Why Does My Water Smell Like Eggs?

sulfur eggs in well water

Water Treatment

June 2, 2023

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Knowing what it means if your home’s water smells like eggs is important. If you catch a whiff of a rotten egg smell when running your faucet, read on to learn more.

Staying hydrated is one of the most essential pillars of human health, yet 75% of Americans are chronically dehydrated. Reasons for this run the gamut from personal preference to people saying they are too busy.

If your water smells like eggs when it comes out of your tap, it can compound your dehydration issues because, well, having sulfur in your well water stinks – literally. Who will come in from a hot day of mowing the lawn and craving a glass of ice rotten egg water?

Rather than being a direct health issue, the rotten egg smell can indicate other more serious underlying problems with your groundwater and the integrity of your plumbing or your well.

Read on to learn what it means when your water smells like eggs and what you can do to combat it.

Why Your Water Smells Like Eggs

Let’s take a deep dive (pun intended) into why you may experience that unpleasant rotten egg smell.

The leading cause of a rotten egg smell in your water is sulfur in your well. There are many reasons that you could have sulfur in your well water. Hydrogen sulfide occurs naturally in many food products and is formed by anaerobic bacteria from decaying plant material. While it isn’t a direct health hazard or cause for bad water, it can certainly make for an unappetizing sip.

sulfur eggs

When Only Hot Water Smells Like Eggs

The only thing that can make the rotten egg smell in your water worse is when it is hot, smelly water. The good news is that it’s much easier to diagnose if your water only smells like eggs when it’s hot. When the egg smell occurs when you turn up the heat on your water, it is almost definitely an issue with your water heater.

Hot Water Tank Sulfur Smell Issue

Sulfur in Well Water and What It Means for You

First, you are going to need to contact a water testing company, like Aqualite US to visit your home and conduct on-site testing. As mentioned above, when your water has a rotten egg smell, it doesn’t mean it is dangerous to drink. However, it is often indicative of a growing problem that could lead to significant health hazards in the future.

Well Water Testing For Sulfur

Even a tiny amount of hydrogen sulfide in your water can cause it to smell like rotten eggs. To give you a better idea, if you were to add one teaspoon of salt to 10,000 gallons of water, that is roughly equal to the amount of hydrogen sulfide needed to make your well water smell like rotten eggs.

How Does Sulfur Get Into Well Water?

Determining the exact cause of the well infiltration can be difficult, hence the need to call a professional. It can be caused by something as harmless as naturally occurring minerals and chemicals in the ground. Unfortunately, it may also indicate pollution or excess groundwater finding its way into your well.

How To Address Sulfur In Well Water

When your water smells like eggs, you have a few options. First, see if it only smells when you run the hot water to see if the problem is your hot water heater, as mentioned above. If that seems to be the case, you have a few different options. If that doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to hire a professional.

If It Only Smells When It’s Hot

You are ultimately going to have to get a new water heater. In the meantime, you can delay the replacement by clearing the lines well after every significant idle period. For example, if you leave for vacation for a week and the water hasn’t been run at all, you could run the water for a bit to clear the pipes.

The problem with the above method is that it is temporary and wasteful. Flushing the lines with chlorinated bleach can be a more practical (if a bit more involved) solution, as chlorine can kill sulfur bacteria.

Sulfur Bacteria In Well Water

Instead of replacing the entire hot water heater, you can replace the magnesium anode on your unit. However, this can be a bit overwhelming if you are not an experienced plumber, and you may not fix the problem to your liking. Additionally, removing the anode can limit the remaining lifespan of your hot water heater.

Treated Water and Filtered Water

If the issue arises from a contamination problem stemming from your well water, you may find it necessary to install a whole-home water filtration system. Treated water and filtered water treat the problem at the source, which can save a considerable amount of money and help to protect your plumbing, appliances, and your water quality.

Whole-home water filtration systems will not only alleviate the smell of rotten eggs that comes with sulfur in well water, but they can help protect against other harmful chemicals that may be lurking in your water.

Whole Home Water Treatment for Sulfur In Water

Call a Water Treatment Professional

If you are concerned that you may have sulfur in your well water or your water smells like eggs, Aqualiute US is here to help you determine your water quality issues with an in-home test. This will determine the cause of the smell and the severity of the problem, and the professional can help guide you on what to do next.

If you live in the New England area and have other questions regarding your plumbing or water quality, we can help. Take a look at our blog to address concerns or answer any questions you might have on water quality.

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