Have you recently turned on the tap in your house and found that your water smells like rotten eggs? Usually, this smell appears in hot water, which, naturally, means that it comes from your water heater. There are a number of different things that can generate this sulfuric, rotten egg smell in your water heater, but this odor is most commonly attributed to the presence of sulfate-reducing bacteria in your water tank, or a chemical reaction between your system’s magnesium anode rod and your water. If, however, this smell is present in both your hot and cold water, it’s likely coming from hydrogen sulfide gas in the groundwater below your house. Regardless of what the cause is though, no one likes smelling rotten eggs whenever they turn on the sink or step in the shower, so keep reading for the top five ways to get rid of the rotten egg smell in your water, courtesy of our experts at AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric.
If Your Water Has a Rotten Egg Odor, Try These Methods to Get Rid of It
- Flushing Your Tank Out: Assuming you have a tank water heater, and not a tankless system, one thing that may get rid of that rotten egg smell is completely flushing the water tank out. As any skilled water heater repair technician will tell you, this should be done once or twice a year anyway, to help get rid of sediment and bacteria build-up. While flushing your tank out may not eliminate this rotten egg smell forever, it should at least give you some relief for a time, while helping your water heater run more efficiently overall.
- Using Chlorine: You’re probably thinking right now that chlorine is the last thing you want to put in your water. And normally, you’d be right. But concentrated chlorination treatment, which involves adding a limited supply of chlorine bleach to your water supply, can actually help get rid of that rotten egg smell. Once the chlorine has been added to your water supply, you simply let your water run until that rotten egg odor dissipates. Just remember not to use your water for 24 hours after it has undergone concentrated chlorination treatment. The sulfuric smell in your water may also return months after you have completed the chlorination process, so this is not a long-term solution.For that, you’d be better off with…
- Replacing Your Anode Rod: All water heaters come equipped with an anode rod. This component reduces rust build-up in your water heater tank, allowing you to enjoy cleaner, better-smelling/tasting water. However, as we mentioned above, the chemical reaction that occurs between a magnesium anode rod and your system’s heating element can sometimes lead to bacteria build-up. While you should not remove your anode rod completely, as this means you will just be trading that rotten egg smell for rust, you may want to replace it with a different kind of anode rod. Aluminum anode rods are cheaper and tend to last longer than magnesium rods, although they come with their own set of problems since they deteriorate faster and can therefore contribute to sediment build-up in your tank and plumbing pipes. Fortunately, there are other cutting-edge anode rod options on the market that may prevent your heater tank from releasing this rotten egg smell and rusting faster. Bottom line—if your water heater is older, we highly suggest upgrading its anode rod with a modern model.
- Installing a Water Softening System: If that rotten egg smell is not coming from your water heater but from your water itself, a better solution may be to install a water filtration or water softening system. While these devices will not filter out all impurities from your water, they should help get rid of some of the bacteria that is causing the rotten egg smell in your water. They will also help your water to taste and feel better, reducing spots on your laundry and dishes and causing less irritation in your skin and hair. And as a final bonus, installing a whole-home water softener can even help your plumbing last longer, as there will be less sediment wearing down your pipes and fixtures.
- Replacing Your Water Heater: If you have tried everything and the rotten egg smell coming from your water heater is still not going away, it may be time to consider upgrading to a new system entirely. Luckily, at AAA Service Plumbing, Heating & Electric, we offer top-of-the-line water heater installations to ensure you get a replacement that works better and lasts longer. Contact our technicians today, and you can start enjoying better smelling/tasting/feeling water before you know it!