Why Does My Water Smell Like Sulfur?

Have you noticed a strange smell when washing dishes, cleaning your face, or taking a shower? Sometimes, hot water can emit a rotten-egg smell, akin to sulfur. But why is that?

While there could be different reasons for that horrible smell, the most common reason is anaerobic bacteria in the water. They react with sulfur, magnesium, and aluminum sacrificial anodes in water heaters.

That chemical reaction results in hydrogen sulfide gas, the smell you’re trying to figure out. You’ll find this issue most often in well systems, whether that well is in your backyard or from the city.

How Water Heaters Play a Part

While it’s likely not a faulty water heater that is causing that rotten-egg smell, the heater does provide the perfect breeding ground. Sulfur bacteria grow and live in warm environments.

When It’s Not the Water Heater’s Fault

Sometimes, that sulfur smell has nothing to do with the water heater. It could happen in the groundwater or well instead because of decayed organic matter or chemical reactions with soil and rock that contain sulfur. In Arizona’s hard ground, we have all kinds of fun minerals that can add to that sulfur bacteria and create that lovely smell.

Pollution could also be the reason for the sulfur smell, and Phoenix has its fair share of that. Knowing what the cause of the smell is may be imperative for determining the solution.

Finding the Source

It’s pretty easy to notice there’s a problem when using the fixture. More often than not, the sulfur smell will be stronger coming from the hot-water side than the cold side. This is because the hot side vaporizes more of the gas. You may not even notice the smell most of the time, due to a bit of a dulling of your senses from smelling it all the time. It may not become noticeable until you’ve been away a while or when a friend comments on it.

If the smell is just on the hot side, it’s probably originating from the water heater. If you smell it from both faucets and you have a water softener, you might have sulfur bacteria living there. If you smell sulfur strongly when you first turn on the faucet there is sulfur bacteria in the well. If the smell is strong, then, you’re likely looking at an issue in the groundwater.

Solving the Problem

There are plenty of DIY solutions to the rotten-egg smell in your water, but perhaps the most common fix is to replace the anode in the water heater. So, if you have an older water heater, it’s probably ready to be replaced.

A way to solve this problem is by cleaning out the water heater. Other solutions include disinfecting the well, distribution center, or water-softening system

Your best bet is to call the plumbing experts at Forrest Anderson for a complete inspection of your plumbing system. Armed with comprehensive knowledge, you’ll be able to make the best choice for your home. Call us today to get started.

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