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Why Does My Water Smell Like Sulfur?

If you’ve ever turned on your faucet and been greeted with the smell of rotten eggs, it’s not pleasant.

The smell comes from hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, a colorless gas that announces its presence with a very distinct stench.

The good news is that your water most likely contains anywhere from 0.01-0.05 mg/l of hydrogen sulfide.

And at levels this low, hydrogen sulfide does not pose any health risks.

Still, it’s gross and you want it gone. We’ll show you the 2 most common sources of the smell in your water and how to get rid of it.

Your water heater

Signs the water heater is the source:

  • The smell is only coming from hot water
  • Your water smells the worst after long periods of not running the water (i.e. in the mornings)

How it gets there:
This is most likely a result of the anode rod. Most water heaters contain a “sacrificial” anode rod that prevents the water tank from corroding. This rod breaks down sulfates in the water into hydrogen sulfide gas, creating the rotten egg smell.

If you haven’t used your water heater for a while, (e.g. in a vacation home) allows the bacteria to accumulate. Then higher-than-normal (and perhaps unsafe) levels of hydrogen sulfide get released when you turn on the hot water.

How to fix it:

  1. Get your water heater flushed
  2. Look into replacing your anode rod with a zinc-coated aluminum rod, which doesn’t produce as much hydrogen sulfide gas.

A professional can clean your water heater and replace the rod for one that better controls the amount of hydrogen sulfide.

The city’s (or your well’s) water supply

Signs the water supply is the source:

  • Your water smells all the time (not just in mornings/after not being used for long periods of time)
  • The smell is coming from both cold and hot water

How it gets there:
You may be receiving water from your water provider or well that already has hydrogen sulfide in it. Usually, the water treatment process removes most hydrogen sulfide from the water but low levels of the gas can still make it into your home, especially if you use well water.

How to fix it:

  • If the water tastes so bad that it is undrinkable, it may have unsafe levels of hydrogen sulfide. If this is the case, contact the Sarasota Health Department or well owner.
  • If the water tastes fine but just smells, consider a whole-home water filtration system.

Note: If you’re unsure about the H2S levels in your water, Plumbing Today offers free water quality tests that can measure the safety of your water.

A whole-home water filtration system gets rid of hydrogen sulfide before your water ever reaches you. It uses natural minerals and compounds to absorb and remove the gas from your water. That means no more foul-smelling water for you and your family.

These advanced filters are also a reliable way to rid your water of other contaminants including:

  • Chlorine
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Lead
  • Etc.

Ready for cleaner, better smelling water?

Plumbing Today offers a wide range of effective whole-home water filtration systems.

Contact our Sarasota plumbers to schedule your appointment today for a free water test.