Why does your water smell like rotten eggs?
Sometimes the smell that comes from your tap water can be so potent it becomes intolerable. This smell is similar to that of rotten eggs. If this is the case, then your drinking water likely contains hydrogen sulfide gas. Don’t worry, though; this is a common problem experienced by many households, particularly those that consume water coming from a still source such as a Lake Reservoir or well.
What leads to this smell?
This smell is caused by naturally occurring organic compounds that breed from decayed plant materials in lakes and reservoirs. The gas gets into the water through water coming in contact with:
Is sulfur harmful to your health?
The two water contaminants, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfates are generally not harmful to your health. However, even minuscule concentrations of these two contaminants will prevent you from drinking the water because of the potent taste and odor. Excess amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas can be harmful, though. You must either vent the gas to the atmosphere or remove it from the water. Venting will help stop the gas from collecting in low-lying areas such as basements or enclosed places like well houses. You must never enter or allow anyone who is not a professional to enter a well pit or enclosed area where hydrogen sulfide gas may be present.
Sulfur bacteria is also not harmful to your health though it produces slime, which is a breeding ground for other bacteria such as iron bacteria. This slime may also harbor disease-causing germs. Moreover, the slime may clog plumbing, wells, and irrigation systems.
The effects of sulfur as a water contaminant are directed less to health and more to plumbing fixtures. The component corrodes metals and sometimes reacts to them and leaves a black or yellow stain. This corrosion will eventually lead to leaking pipes.
How do you detect contaminated water?
Sometimes the levels of sulfur may be so low that you cannot taste or smell it. Here are some ways to detect if you have sulfur in your water.
Corrosion can be observed on metal components and pipes in the water distribution system. This may be a sign of hydrogen sulfide gas.
Testing water in a laboratory. You ought to consider testing our water because the smell of rotten eggs does not necessarily relate to the sanitary quality of your water. In some rare cases, the gas may come from pollution or sewage. You should test your water for coliform bacteria and nitrate to be safe.
Black and yellow stains on plumbing fixtures
Bacterial slime, which is grey, black, white, or reddish-brown.
How does a water heater produce hydrogen sulfide gas?
A water heater may provide a conducive environment for converting sulfate into hydrogen sulfide gas. This happens in two ways: It can create a warm environment suitable for sulfur bacteria. Second, it can sustain a reaction between the water heater anode and the sulfate in the water.
What should you do?
First, you have to find the source of the then you will know the best treatment option. To find the source, go away from your home for a few hours, then smell the water coming out of your cold and hot water faucets to determine which faucets have the rotten egg smell.
If the problem is in the water heater, then you need to hire a plumber or water system professional. This problem can be solved by:
Removing or replacing the magnesium anode: This is anode is found at the top of the water heater attached to the plug. It can be easily removed if you turn off the water, release the pressure from the heater then unscrew the plug. You must remember to plug the hole. It is important to note that removing the anode will shorten the life of the water heater. Replacing the anode is a better option, especially one made of different materials like aluminum. An aftermarket aluminum anode gives you corrosion protection and will not produce hydrogen sulfide gas.
Chlorination: Using a chlorine bleach solution to disinfect and flush the water heater will kill sulfur bacteria. However, if the process does not eliminate all the bacteria, the problem may reoccur in a few weeks.
Increasing the temperature in the water heater to 71 degrees Celsius (160 degrees Fahrenheit) for some hours. This process is dangerous and should be done by a professional who understands the make of the heater.
If the problem is in the plumbing system, water softener, or well then, this problem can be solved by:
Well disinfection: This process involves disinfecting the plumbing system and well with a strong chlorine solution. Any licensed well contractor can do this for you.
Pre-work: Dealing with sulfur bacteria once it’s established in a well is quite daunting. You will have to scrub the well casing, use special treatment chemicals, and agitate the water before disinfecting. This method is also used to remove iron bacteria and can be conducted by a licensed well contractor.
Device disinfection: If the bacteria are found in water treatment devices such as water softeners, you must contact the manufacturer, installer, or professional for disinfection instructions.