Why Well Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs


Is your well water healthy yet you notice a rotten egg smell? This is happening because there is dissolved sulfur in the well and it is releasing hydrogen sulfide, a toxic gas. Sometimes, this rotten egg smell may not be from the groundwater; it could be from the reaction. However, if your water gives off a nasty smell, you need to seek assistance from water treatment companies.

What Causes Well Supply to Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

The major cause of the rotten egg smell is hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria. These bacteria are present in places where there is no oxygen such as deep wells. You can also find this issue in places where there are organic matters and plumbing systems.

Therefore, if you notice the problem when you turn on your hot tap, the heater is likely the challenge. Usually, when the aluminum and magnesium rods in the heater produce hydrogen sulfide, they cause that sulfur smell. You can check out https://sciencing.com/galvanize-metal-8613414.html to find out when you should change the rod in your heater.

How to Know When Your Well Contains Sulfur

The following will help you discover the presence of sulfur in your well before it becomes unhealthy:

  1. Regular water testing using a test kit.
  2. Hiring a technician to test the supply every year.
  3. Lookout for bacterial slime. It may be reddish-brown, white, grey, or black.
  4. Look out for black or yellow stains on plumbing fixtures and silverware.
  5. Inspect your distribution system regularly for corrosion on the metal components and pipes.

How to Treat the Smell in Your Well Supply

The first thing to do about the problem is to test your well supply to ensure the chemical and bacteria levels are correct. This will help to supply your home with clean water. After identifying where the sulfur bacteria or hydrogen sulfide is coming from, you need to properly ventilate the supply for the gas to escape.

In addition, if your heater is the cause of the problem, consult a specialist to take care of the magnesium rod. Alternatively, flush some chlorine bleach into your heater or install a filter to get rid of impurities such as sulfur bacteria.

Should You Test Your Well Supply for Anything Apart from Hydrogen Sulfide?

Anything, including human activities and natural sources, can contaminate your well supply apart from hydrogen sulfide. They also cause both long- and short-term health problems. Therefore, you need to test for other contaminants. Because you can’t smell, taste, or see most contaminants, you need to test for the following:

  1. Coliform – test annually and whenever your water has a different appearance, taste, or odor. The bacteria indicate the presence of microorganisms that can cause diseases.
  2. Arsenic – test at least once in the lifetime of your well because arsenic can result in reduced IQ in children when consumed for longer periods. It also increases the risks of skin problems, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.
  3. Nitrate – test annually because bottle-fed children under 6 months stand a high chance of being affected. You can check out this website to discover the dangers of consuming nitrate.
  4. Lead – a well has many parts containing lead, so there is a possibility that some of the lead will diffuse into your supply. Lead can cause damage to the nervous system, brain, and kidneys. It can also lead to stunted growth or hearing, learning, and behavior problems.
  5. Manganese – test before your baby drinks from the supply. Consuming a high level of manganese can result in problems with motor skills, memory, and attention. Also, it can cause behavior and learning problems in children and infants.

How to Improve Well Distribution Quality

Irrespective of the source of the smell, you can use the following tips to improve the quality of your well distribution supply:

Tip 1

Check the smell as well as its source, either your hot water or the well itself. Run your tap and observe whether there will be any strange odor. If you perceive a sulfur smell, it may be hydrogen sulfide. Additionally, if you perceive an oily smell, there is manganese in the supply.

Furthermore, sulfates such as iron can react with the rods in your heater. Changing the rods to aluminum will stop the production of hydrogen sulfide, thereby, reducing the rotten egg smell. Ensure you find an expert to handle this issue professionally. Your family members or friends can recommend experienced water treatment companies around your location.

However, if you are not comfortable with the idea of removing the rods in your heater, you can get a safe odor killer like hydrogen peroxide. This will remove the smell, leaving you with a clean portable supply.

Tip 2

Another way of improving your supply quality is by testing different sources to know the real cause of the problem. If your water comes from public distribution and you perceive the smell only when you run cold water, you must contact your water utility company immediately. But if it is from your well, you will carry out an analysis to ascertain the ideal treatment method.

The analysis will include minerals such as iron and manganese. Some other tests may include sulfate, tannin, and hydrogen sulfide. You need to carry out these tests near your well to better understand the treatment method based on the chemistry. You also need to test for coliform and e. coli to be sure the water is healthy for consumption.

Tip 3

When your well water smells like rotten eggs, you can remove the impurities in it with a filter. There are many companies that offer proper guidance on the installation of water filters. This treatment procedure can eliminate more bacteria than you can imagine. It can eliminate about 90% of the rotten egg smell and bacteria.


Water plays an important role in human existence. In fact, a major part of the human body is made up of water. Therefore, there is a need for access to a clean supply. If you notice a strange smell in your well distribution system, ensure you find the source and treat it immediately. Do not forget to contact a professional to assist you. Also, ensure you test your well as often as possible, so you can be sure of what you and your family members are consuming.


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