My Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs

on June 28, 2018 water softener

Do you have water issues? Is your water starting to have a foul odor that leaves your family running for the door? There's nothing worse than having stinky drinking water, but you don't have to live with it. We'll explore what can cause your water to smell like sulfur, and what you can do to fix the problem.

What Makes Water Stink?

You need to first determine at what temperature the water is when you notice the smell. If it is only happening when the water is hot, then the problem is likely caused by bacteria growing in your water heater. Water heaters become a bacterial breeding ground if the temperature is set too low or if it has not been used for an extended period of time. Good news is that this type of bacteria is not a health risk, but you'll still want to have it looked at by a professional to eliminate the smell.

Next, make sure that your drain pipe is clean. The smell of sewage can travel upwards if food, soap, or other materials sit in your pipe and create bacteria. This type of bacteria causes a heavy gas to accumulate near the drain. Once you turn on the water, that gas is forced up into the air, leaving you to deal with the dreaded stench.

The sewage smell can also be caused by hydrogen sulfide. This chemical occurs naturally in some groundwater, as well as deep or shallow wells. Humans can smell hydrogen sulfide when it is as low as .5 parts per million. If the parts per million get as high as 1-2, you will start to notice a rotten egg smell, and no one wants that.

Lastly, the number one cause of a rotten egg smell – is when anaerobic bacteria mixes with sulfur and the magnesium and aluminum sacrificial anodes installed on most water heaters. It is not the fault of the water heater manufacturers; it's just something that happens in different parts of the country. We see this happen most often in well systems.

How Can I Get Rid of the Smell?

To accurately deduce what is causing the offensive odor, there are a few steps that you should follow.

  1. Fill a glass with water and walk across the room. If you’re unable to detect a smell, this means that the smell is coming from your pipes and drain. To remove this smell, disinfect your pipes with soap and a small brush. Scrub, scrub, scrub.

  2. If it's the water that stinks, turn up the temperature on your water heater and wait 24 hours then run the hot water to flush out the pipes . If the smell goes away, then you'll know to keep the temperature higher to fight off bacteria.

  3. Replace the stock magnesium or aluminum anode rod with one that is made from an aluminum/zinc alloy. Some water heaters have two anode rods so be sure to remove all previous anodes or your water will continue to have an unpleasant odor.

  4. If your water still stinks, you need to have your water tested by a local lab. This test will tell you the specific amounts of contaminants in your water, and these chemicals can be filtered out using a whole home water softening system.

If you are concerned about your water’s odor and what contaminants may be in your drinking water, our dedicated team at Advantage Water Conditioning can help. Give us a call today, and we can find the best solution for your home or business.