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  • Writer's pictureWest Winds Water Well

Why Does My Well Water Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

If you are starting to notice that sulfur smell in your well water, commonly referred to as the rotten egg smell, then its time to get your well water tested and cleaned. Here are some facts about why your water is starting to smell and what you can do about it.

Water well smells like rotten eggs test for coliform bacteria

Hydrogen Sulfide

If you start to notice an bad smell coming from your water that smells like rotten eggs, this is the smell of hydrogen sulfide in the water. It typically isn't harmful because it is a very diluted amount compared to the water that it is in.

However, there are a few unpleasant results of hydrogen sulfide.

  • Hydrogen Sulfide causes a terrible rotten egg smell.

  • Causes discoloration of water that is unappetizing

  • It can alter the taste of the water you drink and the food you cook.

  • Corrodes metals such as steel, copper, iron and brass.

  • Water high in corrosive metals and hydrogen sulfide cause discoloration of silver, brass and copper silverware.

  • Hydrogen sulfide is a gas created by sulfate. High levels of sulfate concentration, though a natural mineral, can take on a laxative effect.

Hydrogen Sulfide is a combination of iron and sulfur bacteria. These two bacteria, though harmful, are commonly present in groundwater and specifically in water well systems. These bacteria thrive in iron-rich environments with decaying plants and soil. The sulfur is an element of sulfate which actually has no odor. The odor comes when the iron bacteria and sulfur combine into a gas. Sulfate can be tested with a kit or in a lab, but hydrogen sulfide has to be tested on the well site.

Hydrogen Sulfide and other bacterias that cause odors are preventable. Learn about proper well maintenance.

Do the Hot and Cold Test

Before taking the necessary steps to clean your water well, first you will want to make sure the smell is actually coming from your water well. One way to test this is to smell the water when you are running hot water and then compare the smell to when you run it cold. If there is no smell when the water is cold, then the smell is likely coming from your water heater. The reason for this is the same as the well water smell. The metals are mixing with sulfur and iron bacterias. Typically water heaters have a magnesium rod in the heater to reduce corrosion. However, it increases hydrogen sulfide gasses. This can be eliminated with a water heater odor killer fairly simply. If you smell the odor in the cold water test, then its time to get your well serviced by a professional. A professional will be able to test the water and help you determine if the well is producing the smell. In some cases, the well water system is clean but the pipes in the house are old and producing hydrogen sulfide.

Fix smelly well water with well water treatment

How to fix smelly well water

If you well has not been properly maintained or disinfected then you will likely end up in a situation where you are going to have to have your well system treated and disinfected. You first want to clean and sanitize the water but also you want to prevent the issue from coming back.

Here are a few options to consider:

  • Install a chlorine or hydrogen peroxide injector at the well head. This will inject chlorine or hydrogen peroxide into the water when it is running. If you choose this option, you will need to also install a filter system to make sure any residual chlorine is removed before the water enters the home.

  • You can also add a filter system to filter out some of the bacteria before entering the home. This doesn't require the use of chemicals to be added and you can go several years without needing to change out the filter.

  • An air compressor Tank Aeration system can also help prevent odors due to the injection of very high pressure air.

At West Winds Water Well we can test your water, sanitize your well system and helping you set up preventative systems as well.

If you have any questions about the odor in your well water or any other well related questions, give us a call 24/7 435.660.0342.

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