Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

There’s nothing good about turning on your shower faucet only to be hit with a stinky odor. Whether you’re brushing your teeth, washing your clothes, or preparing food, nobody wants to notice their water. If your water smells like rotten eggs, it may be due to a buildup of sulfur bacteria or hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in your water supply.

Hydrogen sulfide isn’t the only chemical lurking in your water. According to the Environmental Working Group, over 150 contaminants can be found in drinking water in the United States. In most cases, the levels are low enough that they’re acceptable under state laws and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Even though the levels may be acceptable, nobody wants their water to smell like rotten eggs.

Problems with H2S

Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) can be dangerous in high amounts – it’s poisonous and flammable. While smelly water is unappealing, the amount present in your drinking water is usually very low and won’t pose a health risk.

The levels of H2S in your drinking water probably won’t hurt you. However, over time, it can damage your pipes and can even corrode certain types of metal. The presence of H2S especially impacts steel, copper, and brass. In extreme cases, it can tarnish your silverware and plumbing fixtures.

The presence of H2S in your drinking water can affect the food you prepare with it. Coffee and tea may be slightly discolored or taste a little different. Food made with tap water that smells like rotten eggs may even taste a little different.

Sources of the Chemical

Sulfates and hydrogen sulfide gas can be present in your drinking water for a few reasons. Sulfates are a naturally occurring mineral in the ground, which means they can seep into your groundwater over time. Hydrogen sulfide gas forms from decomposing debris, such as plant material. Homes that pull water from a well are especially likely to experience the rotten egg smell. Other times, a chemical reaction in your water heater may be the cause of the hydrogen sulfide in your water.

It’s also possible that the stinky smell coming from your faucet may not be sulfur at all. If you smell something unusual when you’re near your sink or in the shower, it could be the drain. To test this, fill a glass of water and walk away from your sink. If it still smells like rotten eggs, the issue is in the water, not the drain.

In rare cases, the smell of rotten eggs is due to a different issue, such as sewage or other contaminants in the water supply. If you smell something in your water or plumbing system, it’s best to call a plumber to determine what’s causing the issue.

What Should You Do?

If your water smells like rotten eggs, you need to find the source of the problem. Start by checking all of the faucets in your house. Here are a few tips:

  • If you turn on your hot water and it smells like rotten eggs, but cold water smells normal, it could be an issue with your water heater. A plumber will be able to inspect your unit to determine if you can flush it to clear the smell.
  • When the hot and cold water smell like rotten eggs and you have a water softener, it could be an issue with the softener itself. Changing your solution may fix the issue.
  • If your hot or cold water only smells like rotten eggs for a few seconds, you could have an issue with your distribution system. This could also be a sign that there is a bigger problem with your water supply. A plumber will be able to inspect your plumbing system to diagnose the issue.

If you’re tired of smelling rotten eggs every time you turn on the faucet, or you’re concerned about the levels of sulfur in your water supply, contact a plumber. They can inspect your plumbing system and test your water, water line, and pipes to determine the source of the stink. Then they’ll create an actionable plan to resolve the issue.

If you’ve noticed your water smells like rotten eggs or your water has started to taste “funny,” contact Forrest Anderson today.