Why Does My Water Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

Determining the cause is the first step in eliminating a foul odor coming from a home water supply. This is a guide about why water smells like rotten eggs.
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September 23, 2006 Flag
1 found this helpful

Every time I turn on my bathroom sink, it stinks like rotten eggs! (strong sewer smell). This does not happen anywhere else in the house. The kitchen sink, tub/shower, and washing machine do not stink at all, but the bathroom sink is just horrible when you turn on the water. Does anyone have any ideas why this would be and what to do about it? Thanks!

Robin from Washington, IA

September 24, 20060 found this helpful
Best Answer

First I'd check the drain trap... the 'J' shaped curve in the drain pipe under the sink. Make sure it isn't leaking. Then sniff around to be sure the odor is coming from the sink itself and not perhaps from the bathtub drain, behind a wall, etc. If it is certain that it's coming from the sink itself you could have something unpleasant growing in the overflow drain in the sink. If that seems likely I would try the following, but only if I was certain no ammonia could be lurking in there: I'd pour some clorine bleach through the overflow system from the highest point accessable. For instance my sink has an indentation to hold a bar of soap and there is a small drain hole there. If you can get the bleach to it this should kill anything that might be making a home in there.

Be sure there is no ammonia present though, before you add bleach. If the two are mixed together the fumes are highly toxic. Good luck!

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May 3, 20070 found this helpful
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All the above answers could be correct.

If it is a build up of gunk in the trap ("S" bend) then there is a products in Australia that I have used and found very useful (but you must follow the directions very carefully). The product I have used is called "Draino" which is very strongly alkaline. It should kill any germs as well as clearing and obstruction.

Another possible consideration is if the plumbing has been modified or not installed correctly, you may not have a trap ( S Bend), if this is the case the smells from the main sewer pipes will be coming directly up into your sink. This is unlikely but I have seen this in a Do It Yourself (DIY) installation once. If you are not sure if you have the correct trap get some one in to check; no drain should be connected with straight pipe directly to the sewer pipes there must be a loop of pipe which holds some water to prevent the smells from passing up the pipe.

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July 7, 20080 found this helpful
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Check the vent pipes coming out of your roof. I started getting this very unpleasant smell in my back bathroom and could not get rid of it, same odor, smelled like rotten eggs. I took barbed wire and twisted it at the end to form a small 'ball' and went on the roof and worked it down the vent pipe. I thought maybe something, a small bird or small squirrel might have gotten down that pipe somehow. I know, this was a long shot, I really couldn't see how anything could have fell in and gotten stuck, but I tried this anyway. I just kept working the wire down the vent. At one point, it balked, like it was blocked.

So, I had to just make jabbing motions with it and all of a sudden, it started going again. When I felt that I had used enough wire to remove any object that might be blocking the vent I stopped, climbed back off the roof and went inside to check the bathroom. The odor was gone! I was one happy camper! I then went back on the roof and pulled the wire out. I was going to get some fine mesh wire and make 'covers' for all my vents, but never got around to it. I haven't had this problem since however. I'm sure there are better objects to use instead of barbed wire. I would have used a snake (plumber's snake) if I had had one, but I didn't, so I used what I had at hand. I still don't know what was blocking that vent, but it got it pushed on down to where it went out into the septic tank and I was rid of the odor and very happy about it.

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June 10, 20090 found this helpful
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Thanks to this site i fixed the problem myself.

Here were my symptoms:

1. Newer house

2. Smell of sulphur was in 1 room (bathroom)

3. Isolated the smell to the bathroom sink

4. Toilet / shower were fine

Removed trap under the sink (no tools required because of the PVC) and got rid of all the build up (mostly my wife's hair). Smell has dissappeared.

Thanks.

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October 15, 20090 found this helpful

So after having the same problem, I googled it. After a little bit of personal filtering I came to two possible problems.

1) Could be the inline water filter

or

2) Anode to the water heater could be going bad. Check both, in my case it was the anode (turned on the hot water to test, and was confirmed that way).

Hope this helps

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August 1, 20100 found this helpful

One other thing to check also is the overflow drain we have the same smells in our bathroom sinks and found that there was a build up growing in the overflow drains. We have rinsed it out with hot water and bleach but it keeps coming back i think its just that they are cheap sinks and need to be replaced.

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October 31, 20120 found this helpful

Hello. I have the same problem in one of my bathroom sinks; no other sinks, not the dishwasher, not the shower, and not the toilets. It's definitely either the sink or faucet. The reason I know this is because we recently remodeled the bathroom and replaced both the sink and faucet - and then the problem started. If I leave the water "dripping" it won't smell - hence, it's not the drain/trap. I haven't figured out how to fix the problem - but I just wanted to share that it's most likely either the sink or faucet.

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June 2, 20150 found this helpful

This may not be the answer to the initial question but since people are talking about bad smells coming from their sink, I would like to add that your garbage disposal needs to be scrubbed once in a while. Get a baby bottle brush from the dollar store and sprinkle comet with bleach on it generously and scrub inside your disposal and underneath the rubber flange. Bring up the brush and rinse off all the black mold and scum stuck in there. Then go again until you see no more residue. It is gross, I know,but it needs to be done to keep your sink sweet smelling. They have tablets and granules you can buy that are supposed to do the job but I cannot guarantee their effectiveness. After u use your dollar brush, then toss it or resterilize it for further use.

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Anonymous Flag
January 28, 20160 found this helpful

I would say there is slufur dioxide and I have the same problem in my sink

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Anonymous Flag
April 5, 20160 found this helpful

If you have a septic system have it pumped out or your leach field drain could be cloged

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July 8, 20160 found this helpful

October 2, 2008 Flag
0 found this helpful

We just moved into a new house our problem is the smell of our water and drains. It smells like rotten eggs. The washer is gross too, every time I wash clothes they either smell like rotten eggs while washing or the machine does. It is very gross. Taking a shower is also smelly. We don't have hard water and tried that with dish soap and water. Please help.

Jillann from Belleville, IL

October 2, 20080 found this helpful
Best Answer

Congratulations, you have sulphur in your water. I know this becasue I've had to deal with it in a house we purchased some years back. You have to aerate the water to remove the smell. We did this by going to the pump house and installing an aerator. We got this from a water testing company. Call or go by a place like that and ask. They'll tell you.

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October 3, 20080 found this helpful
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Sounds like well water to me. Our water smelled horrible when we moved in less than a month ago. Once you get the water cycling through the house (I think it took my husband and my use for about a week). It will clear up to almost nothing. Hot water is the worst. We ran the tub and the sink for a couple hours the first couple of days. Now, we also have our well chlorinated once a week. Good luck!

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October 3, 20080 found this helpful

You do have sulfur in your water. I had to drink sulfur water when I had a severe Urinary Tract Infection. It was the only thing that would help. The only way I could drink it was ICE cold. I got my water form a spring at a local park. Many people got this water. It's suppose to be very healthy.

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

The other day while inspecting the house I want with my realtor the water smelled pretty bad (and it is well water) and we ran every faucet, the showers and tubs in the house the whole time we were there and flushed toilets. She said it was because the water in the tank had sit for quite some time while the house was vacant and to get rid of the smelly water she said that's what she does. It tasted really good when I tried it though!

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

Yes, I agree well water. I had a well in Florida. Sometimes it would smell bad, but mostly it was ok.

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October 4, 20080 found this helpful

The smell comes from sulphur in your water. There is no complete remedy that I know of, but a water-softner that uses salt helps a lot. As for the stains, you can clean them with bleach or CLR, but it will permanantly discolor clothing. My friends who have sulphur water in their well have no option for city treated water, so they just have to throw away towels and clothes once or twice a year. However, they do drink the water, it's not harmful and keeping it cold in the frig helps it taste better than straight from the tap. Once you're used to it, they swear, you don't notice the smell or the taste. In fact, they complain about the "clorine" smell in our city water.

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October 7, 20080 found this helpful

Lots of things can make water smell bad. But if it smells like rotten eggs it's got to be sulphur. You might try a water conditioner.

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October 23, 20080 found this helpful

We had the same problem in our last house. Sulfur. We got a treatment system that used 'pool shock'. It would mix water with the pool shock (concentrated bleach) and then go through a carbon filter. The only maintenance was to add a gallon of shock about once a month.

Go to www.diamondh20.com. That is the system we had but I'm sure there are others out there. It was expensive ($1500 in 2000) but worth every penny. After having the stinky water for a few weeks it really was like diamonds coming out of the faucet. Good luck

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November 9, 20080 found this helpful

If you have Well water you may have bacteria in your system. Mix a gallon of bleach with water. 5 to 1 and pour it down your well casing. turn on all of your faucets until you smell the bleach. This will disinfect your system

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December 31, 20080 found this helpful

Hey I live in Belleville as well and when we moved into our house it had been empty for about 5-6 mos. We had to empty the hot water heater. Turn on ALL hot water faucets. No cold until the water runs ice cold. This cured our "rotten egg" smell and only cost about 10 bucks on our next water bill. Try this before the treatment stuff.

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Anonymous Flag
April 11, 20160 found this helpful

April 29, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

I purchased a house back in April 2013 and at the time I purchased a new filter and softener system for the house as the water had a strong rotten egg smell. A year later I had the issue with the hot water (rotten smell in hot water), and I resolved it by changing the anode rod every 6 months. Now two weeks ago I started getting the rotten egg smell in cold water only. I called the company that installed the systems and they did all the chemical tests in water and everything resulted in normal readings. So they recommended line chlorination because they said there might be bacteria growing in plumbing and it might be producing that rotten egg smell. Therefore, we agreed to try; but unfortunately 3 days after the chlorination the smell came back, but it came back even stronger. and again only the cold water. Then the next two days the water was fine without any smell and then it started all of a sudden. (Basically the smell comes and goes.) The strange thing is that I always go check outside to see if the water right after filter also stinks like rotten eggs, but it doesn't. The smell is only inside the house, on showers and sinks.

Thank you very much in advance.

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Anonymous Flag
May 1, 20160 found this helpful
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Rotten egg smell is usually the presence of sulfur in the water.

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April 29, 2005 Flag
0 found this helpful

We recently had a new well driven and the water smells like eggs. Does anyone know what is causing this and if it's OK to drink?

Pam

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April 29, 20050 found this helpful
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Here's some information I found on an extension site...

Why Well Water Smells Bad

If you have a private well and the water smells musty or like "rotten eggs," you may have a bacteria problem. Bacteria that cause this smell live in the soil or aquifer. They are not a health risk. However, once introduced to a well, they may multiply rapidly and cause odor problems.

Sometimes odor-producing bacteria indicate that disease-causing bacteria are also present. This is especially true if there has been a sudden change in water quality. Have your well water tested through a certified lab to make sure there is not a health problem. Tests usually identify potential health problems but may not detect odor-causing bacteria. The lab lets you know if water is safe to drink. If it is safe but smells bad, you can reduce or eliminate the odor.

Odor-producing bacteria are often referred to as "iron" or "sulfur-reducing" bacteria. They use iron or sulfur in their life cycle and give off hydrogen sulfide gas. That's the rotten egg odor. The bacteria may form slimy colonies in pipes or toilet tanks and can stain laundry. However, the odor is usually the most objectionable problem.

Iron bacteria can get into wells when maintenance is done on piping, well casing, or pumps. Bacteria can get in when work is done on indoor plumbing, or when a hot water heater is installed. Finally, they may get into water supplies through a direct connection to surface water or shallow groundwater seepage.

Once established in your well or water supply, bacteria can be very hard to eliminate. After work is done on your well or plumbing, thoroughly disinfect the system. This kills bacteria that enter the water before they get a foothold. If there is a connection to surface water or bacteria are strongly established, repeated disinfection may be necessary. Disinfection eliminates or reduces bacteria to tolerable levels.

Shock chlorination is the most common way to disinfect a well. You need to calculate carefully how much chlorine is appropriate for your well size and depth. Make sure the entire system gets disinfected and that chlorine remains in the system 6 to 8 hours.

Sometimes rotten egg odor comes from rock the well is drilled into. In these cases, the smell is generally present when the well is first used. The smell may decrease over time. Odor that appears later is from bacterial growth and may appear suddenly. The odor may begin after the well has been unused for an extended period of time, following floods or drought, or after maintenance. Again, a sudden change in water quality may signal potential health risks. Test the water to make sure it's safe to drink. To get a water test kit, contact your county health department.

Source: University of Minnesota

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