Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

Have you ever turned on the faucet only to be greeted by an unpleasant, sulfur-like smell? It’s a common problem that many people face, but it doesn’t have to be an ongoing issue. In this blog post, we’ll discuss the sources of that notorious water smells like rotten eggs issue and provide practical solutions to help you restore your water’s freshness.

We’ll explore the three main culprits behind the sulfur smell, delve into the health implications, and guide you through the process of addressing the problem in your home. By the end of this post, you’ll be equipped with the knowledge and tools to banish that water that smells like rotten eggs from your water for good!

Short Summary

  • Understand 3 main contributors to the rotten egg smell in water: hydrogen sulfide gas, sulfur bacteria & iron bacteria.
  • Regular maintenance and water testing are important for preventing unpleasant odors.
  • Solutions like the PurAClear Chlorine Injection System and the Corro-Protec Powered Anode Rod can help remove sulfur smells from your home’s water supply.

Understanding the Rotten Egg Smell in Water

To tackle the sulfur smell in water effectively, it’s essential first to understand its origins. The three main contributors to this unpleasant odor are hydrogen sulfide gas, sulfur bacteria, and iron bacteria. Identifying the source is crucial for selecting the appropriate solution and preventing future occurrences of the smell.

So, what are these sources, and how do they produce that awful rotten egg smell in water? Let’s break down each of the three primary causes and explore their characteristics.

Hydrogen Sulfide Gas

Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless gas. It is produced both naturally and through human activities. It commonly arises from the decomposition of plant and animal material or as a byproduct of bacterial sulfate reduction in low-oxygen environments. In some instances, industrial runoff can enter private wells, introducing hydrogen sulfide into the water supply. This gas is responsible for the notorious rotten egg smell that many people experience in their water.

When hydrogen sulfide gas is present in your hot water, it could be due to a chemical reaction occurring inside your water heater. This reaction typically involves sulfur bacteria and the magnesium anode rod within the water heater. If you notice that the smell is only present in your hot water, it’s a strong indicator that your water heater requires servicing or maintenance.

Sulfur Bacteria

Sulfur bacteria are microorganisms that thrive in environments with warm temperatures and low oxygen levels. They need sulfur for their growth. These bacteria can generate hydrogen sulfide gas, contributing to the rotten egg smell in water. Sulfur bacteria can also aid iron bacteria growth, making it even more challenging to eradicate the smell.

To prevent the growth of sulfur bacteria in your water supply, regular maintenance is crucial. By keeping your water systems clean and well-maintained, you can minimize the opportunity for these bacteria to multiply and create unpleasant odors.

Iron Bacteria

Iron bacteria are microorganisms that exist in the environment. They occur when iron or manganese combines with oxygen in soil or shallow groundwater. These bacteria can produce hydrogen sulfide gas, exacerbating the sulfur smell in water.

By addressing the presence of iron bacteria, you can significantly decrease the likelihood of encountering a rotten egg smell in your water.

Health Implications of Sulfur-Smelling Water

While the rotten egg smell in water might be off-putting, it’s essential to know that consuming water with hydrogen sulfide, sulfur bacteria, and iron bacteria is not a serious health risk. However, it’s important to recognize that excessive sulfur consumption can lead to diarrhea, sour stomach, and dehydration.

Now that we understand the health implications of sulfur-smelling water, let’s explore how to address the issue and ensure the safety of your water supply.

Drinking Water Safety

It’s generally safe to consume water with a strong rotten egg smell, as long as the odor isn’t due to sewage or other harmful contaminants. However, it’s best to filter the water to remove the unpleasant smell and ensure the water is pleasant to drink.

By addressing the source of the sulfur smell and using appropriate filtration methods, you can restore your drinking water’s freshness and enjoy a clean, odor-free supply.

Possible Symptoms

Consuming water with a sulfur smell can result in some discomforts, such as diarrhea and dehydration due to the high sulfate content, which can have a laxative effect. Inhaling hydrogen sulfide gas from the water can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, headache, dizziness, nausea, and vomiting. At higher levels, it can even cause shock, convulsions, coma, and death.

By proactively addressing the sulfur smell in your water, you can avoid these unpleasant symptoms and ensure a safe, healthy water supply for your household.

Addressing the Rotten Egg Smell in Your Home

Once you’ve identified the source of the sulfur smell in your water, it’s time to take action and restore the freshness of your water supply. Addressing the issue promptly not only improves the quality of your water, but also helps prevent any potential health issues related to consuming water with a sulfur smell.

In the following sections, we’ll explore various methods to address the rotten egg smell in your home, including inspecting water heaters, checking water softeners, cleaning well and plumbing systems, and treating groundwater.

Inspecting Water Heater

As we mentioned earlier, one common source of sulfur smell in water is the water heater. When sulfur bacteria come into contact with the magnesium anode rod within the water heater, it produces hydrogen sulfide gas, resulting in the rotten egg smell. If you notice that only your hot water smells like sulfur, it’s likely time to service or maintain your water heater.

To address this issue, start by flushing your hot water heater, which can help remove the sulfur smell. If the problem persists, consult with the manufacturer or dealer to ensure your pressure relief valve is working correctly and get further recommendations.

For any repairs or maintenance, it’s best to call a plumber or water system professional.

Checking Water Softener

Another potential source of the sulfur smell in water is the water softener. Sulfur and iron bacteria can grow in water softeners, leading to the rotten egg smell. To check if your water softener is contaminated, disconnect your faucet from the water softener and see if the smell persists.

If your water softener is the culprit, hire a licensed expert to perform professional maintenance and cleaning. Regular maintenance can help prevent the growth of sulfur and iron bacteria, ensuring your water softener doesn’t contribute to the sulfur smell in your water.

Cleaning Well and Plumbing System

Bacteria growth in your well and plumbing system can also contribute to the sulfur smell in water. To address this issue, scrub the walls of your well with a special treatment chemical, and then perform a shock chlorination, which involves adding a large amount of chlorine or peroxide to the water system to eliminate bacteria and contaminants. It’s best to have a professional handle this process, and it should be done regularly to maintain the cleanliness of your water system.

Additionally, ensure proper ventilation in your well by checking the condition of the well cap and making sure it has adequate ventilation. This can help prevent the growth of sulfur and iron bacteria, keeping your water supply free of the rotten egg smell.

Treating Groundwater

Groundwater contamination can also contribute to the sulfur smell in water. To treat groundwater, consider investing in a whole house water filter, which provides constant protection against contaminants, including hydrogen sulfide, sulfur bacteria, and iron bacteria.

Alternatively, use chemical treatments like hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach to remove high levels of hydrogen sulfide from water. In some cases, installing an iron filter can also effectively address the sulfur smell in well water by removing hydrogen sulfide and iron bacteria.

Preventing Future Sulfur Smells in Water

To prevent future sulfur smells in your water supply, it’s essential to practice regular maintenance and perform water testing. By staying proactive in monitoring your water quality and addressing any issues promptly, you can ensure that your water remains fresh and free of that unpleasant rotten egg smell.

Regular Maintenance

Performing regular maintenance on your water systems is crucial to preventing future sulfur smells. Depending on the filter size and type, replace your filters every 2-12 months.

Periodically inspect your water systems, and perform necessary maintenance tasks to keep them in optimal condition.

Water Testing

Water testing is an essential practice for monitoring your water quality and identifying any potential issues, such as the presence of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria. Various methods and tools are available for water testing, including lead acetate test paper, litmus paper strips, and chemical tests that change color when hydrogen sulfide is present.

By regularly testing your water, you can identify any potential issues early and take the necessary steps to address them before they become a more significant problem. This proactive approach can help you maintain a high-quality water supply, free of unpleasant odors and contaminants.

Effective Solutions for Removing Sulfur Smell

In addition to the steps we’ve discussed, there are also specific products designed to eliminate the sulfur smell in water effectively. Two such solutions are the PurAClear Chlorine Injection System and the Corro-Protec Powered Anode Rod.

Both of these products have been proven to effectively address the rotten egg smell in water, ensuring the freshness and safety of your water supply.

PurAClear Chlorine Injection System

The PurAClear chlorine injection system is a highly effective solution for removing contaminants like hydrogen sulfide, sulfur bacteria, and iron bacteria from your water supply. Utilizing precise dosage and removal of chlorine, the PurAClear system offers superior performance compared to other chlorine injection systems, which may rely on inaccurate measurements and result in excessive chlorine use.

In addition to its effectiveness in eliminating contaminants, the PurAClear system also includes a carbon filter that removes chlorine before it reaches your home. This ensures that your water is both clean and free of the unpleasant sulfur smell, as well as safe for consumption.

Corro-Protec Powered Anode Rod

The Corro-Protec powered anode rod is another excellent solution for removing the rotten egg smell in hot water and protecting your water heater for years to come. Made of titanium and offering a 20-year warranty, this anode rod supplies a small amount of current into the water heater, preventing energy loss from all metals inside the water heater and effectively stopping corrosion.

By using the Corro-Protec powered anode rod, you can quickly address the sulfur smell in your hot water and maintain the longevity of your water heater. This long-term solution provides both odor control and corrosion protection, ensuring the continued quality and safety of your water supply.


In conclusion, dealing with a rotten egg smell in your water supply can be both inconvenient and unpleasant. By understanding the sources of the sulfur smell, addressing the issue proactively, and maintaining your water systems, you can restore your water’s freshness and enjoy a clean, odor-free supply.

Don’t let the sulfur smell in your water ruin your daily routines. Take action today and invest in the appropriate solutions to eliminate the smell and ensure the quality and safety of your water supply. Your family and your home will thank you!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it safe that my water smells like rotten eggs?

No one wants to drink water that smells like rotten eggs, so it’s understandable to be concerned about its safety. In most cases, the smell is caused by harmless sulfur compounds and your water is safe to drink.

However, it’s worth checking with your local water authority to make sure your water is free from contaminants.

How do I fix smelly tap water?

To fix smelly tap water, first disinfect and clean the drain. Then flush out any bacteria from the water heater by increasing the temperature to 160°F (71°C) for several hours.

Finally, clean and maintain the pressure tank periodically to prevent any odors from growing in the future.

What does it mean when your water smells like sulfur?

Having water that smells like sulfur is a sign that there could be something wrong with your plumbing, water heater, or even the local water supply. Sulfur bacteria naturally occurring in groundwater, wells, and plumbing systems can produce hydrogen sulfide gas, giving your water an unpleasant smell.

Is sulfur water harmful?

In short, drinking sulfur water is potentially harmful as it can cause diarrhea and dehydration.

Therefore, it is best to contact your local health authority if you detect sulfur in your drinking water.

What does sulfur smell like?

Sulfur is often described as having a pungent “rotten egg” smell. This odor is caused by hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gas that is created when sulfur reacts with other elements, such as iron or manganese.