It’s crucial to have good, clean potable water in your home that is free from any odors to keep you and your family clear of health risks. If you’ve noticed that your water smells like sulfur and your sink smells bad, this guide is for you.
Here, we’ll talk about the causes, the health risks associated with it, and most importantly, how to fix it.
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What Causes Water to Smell Like Sulfur?
If you’ve asked yourself, “why does my water smell like sulfur?” it’s due to hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). In your water supply, there is a naturally occurring ion called sulfate. In moderate concentrations, this sulfate is virtually undetectable.
There are, however, instances where it can turn into hydrogen sulfide:
- 1High sulfur-reducing bacteria within the water supply
- 2A corroded magnesium or aluminium anode rod
- 3Naturally occurring – a result of decay and chemical reactions within soil and rocks
- 4Sulfur bacteria or any chemical reactions that occur within water heaters
Below are some ways hydrogen sulfide gets into specific water sources.
- 1Well Water
If you’ve asked yourself, 'why does my well water smell like sulfur?' It's because hydrogen sulfide gas occurs naturally in some groundwater. The sulfur smell in well water is not pleasant and is typically formed from decaying plant material found in deep or shallow wells. The hydrogen sulfide gas is the reason why your well water smells like sulfur.
- 2Tap Water
Wondering why your water smells like sulfur in one faucet and not the other? If the smell is from your hot water, it’s likely from the water heater in your house. If only your cold water smells like sulfur, the problem likely exists within your drains or pipes. If your tap water smells like sulfur or your sink water smells like sulfur, it could be an issue with the plumbing or groundwater.
- 3Water Heater
What causes a sulfur smell in hot water? A water heater can cause that sulfur smell as it provides an ideal environment for sulfate to become hydrogen sulfide gas. This can be produced in two ways:
Typically, if your hot water smells like sulfur, it’s likely attributed to the magnesium metal anode, which has electrons that help to convert sulfate to hydrogen sulfide gas.
How to Tell If Your Water At Home Contains Hydrogen Sulfide?
Below are some ways you can tell if your water at home contains hydrogen sulfide.
Is Sulfur Water Safe To Drink?
It depends on exactly how much sulfate or hydrogen sulfide is in your water. Likely, you won’t have serious health issues unless they’re found in very high concentrations. In high concentrations, however, hydrogen sulfate can cause the following problems:
How to Remove Sulfur from Water
Here are some ways that you can remove sulfur from water.
From Well Water
Wondering how to get rid of the sulfur smell in well water?
Disinfecting the well and plumbing system with a strong chlorine solution should remove the sulfur smell from well water. You can do this on your own or hire a professional to help you.
In some cases, you might have to do pre-work (scrubbing the well casing and using special treatment chemicals). In such instances, try to contact a professional to help you.
If the bacteria is in the water softener or other treatment devices, you can contact the installer for help.
From Tap Water
Whether you’re getting rid of a sulfur smell in the water of your new house or a place you’ve been living in for a while, here are some ways to remove it:
From Water Heaters
Thinking about how to fix the sulfur smell in your hot water? It could be due to your water heater. With water heaters, try not to do it on your own and instead have a plumber or professional assist you.
Other Bad Water Smells & Causes
Other foul smells can come from water, and we’ll briefly discuss them below:
Dirty or Earthy Smells
Dirty or earthy smells can be attributed to iron bacteria in your water supply. While not harmful, it can also have a bad taste. You’d likely also notice slime in your toilet’s tank or plumbing fixtures. An effective way to treat it is to use a chlorine chemical feed system to reduce bacteria effectively.
Fishy Drinking Water
Most of the time, fishy drinking water is due to naturally occurring organic material. You could be dealing with increased levels of barium, cadmium, or chloramine. To remove these contaminants, you want to utilize reverse osmosis water filters to leave you with clean and fresh water.
Bleach, Chlorine, Pool Smell
If you’ve got a bleach or pool smell, you likely live in the city. Typically, chlorine is added to public water for disinfection purposes. You may also have this issue if you’re close to a distribution plant. To remove chlorine, you can do so with most types of household water filters.
People also Ask (FAQs)
Can you shower in sulfur water?
It is generally safe to shower if your shower water smells like sulfur, but it depends on the sulfur levels. If you have a high amount of sulfur in your shower water, it could irritate your skin.
Is sulfur bad for hair?
Interestingly, sulfates help to strip oil and dirt away from your hair. Too much sulfate, however, can leave your hair dry and unhealthy. They can also cause your scalp to be prone to irritation.
How can I test water with hydrogen sulfide? Can I send samples to a lab?
Hydrogen sulfide is detectable by taste and smell, so you don’t need to send your water to a lab to detect it. However, if you want to determine the amount of hydrogen sulfide in your water, you will need to send it to a certified lab.
Does hydrogen sulfide get into the body?
Hydrogen sulfide does not accumulate in the body, but prolonged exposure can result in side effects such as headache, loss of appetite, and more.
If your water smells or tastes like sulfur, the next step is determining where it’s coming from. Once you’ve got a good idea of the source, you can either solve the issue on your own or seek the help of a professional. Having your water smell like sulfur is not a pleasant experience but is an issue that you can easily rectify.
Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.