy Hall: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ank-80103.html post #9

Ann

PS I'm afraid the quantities needed of strong enough hydrogen peroxide would make that approach prohibitively expensive. We're talking gallons here, and stronger than medicinal H2O2, as well. Perhaps stronger than hair bleach, as well, so how would one source it?
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Old 24-06-2022, 16:13   #8
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Ann you make a good point on the peroxide. It is possible to use it for maintenance but in this case something stronger is needed to zap the bugs.
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Old 24-06-2022, 16:21   #9
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

You can get 30%+ hydrogen peroxide. A $65 1 gal jug is enough to treat 1,000 gal of water. This is dangerous stuff!!!!!!!!!! But safe for alum tanks.

https://bulkperoxide.com/shop/34-foo...xoC9ZoQAvD_BwE
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Old 24-06-2022, 18:38   #10
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Quote:
Originally Posted by JPA Cate View Post
Sailorboy1 has the right of it. It is that, eventually, the bacteria have spread throughout the whole water system. Therefore, you have to treat the whole system to get it back to bacteria-free. The process does require a new filter as well.

Here's another link to the same process: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ks-126978.html

and another, from well known Peggy Hall: https://www.cruisersforum.com/forums...ank-80103.html post #9

Ann

PS I'm afraid the quantities needed of strong enough hydrogen peroxide would make that approach prohibitively expensive. We're talking gallons here, and stronger than medicinal H2O2, as well. Perhaps stronger than hair bleach, as well, so how would one source it?
No, not really.

Yes, you can certainly kill the "bugs" with peroxide or bleach. And that is important if you have the potential for contamination with pathogenic critters.

But, if you do not elimiate the FOOD for the bogs they are back in less than a week making your water just as yucky as it was. You can NOT sterilize a drinking water system. It is impossible, and not needed. If you want to keep unpleasant smells and tastes away you have to eliminate the FOOD for the bugs.

Clean out the gunk and all will be well without constant bleach treatments.

We have a water system that is 25 years old. It has NEVER been bleached. Almost all the water going into it is RO water, so very low organic content. The water is the better tasting water we have found from any city water system in our travels.
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Old 24-06-2022, 18:48   #11
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

If you have an aluminum tank, be cautious about using bleach. The chlorine will react with aluminum which can eventually result in numerous little pin holes. They may not penetrate with the first treatment but the process will start and the low levels of chlorine in the city water will continue to react. It may take a couple years or maybe much longer but the problem starts with the high concentration (it's a relative term) of the bleach during the treatment to kill the bacteria. If your main tank is plastic, go ahead and treat but shut off the hot water tank if it's aluminum.
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Old 24-06-2022, 19:15   #12
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Thanks for pointing people to those directions, Ann (actually post #8). I've updated them a bit for clarity since I posted them 10 years ago:

Although most people think only in terms of the tank, the plumbing is actually the source of most foul water, because the molds, mildew, fungi and bacteria which cause it thrive in damp dark places, not under water. There are all kinds of products sold that claim to keep onboard water fresh, but all that’s really necessary is an annual or in especially warm climates, semi-annual recommissioning of the entire system—tank and plumbing. The following recommendations conform to section 10.8 in the A-1 192 code covering electrical, plumbing, and heating of recreational vehicles. The solution is approved and recommended by competent health officials. It may be used in a new system a used one that has not been used for a period of time, or one that may have been contaminated.

Before beginning, turn off hot water heater at the breaker; do not turn it on again until the entire recommissioning is complete. Icemakers should be left running to allow cleaning out of the water feed line; however the first two buckets of ice—the bucket generated during recommissioning and the first bucketful afterward--should be discarded…bleach does absolutely nothing to improve the flavor of good Scotch!


1 Prepare a solution using 1 quart or liter of household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite solution)/50 gallons of water tank capacity.

2. Complete filling of tank with fresh water. Open each faucet and drain cock until air has been released and the entire system is filled. Do not turn off the pump; it must remain on to keep the system pressurized and the solution in the lines

3. Allow to stand for at least three hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

4 Drain through every faucet on the boat (and if you haven't done this in a while, it's a good idea to remove any diffusion screens from the faucets, because what's likely to come out will clog them). Fill the tank again with fresh water only, drain again through every faucet on the boat.

5. To remove excess chlorine taste or odor which might remain, prepare a solution of one quart white vinegar to five gallons water and allow this solution to agitate in tank for several days by vessel motion.

6. Drain tank again through every faucet, and flush the lines again by filing the tank 1/4-1/2 full and again flushing with potable water.

People have expressed concern about using this method to recommission aluminum tanks. While bleach (chlorine) IS corrosive, its effects are cumulative. So the effect of an annual or semi-annual "shock treatment" is negligible compared to the cumulative effect of holding chlorinated city water in the tank for years. And it’s that cumulative effect that makes it a VERY bad idea to add a little bleach to each fill. Not only does it damage the system, but unless you add enough to make your water taste and smell like a laundry, it’s not enough to do any good. Even if it were, any “purifying” properties in chlorine evaporate within 24 hours, leaving behind only the corrosive properties. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to mix the total amount of bleach needed for recommissioning in a few gallons of water before putting it into an empty stainless or aluminum tank.

An annual or semi-annual recommissioning according to the above directions is all that should be necessary to keep your water tasting and smelling as good as anything that comes out of any faucet on land. If you need to improve on that, install a water filter. Just remember that a filter is not a substitute for cleaning out the system, and that filters require regular inspection and cleaning or replacement.

To keep the water system cleaner longer, USE your fresh water...keep water flowing through system. The molds, fungi, and bacteria only start to grow in hoses that aren't being used. Before filling the tank each time, always let the dock water run for at least 15 minutes first...the same critters that like the lines on your boat LOVE the dock supply line and your hose that sit in the warm sun, and you certainly don't want to transfer water that's been sitting in the dock supply line to your boat's system. So let the water run long enough to flush out all the water that's been standing in them so that what goes into your boat is coming straight from the water main.



--Peggie
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Old 24-06-2022, 23:28   #13
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Change your water supply tap.


I've found that's the only way to get rid of it in 33 years of experience.


An alternative, which might work is to put a strong solution of bleach throught the system - if you don't object to chorine istead of Hydrogen sulphide.


Leave the oxidiser for about 12 hrs, just running it through is inadequate.
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Old 25-06-2022, 01:18   #14
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Quote:
Originally Posted by peghall View Post
Thanks for pointing people to those directions, Ann (actually post #8). I've updated them a bit for clarity since I posted them 10 years ago:

Although most people think only in terms of the tank, the plumbing is actually the source of most foul water, because the molds, mildew, fungi and bacteria which cause it thrive in damp dark places, not under water. There are all kinds of products sold that claim to keep onboard water fresh, but all that’s really necessary is an annual or in especially warm climates, semi-annual recommissioning of the entire system—tank and plumbing. The following recommendations conform to section 10.8 in the A-1 192 code covering electrical, plumbing, and heating of recreational vehicles. The solution is approved and recommended by competent health officials. It may be used in a new system a used one that has not been used for a period of time, or one that may have been contaminated.

Before beginning, turn off hot water heater at the breaker; do not turn it on again until the entire recommissioning is complete. Icemakers should be left running to allow cleaning out of the water feed line; however the first two buckets of ice—the bucket generated during recommissioning and the first bucketful afterward--should be discarded…bleach does absolutely nothing to improve the flavor of good Scotch!


1 Prepare a solution using 1 quart or liter of household bleach (5% sodium hypochlorite solution)/50 gallons of water tank capacity.

2. Complete filling of tank with fresh water. Open each faucet and drain cock until air has been released and the entire system is filled. Do not turn off the pump; it must remain on to keep the system pressurized and the solution in the lines

3. Allow to stand for at least three hours, but no longer than 24 hours.

4 Drain through every faucet on the boat (and if you haven't done this in a while, it's a good idea to remove any diffusion screens from the faucets, because what's likely to come out will clog them). Fill the tank again with fresh water only, drain again through every faucet on the boat.

5. To remove excess chlorine taste or odor which might remain, prepare a solution of one quart white vinegar to five gallons water and allow this solution to agitate in tank for several days by vessel motion.

6. Drain tank again through every faucet, and flush the lines again by filing the tank 1/4-1/2 full and again flushing with potable water.

People have expressed concern about using this method to recommission aluminum tanks. While bleach (chlorine) IS corrosive, its effects are cumulative. So the effect of an annual or semi-annual "shock treatment" is negligible compared to the cumulative effect of holding chlorinated city water in the tank for years. And it’s that cumulative effect that makes it a VERY bad idea to add a little bleach to each fill. Not only does it damage the system, but unless you add enough to make your water taste and smell like a laundry, it’s not enough to do any good. Even if it were, any “purifying” properties in chlorine evaporate within 24 hours, leaving behind only the corrosive properties. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to mix the total amount of bleach needed for recommissioning in a few gallons of water before putting it into an empty stainless or aluminum tank.

An annual or semi-annual recommissioning according to the above directions is all that should be necessary to keep your water tasting and smelling as good as anything that comes out of any faucet on land. If you need to improve on that, install a water filter. Just remember that a filter is not a substitute for cleaning out the system, and that filters require regular inspection and cleaning or replacement.

To keep the water system cleaner longer, USE your fresh water...keep water flowing through system. The molds, fungi, and bacteria only start to grow in hoses that aren't being used. Before filling the tank each time, always let the dock water run for at least 15 minutes first...the same critters that like the lines on your boat LOVE the dock supply line and your hose that sit in the warm sun, and you certainly don't want to transfer water that's been sitting in the dock supply line to your boat's system. So let the water run long enough to flush out all the water that's been standing in them so that what goes into your boat is coming straight from the water main.



--Peggie


Thank you Peggie!
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Old 27-06-2022, 05:31   #15
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Re: Rotten egg smell downstream of filter

Thanks for all the responses on this! What I ended up doing:

- Removed filter
- Turned off ice maker
- Added a bit of bleach to the filter container (high concentration)
- Ran enough water until I could smell at the faucet
- Let sit for 30 minutes
- Ran faucet until no more bleach smell
- Cleaned out filter housing then added a tiny amount of bleach (normal concentration)
- Turned the ice maker back on and let it run for 4 hours
- Clean out filter housing again and ran water at faucet (there is a T between faucet and ice maker)
- Let ice maker fill ice bin, emptied and repeated until no bleach smell
- No more rotten egg but I will come back to this thread when the smell returns.
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