My water smells awful, almost like rotten eggs! Why is that?
Your water and rotten eggs have something in common: sulfur. This commonly occurring mineral is contained within egg yolks, and it occurs naturally in large underground deposits scattered throughout our area. As water passes through these sulfur deposits, it dissolves the mineral. The dissolved sulfur travels in the water until it enters your home. When the water comes out of the pipe, the dissolved sulfur instantly mixes with the oxygen in the air to form a foul-smelling gas (even in small and harmless quantities), hydrogen sulfide.

This problem can be constant, or it can come and go with the seasons-or even appear or disappear for years at a time. Because the sulfur is dissolved in the water, its presence may vary with fluctuations in the water table or shifts in the ground rock surrounding your well. Anything that changes what layers of rock your water travels through can alter the amount of sulfur in it. Drought causes the water table to drop, while heavy rains cause it to rise. Undetected earth tremors cause cracks in the rock, exposing new sulfur deposits or closing up old ones.

If your problem occurs seasonally, it's probably tied to the fluctuation of the water table. While the smell is annoying, it's harmless and you may choose to live with the problem.

Eliminating the Problem
If you find that you are constantly plagued with the sulfur odor, you may want to take steps to eliminate it. This can be accomplished by doing 1 of several things:
  • You can abandon your well and connect to a public water supply if it is available.
  • You can install a water treatment system designed to remove hydrogen sulfide gas.
  • You may choose to install an automatic chlorinator.

Each of these alternatives has its positive and negative points that will require doing a little homework. You will want to research your options and make a decision based upon initial cost; maintenance and repair; and resale value. Do web searches using the key words: hydrogen sulfide, water, and treatment. Visit the library and look for books or articles on water treatment and well water supplies. Talk to your neighbors about what they have done in response to the problem. Once you've gotten a good idea of what you want, contact several water treatment companies and plumbers to locate 1 who can install the system to fit your needs.

Show All Answers

1. Where may I obtain a private water supply test kit, and how much do they cost?
2. What will the lab be testing my water to discover?
3. How do I take the test?
4. My water sample report came back "Unsatisfactory". What does that mean?
5. Is this serious?
6. What will we need to do to take care of this situation?
7. How soon after disinfection should I take a follow-up sample?
8. My sample came back "unsatisfactory" again. Now what do I do?
9. What types of problems can cause on-going contamination?
10. My water system and septic system have been examined and we could not find the source of contamination. What can I do to assure a safe water supply?
11. My water smells awful, almost like rotten eggs! Why is that?
12. My water has a metallic taste and/or I see rust stains in my plumbing fixtures and on my clothes. Why?
13. When my water sits in a glass, sediment forms in the bottom. Why?
14. My physician told me to have my water tested for fluoride and/or nitrates. Can you help me?