If you do not feel comfortable doing this work yourself, hire a licensed plumber to do it for you.
1. Do not shut off the gas or the water supply to the heater.
2. Attach a garden hose to the draincock located at the bottom of the heater. The draincock usually looks like a regular hose bib (garden faucet) or a round dial with a threaded hole in the middle.
3. Extend the garden hose to a place where the water can safely exit the heater (e.g. a drain, a driveway, etc.).
4. Open the draincock to allow the water to exit the heater. Caution: the water leaving the heater will be hot and under normal household water pressure. Also note that if the draincock is made of plastic and the heater is several years old, it may be difficult to open and may break easily if forced.
5. After five minutes of flushing, fill a bucket with the still flushing water.
6. Allow the water in the bucket to stand undisturbed for a minute and see if the water has cleared or if any sand-like material settles to the bottom. If the water has cleared and no sand-like material is observed, go on to step 7. If the water is discolored and/or sand-like material is observed at the bottom of the bucket, repeat steps 5 and 6 until the water is completely clear and free of sediment.
7. Close the draincock and remove the garden hose.
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Disinfecting the drain will remove the bacteria in the drain that are causing these foul odors.
Caution: do not mix any drain cleaners or detergents with bleach; certain combinations can create toxic fumes.
1. Run the cold water for about 15 seconds into the drain that is to be disinfected, then turn the water off.
2. Pour approximately one to two cups of liquid chlorine bleach (laundry bleach) down the drain. Pour the bleach slowly around the edges of the drain so that it runs down the sides of the drain. Be careful: bleach may cause eye damage, skin irritation, and may damage clothing.
3. If the odor is coming from a sink with a garbage disposal, turn the disposal on for a few seconds while the bleach is being poured. This will disperse the bleach around the inside of the disposal. Caution: take care to avoid splashing for the few seconds the disposal is turned on. Bleach may cause eye damage, skin irritation, and may damage clothing.
4. Allow the bleach to remain undisturbed in the drain for about 10 minutes. Caution: prolonged contact with metals may cause pitting and/or discoloration.
5. After 10 minutes, run hot water into the drain for a minute or two to flush out the bleach. If a garbage disposal was disinfected, thoroughly flush it as well.
6. Repeat this procedure if the odor returns.
Heat disinfection is used to eliminate the bacteria. It involves draining the water heater, maximizing the temperature in the water heater, and then draining the water heater again. If you do not feel comfortable doing this work yourself, hire a licensed plumber to do it for you.
1. Select a time to drain the water heater. We recommend an evening since this will minimize the impact your typical use of hot water.
2. Turn the thermostat on the heater off so that only the pilot light remains on. If the heater is drained while the heating flame is on, the heater may be damaged.
3. Turn off the water supply to the water heater. There may be a valve to do this right at the inlet to the water heater, or the water supply to the entire property may need to be shut off at the house valve.
4. Open one or more hot water faucets inside the house. This allows air to enter the heater as the water drains out in step 6.
5. Attach a garden hose to the draincock located at the bottom of the water heater. The draincock usually looks like a regular hose bib (garden faucet) or a round dial with a threaded hole in the middle.
6. Extend the garden hose to a place where the water can be disposed of (e.g. a drain, the driveway, etc.).
7. Open the draincock and allow all of the water to drain out of the water heater. This can take anywhere from five minutes to half an hour or more depending on the capacity of the heater and the size of the draincock. Caution: the draining water will be very hot. Also note that if the draincock is made of plastic and the water heater is several years old, it may be difficult to open and may break easily if forced.
8. When the water heater is empty, close the draincock and remove the garden hose.
9. Turn the water supply to the water heater back on. Leave the hot water faucet(s) inside the house turned on. This will allow the air in the water heater to escape as it refills with water. There will likely be "hissing" sounds and/or "spitting and sputtering" as air and water begin coming out of the hot water faucets. When the water flow from the faucet(s) returns to normal, shut them off.
10. That night (before going to bed), turn the thermostat for the water heater to its highest temperature setting for one night. Caution: make sure everyone who uses the water is aware that the hot water is going to be hotter than usual.
11. The next morning, turn the thermostat on the heater off so that only the pilot light remains on. If the heater is drained while the heating flame is on, the heater may be damaged.
12. Drain and refill the water heater by repeating steps 2 through 8.
13. Return the thermostat on the water heater to the normal setting (usually around 130°F).
7. Close the draincock and remove the garden hose.
How do I contact ACWD if I have a question about or a problem with my drinking water? You can call us at (510) 668-6500.