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Ask Furr: Noticing smelly water. What’s the Cause?

Question submitted by Courtney S. Fairfax VA

You might have noticed it only here and there at first…but then it became more prominent. Finally you’ve realized that the smell of rotten eggs is coming from your sink!

We know that this is a rough place to be. It can be embarrassing when guests are over, and downright obnoxious when you’re washing dishes….not to mention the fact that washing your hands in smelly water just feels wrong!

So what is the source of this odious odor, you may ask. Well, there could be a number of different culprits:

  1. Bacteria – sulfate-reducing bacteria can change natural sulfate and its compounds into hydrogen sulfide gas
  2. Your Water Heater – it may be providing a ripe environment for the growth of sulfate-reducing bacteria
  3. Decomposing organic matter/chemical reactions of minerals in soil and rock with that of sulfuric minerals

Not only is this problem nasty, it has the potential to clog your pipes and plumbing fixtures as the sulfide-reducing bacteria generates glop and gunk! The gas that the bacteria produce may also stain plumbing fixtures black and further corrode your pipes!

Here is some helpful information as you “play bloodhound” and determine the origin of that horrific odor:

Turn on the water from both the hot and cold taps (you may want to do this at a time when your sense of smell is keener from having been away). You may want to conduct this experiment when you come home from work in the evening, or after returning from a trip to the grocery store. Take these facts into consideration:

  1. When you smell the odor from the hot water tap, your water heater may be the problem
  2. When you smell the odor from both taps, but it disappears after running a while, chances are you have sulfur – reducing bacteria somewhere in your pipes
  3. When you smell the odor from both taps and you use water softener, the water softener may be the cause due to presence of sulfur-reducing bacteria
  4. When you smell the odor continually from both taps, your ground water may have hydrogen sulfide gas

There are many different reasons your water could be causing your home to smell. Calling in the professionals for this issue is a must! At F.H. Furr, our technicians will give you advice and options on what you can do to eliminate those pesky odors for good! Schedule today and get a Plumber In Your Home for Free!

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