Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs?

Sometimes during a home inspection the water will smell like rotten eggs and that is an unpleasant situation.  It can also be unnerving to a prospective buyer.  This issue is most common in well systems; not so much in public water in this part of the country.  The smell is hydrogen sulfide gas which is produced by anaerobic bacteria in the water and it normally originates in the water heater.  An easy way to check is to run just cold water and then just hot and see when the water smells.

In water heaters there is something called a sacrificial anode that is made of magnesium or aluminum and that is what the water reacts with to make the hydrogen sulfide.  Its purpose is to reduce the risk of corrosion in the water heater, so you can’t just remove it altogether.  But sometimes replacing the sacrificial anode will eliminate (or reduce) the problem.  Another possible solution is to remove the anode rod and pour a quart of peroxide or chlorine bleach into the water heater (peroxide is safer).

It’s one thing to find smelly water during a home inspection, but this problem became personal when my hot water started smelling bad.  I have a 16 year old high efficiency gas water heater and I know better than to try replacing the anode rod on something that old.  Fortunately, I couldn’t even find the anode rod so that possibility was eliminated.  So, I tried the simplest solution.  My hot water temperature was about 125 degrees F; that’s good to prevent scalding and plenty hot for a shower, but it is not high enough to kill the bacteria.  So, I simply turned up the temperature to about 145 degrees which is high enough to kill the bacteria.  It worked!  Of course, the risk of scalding is higher now but I can always install a tempering valve which mixes a little cold water with the hot to knock the temperature back down.  It’s nice when something simple and free works.


That’s all for now from the Helpful Home Inspector! Happy home-owning.

Flood in Old Ellicott City

I normally try to keep this blog related to home inspections, but this post is a business owner’s perspective on helping those businesses that were devastated in the Ellicott City flood this past summer. Thanks to monumental efforts by the owners, volunteers and the government, the businesses are moving forward with the cleanup and restoration of their buildings; hopefully they will soon be open for business. I am reminded that for the owners, the building is not their business. The building is just a tool; the real business is the commerce that takes place in the building. Thankfully, for some of the businesses that commerce is able to continue even though they have been dislodged from their buildings. We can’t all help them rebuild, but we can all support the businesses by purchasing their services and products.

I want to tell you about one such business that is owned and operated by friends of mine: Shoemaker Country. Their retail took place on the first floor of their building which was wiped out in the flood. The building is being repaired and they hope to be back in for the holidays, but Mike Shoemaker let me know this week that they are still open for business – taking orders for furnishings of all kinds and custom wood working. I have two special tables in my house that Shoemaker Country made for me. One is a 42-inch diameter table made from an oak tree that died on my property, and the other is made from the 100-year-old floor joists that were removed from my farm house during a major remodel. If you have an idea, they can make it a reality. They do beautiful work. I also have several other furnishings including lamps, homemade decorative signs and even coffee mugs. Check out their website or give them a call for your project: Your purchases at this critical time can help the businesses of Ellicott City recover more quickly.

It is important that we keep these businesses in mind even when the media fades and we start to hear other news. A good way to do this is to follow along on social media to get updates directly from business owners! Even if you do not need their services right now, you may have friends or family who would love to work with the businesses in Old Ellicott City. Spread the word!

Thanks for reading, and blessings to all the shops and owners in Old Ellicott City.

Highland Home Inspections

Table made by Shoemaker Country

This table was made from floor joists from my 100-year-old farm house

Table designed by Shoemaker Country

This table was made from the cross-section of a felled oak tree on my property

How to Prepare First-Time Home Buyers for the Home Inspection!

Hey realtors, we hope you’re having a great Spring and making lots of sales here in Maryland! Are you working with first-time home buyers? If so, this super-exciting video is for you.  We explain what to expect, how to prepare, and what you’ll gain from a home inspection.  We’ve found that having realistic expectations goes a long way toward smooth sale-ing (ha!).  We hope this video helps you help your clients 🙂

Happy Spring!

~ The Helpful Home Inspector


Home Maintenance Checklist

Hi there! Have you ever wondered about the things you’re missing when you think about your house’s maintenance? There are so many little details to think about that it can quickly become overwhelming!  You need to think about air filters, hose bibs, shingles (how do I even get on the roof?!), fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, moisture in the basement, and the list goes on.  It’s way too much for a weekend project.  What you need to do is schedule it out so you can keep your house healthy while relieving yourself from all that stress.

We’ve been inspecting homes for 27 years and have seen just about everything.  We’ve seen houses that need demolition and houses that have been perfectly maintained.  With all that experience, we’ve made a short list of items that will help you keep your house healthy.  We’re very excited to share it with you today!

Go ahead and print out this Home Maintenance Checklist PDF and choose a place to start! Let us know what you think!