Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs

Eliminate That Rotten Egg Smell From Your Water


Do you notice a particularly nasty smell when you start to run your tap water? Could the water be described as smelling like rotten eggs or sulfur? If this has happened to you, don’t worry, we’re here to help. Surprisingly, this is a very common problem in many households and isn’t as devastating as you might think. Contrary to what you might be thinking now, this may not cost a lot of money in plumbing repairs as you might actually be able to fix the problem yourself. Let’s take a deeper look as to why your water smells like rotten eggs.

The Cause Of The Rotten Egg Smell

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 cause your water to have quite the odorous smell! In most cases this smell occurs due to a build-up of hydrogen sulfide in your hot water heater. If you haven’t used your hot water heater in quite some time, this could be the cause of your odor.

Is it Harmful?

Despite the wretched tingling in your nose you might experience, hydrogen sulfide is actually a non-health risk. If anything all it does is provide an extreme nuisance when found in your water supply. That being said, let’s figure out a way to get rid of your disgusting smell.

Determining the Source

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
  • Take note to see if the smell is coming from all of your faucets or just some in particular areas or rooms of your house. 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.

Actions You Can Take

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

Clear Your Hot Water Heater

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

  • Without turning off your water supply, find a hose to connect to your drain valve of your hot 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 Filter

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 distribution system, this problem is going to be a little bit more challenging to solve. I would recommend calling your local distribution center first and inquire to them about what the problem is and seeing if it’s possible for them to help. If the problem is from your groundwater, it might be best to contact a professional plumber immediately so that they can come and help diagnose the situation at hand.

10 thoughts on “Eliminate That Rotten Egg Smell From Your Water”

  1. Joe says:

    Informative but I was constantly distracted by the use of the term “hot water heater”…it’s a “water heater”…it doesn’t heat hot water

    1. Cindy Smart says:

      Joe you are correct

  2. Jeff says:

    Joe….for God’s sake get a hobby. Life is too short to be a jerk about something so petty.

  3. Gloria Watts says:

    We installed a new water heater because of rotten egg smell.still smells bad when turning on spigot how can I fix this?

  4. Lois Phlegar says:

    Very helpful. Thank you

  5. ginny says:

    I ran the water for 10 minutes and smell seems to be gone ..will see later thanks

  6. Rick says:

    Just successfully eliminated the rotten egg smell from the hot water heater and faucets in our guest house following your instructions:
    (1) flushing the hot water heater (plenty of black smelly sludge) until water was clear; (2) disinfecting the heater by setting water temperature to max.
    Thanks for the clear, easy-to-follow instructions!

    1. Chris says:

      Do you leave the water heater on max?

  7. Thomas says:

    The smell in the water heater could also be due to the anode. It may need replaced or even replaced with one that contains zinc to stop the production of hydrogen sulfide from the reaction of anaerobic bacteria with the aluminum or magnesium anodes. Most zinc anodes include aluminum in them but avoid the 100% aluminum ones if you keep experiencing the smell.

  8. KAREN BROWN says:

    I just switched from gas to electric…2 new hot water heaters in homes not occupied daily..(They are not used daily.) Each time that they water is turned on we heater smells bad….is there something to do that will prevent it altogether…or is it just going to happen if the hot water is not run daily. ??? 😉

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