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How to Remove the Rotten Egg Smell in Water

by Jennifer Bellini

Marketing expert, Business guru

> 2 min read


If you can detect a distinctive odor that smells like rotten eggs whenever you drink tap water from your kitchen faucets or turn on your showerhead to wash, this is a sign that your household water supply is contaminated. 

Fortunately, this form of contamination is very easy to identify. If you manage to miss the pungent aroma, you’ll notice the black stains in your bathtub or the grayish sludge in your pipelines, or the rim of your faucets. Once you suspect your water supply contains traces of hydrogen sulfide gas, you can take a series of simple, actionable steps to solve the issue and eliminate the awful smell.

HERE ARE OTHER QUESTIONS THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE ABOUT WATER:

What’s Causing the Rotten Egg Smell in Your Water Supply? 

If you notice that distinctive rotten egg smell in your water supply, this may be because the water contains a disproportionately high amount of sulfur bacteria, sulfate ions, or hydrogen sulfide gas. Hydrogen sulfide gas is typically the main cause of the putrid smell coming from your tap water when you turn on appliances. 

As well as emitting a pungent smell, hydrogen sulfide can also cause health issues for you and the rest of the household. If you ingest too much of this gas when you drink contaminated tap water, you risk developing long-term fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, and nausea. 

If you suspect that there’s an elevated amount of hydrogen sulfide in your household water supply, you should take the suitable steps to solve the problem and purify your water.

How to Remove the Rotten Egg Smell in Your Water Supply: 2 Simple Steps 

Fortunately, it should be quite obvious that your water supply is contaminated with hydrogen sulfide gas. When you turn on your kitchen sink faucets or switch on the hot water supply for your shower, you may well smell or taste the pungent gas.

You also might notice a buildup of reddish-gray or black bacterial slime in your plumbing fixtures or around the rim of your faucets. If there are black or brown stains in your bathtub, kitchen sink, or showerhead, this is another sign that your water contains hydrogen or sulfide compounds. 

Once you’ve detected that your water is contaminated, you should follow these simple steps to deal with the problem.

Find the exact source of the smell 

Before you can determine how best to remove the rotten egg smell from your household supply, you’ll need to figure out this smell’s source. The easiest way to do this is to start with the hot and cold faucets in your kitchen or bathroom.

Turn on each faucet at a time to see if the smell comes from the hot or cold water line or both. If you can only smell rotten eggs when you turn on the hot water faucet, you know the source is probably your house’s water heater. On the other hand, if the smell comes from the cold water faucet, you should move on to the next part of the process. 

Now you’ll need to go around the house and turn on any faucets that aren’t attached to your water softener (if you have one). If you have a water softener and the odor is only coming from faucets and fixtures attached to this device, then the softener is probably the source of the smell. If you don’t have a water softener, or you have one, but the smell is coming from every single faucet or appliance in your house, you should move on to step two of the deduction process. 

Let the water run from the cold faucet for at least two minutes. If the smell becomes less intense, you can determine that the gas source is your local well or your home’s plumbing network. However, if the smell remains as intense as ever, you’ll know that there’s an issue with your household’s groundwater supply. 

Solve the problem accordingly

Once you’ve figured out the source of the hydrogen sulfide, you can take the steps necessary to sort out the problem and get rid of the rotten egg smell in your water supply. 

For example, if you think that the main issue is with your household water heater, you can check to see if this unit has an integrated magnesium or aluminum anode. If this sacrificial rod has broken down and corroded over time, it can react adversely with the sulfates in your water supply and create hydrogen sulfide. One way to solve this issue is to replace this anode. Ideally, you should call a licensed plumbing expert to do this job for you. 

You could also destroy any sulfates and other harmful bacteria in your water heater by turning up the unit’s temperature and leaving it for a few hours: the sulfur microbes won’t survive at heat levels of more than 160°F. 

If you’re sure the source of the smell is your water softener, you need to contact the manufacturer’s customer support services to see if they can send an expert over to your house to disinfect or replace the unit.

Those who think the issue is with their local well supply or their household plumbing network should pour a chlorine-based solution like bleach into the system to disinfect the water. However, if you do this, ensure you’re using a chlorine solution that doesn’t contain any chemical additives like detergent. You’ll also need to stock up on bottled water so that you have a clean supply for up to 24 hours. You shouldn’t drink water from your household supply at any point during the disinfection process. 

If there’s a major problem with your groundwater supply, contact your local authorities and look into the possibility of drilling a new local well. If that’s not an option, you’ll have to invest in a water treatment system for your household. 

Try to find a unit with integrated activated carbon media, oxidizing media, and continuous chlorination filtration. You’ll need to replace the activated carbon filter regularly to ensure it remains as effective as possible at removing hydrogen sulfide from your water supply. You can also look for a water filtration system with a sediment filter: this type of media removes sulfur bacteria from the supply.


Always Investigate Abnormal Odors in Your Water Supply 

If you smell an overwhelming odor whenever you turn on your faucets, you can deduce that your water supply contains excessive amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas. The best way to deal with this issue is to take some time to determine the exact source of the smell. That way, you can isolate the problem and take appropriate action to quickly and effectively remove the rotten egg smell from your water supply for safer drinking and washing water.

Jennifer Bellini

About the Author

Jennifer Bellini is a business guru who’s spent most of her life working in her home state of Wisconsin where she still lives with her family. Her experience lends itself best to sussing out the unique problems a business may face with their water quality. She is also our lead market analyst and is the driving force behind site growth.