Updated: Oct 2023

It’s important to frequently monitor the health of your water heater – especially when it comes to paying attention to any odd plumbing tools for inspecting a water heater that smells like nail polish smells near the unit. A while back, one of our customers explained that her water heater smelled like nail polish. Somewhat shocked by this, we inspected her water heater and gave her the following advice, which we are now passing on to others who might be having the same issue.

5 Reasons Your Water Heater Smells Like Nail Polish

  1. Do You Have an Oil-Powered Water Heater?
    An oil water heater lets off different smells than a gas or electric water heater. It could be that you are simply smelling a natural byproduct of combustion. However, if there is any doubt at all, it’s best to contact your service provider or your oil company and get their professional opinion.
  2. Check the Surrounding Area for Spills.
    If you smell nail polish, definitely inspect the area around your water heater. The smell of nail polish could mean that, well, you spilled nail polish somewhere nearby! This isn’t something to take lightly, since nail polish is highly flammable and should never be anywhere near your water heater. Clean up the spill ASAP and make sure the area around your water heater is free of clutter.
  3. Check the Surrounding Insulation.
    It’s possible that your insulation is to blame for your water heater nail polish smell. Check the insulation near your water heater to see if that’s the source of the smell or not. Wear gloves and protective eyewear and a facemask whenever handling insulation.
  4. Schedule A Combustion Appliance Zone (CAZ) Test.
    There’s a very common phenomenon known as backdraft that could be the cause of your weird water heater smell. Backdraft involves s change in your system’s pressure, resulting in the emissions of your water heater being sucked into the house rather than blown out. Have your service provider perform a CAZ test to determine if this is your issue and take the appropriate steps to solve it.
  5. Be Aware of Other Smells to Look Out For.
    Perhaps your water heater does smell odd, but nail polish isn’t quite the right word for it. If your water heater smells like sulfur, rotten eggs, or anything else out of the ordinary, call your service provider ASAP for an inspection. This could indicate a natural gas leak that will put your home and health at risk.
  6. Does Your Water Heater Smell Like Nail Polish? Give us a call for your water heater service needs today.

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