Rotten Egg Smell in Your Water

rotten egg smell in your water
If your Fayetteville NC water is smelling like rotten eggs, call Flow Rite Plumbing to help you solve the problem
May 12, 2020

If you have ever had chickens to get those farm fresh eggs, then for sure at one point in time you had cracked open the proverbial, "bad egg".  You are ready to eat that gorgeous omelette for breakfast one morning and right before you get ready to cook..crack, and GAG!

The smell of a rotten egg is horrendous and nauseating, but imagine living with that smell coming from your water?! You want to have a nice cold glass of Sweet Tea, but your ice smells so bad when you put the glass to your lips it just ruins the taste.

Luckily for you, with some simple detective work and following your nose, you can probably determine the culprit without incurring too much expense.

If, however, you cannot determine specifically where the smell is coming from, or you’ve tried our simple fixes, it could indicate a more serious problem and you should call a professional, like Flow-Rite Plumbing and Drain Services to inspect what the underlying issues may be.

The Cause Of The Rotten Egg Smell

Frrotten egg smell
Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

The reason your water probably smells like rotten eggs is because it contains some traces of hydrogen sulfide. Even extremely small amounts of hydrogen sulfide can build-up in your water heater and cause the corrosion of iron and steel to make your water have that terrible smell!  If you haven’t used your hot water heater in quite some time, this could be the cause of your odor.

Hydrogen sulfide isn’t the only chemical lurking in your water. According to the Environmental Working Group, over 150 contaminants can be found in drinking water in the United States. In most cases, the levels are low enough that they’re acceptable under state laws and the Safe Drinking Water Act. Even though the levels may be acceptable, nobody wants their water to smell like rotten eggs.

Sulfates and hydrogen sulfide gas can be present in your drinking water for a few reasons.

1) Sulfates are a naturally occurring mineral in the ground, which means they can seep into your groundwater over time.

2) Hydrogen sulfide gas forms from decomposing debris, such as plant material. Homes that pull water from a well are especially likely to experience the rotten egg smell.

3) A chemical reaction in your water heater may be the cause of the hydrogen sulfide in your water.

4) It’s also possible that the stinky smell coming from your faucet may not be sulfur at all. If you smell something unusual when you’re near your sink or in the shower, it could be the drain.
  • To test this, fill a glass of water and walk away from your sink. If it still smells like rotten eggs, the issue is in the water, not the drain.
5) In rare cases, the smell of rotten eggs is due to a different issue, such as sewage or other contaminants in the water supply.

If you smell something in your water or plumbing system, it’s best to call a professional plumbing company who has vast knowledge and experience dealing with these problems and determine what’s causing the smell.


Is It Harmful?

Is the rotten egg smell in my hot water harmful to my health?
Is the rotten egg smell in my hot water harmful to my health?

Despite the wretched tingling in your nose you might experience, the levels of hydrogen sulfide in your drinking water probably won’t hurt you.  If anything, all it does is provide an extreme nuisance when found in your water supply. That being said, over time, it can damage your pipes and can even corrode certain types of metal. The presence of hydrogen sulfide especially impacts steel, copper, and brass. In extreme cases, it can tarnish your silverware and plumbing fixtures.

The presence of H2S in your drinking water can affect the food you prepare with it. Coffee and tea may be slightly discolored or taste a little different. Food made with tap water that smells like rotten eggs may even taste a little different.

Determining the Source
Flow Rite Plumbing and Drain
What is making my water smell like rotten eggs? Let Flow Rite Plumbing and Drain help you!
Before we start to solve anything, first we need to figure out what exactly is causing the rotten egg smell. To do this try running both the hot and cold water in all the faucets in your house.
  • If the smell is coming from just your hot water, then the problem most likely exists from the hot water heater in your house
  • If the smell is coming from both water temperatures then it could be an issue with your plumbing or ground/well water.
  • If the smell is coming from isolated areas then the problem most likely exists in these drains or pipes and not your entire water supply.

Some other things that could cause the smell:
  • Natural Gas: Natural gas by itself does not emit any odor; that is why the utility companies inject a substance called mercaptan. Mercaptan emits a very distinctive smell of rotten eggs or a sulfur type odor.
    • Low levels of natural gas are not harmful; however, long-term exposure can affect your health. 
    • Physical symptoms might include:
      • dizziness
        • nausea
        • headache
        • eye and throat irritation
        • shortness of breath
        • difficulty breathing
        • pale skin
        • tiredness
  • Sewer Gas: Even low levels of exposure can affect the body. Sewer gas comes from decomposing solid waste, which contains methane, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia which can all be very toxic to humans and pets when inhaled.
    • Exposure to high levels of sewer gas can lead to death.
    • Physical symptoms might include:dizziness
      • nausea
      • light-headed
      • headache
      • pains in the chest
      • fatigue
      • eye and throat irritation
      • nosebleeds
      • ringing in the ears
      • difficulty breathing

What To Do Now?

Go with Flow Rite
If water goes through it, Flow Rite Plumbing can do it!
Let me preface this by saying, it is recommended you call a professional to help or take care of any of these things listed below so that nothing worse happens that could cause you more headaches or expenses later*

Clear Your Pipes

Turn on all the faucets in your house and allow them to run for about 10 minutes After this amount of time, turn them off. This should clear out your pipes and hopefully the smell will cease

Clear Your Water Heater

If you figure out the smell only comes from your hot water, then it might be wise to flush your water heater.

  • Without turning off your water supply, find a hose to connect to your drain valve of your water heater. Place the other end of the hose outside in a good place where excess water can run
  • After 10 minutes of draining, take a sample of the water. Fill up a cup and determine whether or not there are particles or little pieces of sediment in the cup.
  • Allow the heater to drain until there are no particles present

Disinfect Your Water Heater

You can also try disinfecting your water heater which is a very simple process. Simply turn the temperature of your water heater to 160 degrees and leave it run for a couple of hours. This should kill all bacteria in your water heater

Add Water Filters

Another fix to your rotten-egg smelling water could be as simple as installing water filters in your house. However, this may only be a temporary fix and you will have to replace your water filters every so often. It’s also important to note that filters could also be the cause of any rotten egg smell. Replace any if you notice particular sinks are carrying the odor.

 If you locate the cause of your rotten egg smell to be in your groundwater or local water source, this problem is going to be a little bit more challenging to solve. I would recommend calling your city or town first and see if they are experiencing this issue or if they had complaints from anyone else. If the problem is from your groundwater, it is advised to contact local Fayetteville or surrounding area professional plumber immediately so that they can come and help diagnose the situation.
Contact Us Now
*Please use these tips at your own risk. Flow-Rite Plumbing and Drain Services does not take any responsibility for any problems or mistakes that happen to your home, water heater, or plumb parts of your house.