How to Get Rid of the Rotten Egg Smell in Your Water
A rotten egg odor coming from your water can be alarming. This smell occurs when decaying organic matter or chemical reactions create hydrogen sulfide, a colorless gas that’s highly poisonous when airborne and can make its way into your water.
How Does Sulfur Get in Your Water in the First Place?
There are several ways hydrogen sulfide gets into your water supply. Check the smell of water from the hot and cold faucets — do both have the rotten egg odor, or is one tap’s smell more noticeable than the other?
If you smell sulfur only when the hot water is on, it’s likely caused by an issue with your water heater. If there’s a smell for either hot or cold water, sulfur bacteria could be in the groundwater, well, plumbing system or water softener (if you own one).
Pollution of your municipal water source is another possible cause of the smell. There are many sources of drinking water pollution, from runoff into rivers to naturally occurring contaminants, which often aren’t filtered by basic water treatment.
4 Reasons Why Your Water Smells Like Sulfur
Hydrogen sulfide gas gets in residential water for several reasons, whether city-treated or from a well.
- Bacteria: Hydrogen sulfide gas is produced when bacteria feed on sulfur-containing proteins and other organic matter found in water.
- Geological sources: Acidic bedrock containing shale and sandstone may contribute to increased levels of hydrogen sulfide in your water, especially if you have a well.
- Chemical reactions: Water heaters are equipped with anode rods to prevent the tank from corroding. The rods chemically reduce sulfates and in the process form hydrogen sulfide.
- Sewage and other pollution: While unlikely, pollution and sewage issues may be causing the rotten egg smell in your water. It’s important to get your water tested for E. coli and other contaminants harmful to your health and home.
Water Heater Issues
If your hot water smells like sulfur, your home’s water heater likely needs a comprehensive repair. Inside the heater is an anode rod, often made of magnesium or aluminum, designed to attract minerals corrosive to the unit. The rod also acts like a magnet to sulfates, triggering chemical reactions that cause hydrogen sulfide and an unpleasant rotten egg smell in the water. Your plumbing specialist can provide routine maintenance, flush the heater, replace anode rods and service the unit as needed.
Looking to stop bacteria at the source? Investing in a whole-home water purification system stops contaminants before they even make it to your water heater — up to 98% with a Kinetico reverse osmosis system.
Is Sulfuric Water Safe to Drink?
While hydrogen sulfide does not create life-threatening symptoms when consumed in drinking water, it can impact your health long-term. High concentrations of hydrogen sulfide may irritate mucous membranes that line your gastrointestinal tract, skin and eyes. If you notice a persistent sulfur odor coming from your water, it’s essential to have your water tested by a professional.
Health Impacts of Sulfur in Water
Drinking water with sulfur in it may cause diarrhea, cramps and dehydration, as well as gastrointestinal irritation. Babies and people with sensitive stomachs will particularly experience these symptoms. Showering or bathing in sulfuric water increases bacteria growth on skin and subsequent inflammation and irritation.
Sulfuric water impacts your home with potentially expensive side effects. Sulfur bacteria and the additional bacterial growth it causes produce a slime; this can clog your plumbing, well and even irrigation systems. Over time, the presence of bacteria and hydrogen sulfide corrodes pipes, damages appliances and may leave your plumbing fixtures and kitchen silverware stained gray, black or reddish brown — all costly side effects of poor water quality.
How Do I Treat Sulfuric Water?
Get rid of unwanted sulfur smells and hydrogen sulfide in your water with a reverse osmosis purification system. Reverse osmosis filters almost all contaminants found in water, including dissolved minerals, metals, pharmaceuticals, PFOS, PFAS and GenX chemicals. Treating sulfuric water will also help protect the efficiency of your appliances from the corrosive nature of sulfur, from your washing machine to the dishwasher and garbage disposal.
Improve Your Health With Kinetico Advanced Water Systems
Kinetico Advanced Water Systems specializes in helping homeowners get rid of odd water smells and impurities, for better tasting and healthier water for your whole family. Schedule your free water analysis today to get a complete understanding of your water and find the best treatment solution for your home.