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sulfur water

The water smells like rotten eggs – What should you do?

If you’re suddenly confronted with plumbing system issues, specifically a foul smell in the cold water of your home or business that eerily resembles that of rotten eggs, the culprits to blame are most likely hydrogen sulfide gas and sulfur bacteria in the water supply.

These microorganisms can be found present in groundwater or your home’s plumbing fixtures and are known for releasing a sulfur smell into your water supply. However, if you notice that this odor problem is more prominent when hot water is running specifically from your faucets, it may not be a water quality issue with the groundwater, but rather a chemical reaction involving sulfate and other components inside your water heater.

You should check your hot water heater and clean it, and/or fix the water source ideally with a whole house aeration or carbon filter. Learn more below.

Why Does My Water Have Rotten Egg Smell?

Drinking water in certain areas of the nation may contain hydrogen sulfide gas, a chemical that imparts a distinguishable and foul odor similar to rotten eggs. This smelly mishap might happen if water comes into contact with pyrite, other minerals, or organic matter.

Instances of groundwater harboring excessive amounts of manganese also contributes to the discoloration and odor problems. If suspecting such risks, a state-certified laboratory’s analysis of the quality of your water is the best approach to learning exactly what contaminants lurk in it.

If the sulfur smell is only noticed upon opening your hot water faucets, suggesting an issue with your home’s plumbing system, the water heater may be the source, as it may result from a chemical reaction inside the device involving a magnesium anode rod.

You might be astonished to learn that drinking water in the US contains over 316 different contaminants. Strange odors in tap water can be a typical issue for many people, especially if the water source is a well or still water source.

How Do You Fix Smelly Sulfur Water?

In addressing the odor problem, here are steps you can take to fix the unpleasant rotten egg smell present in both your hot and cold water:

Clean the Water Heater’s Tank

If your water system is tankless, flushing it out once or twice a year is always an excellent idea. Not only does it aid in clearing up sediment and bacterial accumulation in the tank, enhancing the overall taste and water quality, it also significantly improves the efficiency at which your plumbing system runs.

Eliminating a sizable accumulation of bacteria and consequently hydrogen sulfide, can contribute greatly to resolving the sulfur smell. This step is a crucial first when dealing with rotten egg smells, since even though it doesn’t entirely eliminate the smell, it will improve the long-term performance of your hot water heater and plumbing fixtures.

Make the Water Source Safe

If you’ve already meticulously checked your hot water tank to no avail, or if both your cold and hot water sources are plagued with the rotten egg scent, it’s time to consider the other suspect – the water treatment at the source, the well. Various treatment options exist and are available to you in ridding the sulfur odor from your well water.

  • Chlorine: Install a chlorinator (also known as a chlorine injector system) on your wellhead to deliver chlorine continuously while the water is running. When paired with an Air Charger self-cleaning backwash carbon filter, chlorination may continually remove odors and chlorine from the water. Chlorination works by killing the sulfur bacteria that generate the stink.
  • Peroxide: Set up a chlorinator-style system but substitute hydrogen peroxide for chlorine bleach. Next, backwash the catalytic carbon filter. In contrast to chlorine, the carbon system leaves no salts or residues behind in the water.
  • Air Charger Carbon Filter: You need to install a catalytic carbon air filter for the air conditioner. While you don’t need chemicals, the device also can inject peroxide to extend the life of the catalytic carbon. There is no need to replace filter cartridges because carbon lasts long and is simple to replace.
  • Air Compressor Tank Aeration System: Under certain circumstances, this system can remove odors by injecting a lot of air under pressure.
  • Ozone gas: Ozone is a very powerful solution. To quickly get rid of sulfur smells, use DROP Ozone Complete.

Note: You can use chlorine bleach or hydrogen peroxide to shock your well to mask sulfur odors temporarily. It often prevents odors for one to two months. Please consult a professional for further information.

Install a New Anode Rod

The plug connecting the magnesium anode to the water heater’s top is on many water heaters. You can take it out by shutting off the water supply, releasing the water heater’s pressure, and unscrewing the plug. Make sure to close the gap. However, removing the anode can result in a shorter water heater lifespan.

You might wish to inquire with a water heater dealer or repair service about the possibility of installing an alternate anode. An aluminum anode replacement prevents hydrogen sulfide gas formation, it can also prevent the corrosion of your plumbing system.

Replace Your Hot Water Heater

If despite these measures, your hot water continues to emit a sulfur stench, it could be time to upgrade to a brand-new water heater. One that, aside from curtailing water hardness content, mitigates that awful smell in your water. We offer a range of smart water treatment products that work together to ensure you enjoy a clean and healthy water supply.

Install a Water Filtration System

Aeration Filter
DROP Aeration Filter for Sulfur Reduction

If you’re facing a rotten egg odor issue with both your hot and cold water sources, chances are that mere adjustments to your water heater won’t suffice. A whole house water filtration system should be capable of alleviating the odor even though combatting the sulfuric gas in your water supply directly might not be a feasible course of action.

For users dealing with hard water, these filtration systems are indeed a necessary investment. Prolonged exposure to minerals in their water can degrade household items and plumbing pipes much faster than usual. To address this, at DROP, we provide a range of water filtration solutions designed to reduce bacteria and minerals in your water supply.

FAQ

Is it okay for my water to smell like rotten eggs?

The majority of the time, the smell of rotting eggs has little correlation with how clean your water is. In rare cases, the gas may originate from pollution or sewage, prompting concerns about water quality. To ensure safety, consider getting a water test to check the nitrate and coliform levels in your well water.

Is it Safe to Shower With Smelly Water?

While the presence of hydrogen sulfide in your water might give off a ghastly smell, akin to that of sewage, the odor in itself does not pose health risks, thus it’s safe to consume and bathe with. However, it might make your shower experience less enjoyable.

Should I Call A Plumber If My Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs?

Bringing in a plumber to flush and clean your hot water tank can aid in eliminating the unpleasant rotten egg smell. Not only will this rid your water and plumbing system of bacteria and other elements that produce hydrogen sulfide, a plumber can also replace a corroded anode rod during a water heater flush, potentially keeping the stink from recurring. However, in instances where even your cold water reeks of rotten eggs, the installation of a water filter might be the most effective remedy to entirely dissolve the issue.

The Bottom Line

The presence of a rotten egg smell in your water supply can be quite off-putting. However, it’s important to remember that this issue is more common than you might think and is most often caused by hydrogen sulfide and sulfur bacteria lurking in your groundwater or plumbing system.

In this article, we’ve discussed a variety of solutions to tackle this odor problem, including cleaning your water heater tank, treating your water source, and using an aeration filter. These treatments should successfully eliminate the unpleasant odors from your water supply, significantly enhancing water quality.

Sources

  • https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/wells/waterquality/hydrosulfide.html#:~:text=In%20most%20cases%2C%20the%20rotten,for%20coliform%20bacteria%20and%20nitrate.
  • https://www.usgs.gov/special-topics/water-science-school/science/water-qas-why-does-my-water-smell-rotten-eggs
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