My Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs

on June 28, 2018 water softener residential

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 my water smell?

You need first to determine the temperature of the water when you notice the smell. If it only happens when the water is hot, then the problem is likely caused by bacteria growing in your water heater. Water heaters become bacterial breeding grounds if the temperature is too low or if they have not been used for an extended period. The 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 drainpipe is clean. The smell of sewage can travel upward if food, soap, or other materials sit in your pipe and create bacteria. This type of bacteria causes heavy gas to accumulate near the drain. Once you turn on the water, that gas is forced into the air, leaving you with the dreaded stench. 

The sewage smell can also be caused by hydrogen sulfide. This chemical occurs naturally in some groundwater and deep or shallow wells. Humans can smell hydrogen sulfide 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. 

The number-one cause of a rotten egg smell is when bacteria mix with sulfur in your water heater. This is a common occurrence that happens in different parts of the country. We see this happen most often in well-water systems. 

How can I get rid of the smell?

To accurately determine the cause of 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 cannot detect a smell, the smell is coming from your pipes and drain. To remove this smell, disinfect your pipes by scrubbing them with soap and a small brush.
  2. If the water 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 disappears, you’ll know to keep the temperature higher to fight off bacteria.
  3. Replace the stock magnesium or aluminum anode rod with one made from an aluminum/zinc alloy. Some water heaters have two anode rods, so remove all previous anodes to eliminate your water’s unpleasant odor.
  4. If your water still stinks after trying these tests, you need to have your water checked 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 any potential contaminants, our dedicated team at Advantage Water Conditioning can help. Call us today, and we can find the best solution for your home or business.