Smelly water is never a good sign, especially when it’s coming from your faucet and entering your home. While there are several reasons for water odor, the most common is iron bacteria. This bacterium may also cause an accompanying undesirable flavor to the water.
At Blue Heron, we specialize in helping families across with issues like these. The good news is bad smelling water is fixable. The bad news is there could be more than a smell in your water. There could be a secondary symptom of slimy residue that blocks pipes.
Here are a few ways to diagnose and treat bad-smelling water.
How to Know if You’ve got Hydrogen Sulfide Issues
Along with the odor in your water, you may notice a strange oily film in the water. Other symptoms of water bacteria include a slime-like substance in the water. It might be reddish in color if the slime stems from an iron bacterium. It could also appear white or black.
This discoloration in your water may leave stains on plumbing or metal dishes. Mixing bowls and silverware are usually the first indicators. This is because of the association with iron.
The slimy film in the water is especially noticeable when bathing. A film residue might stay on your skin and in your hair. While it won’t harm you in small quantities, it’s not healthy to continue bathing in and drinking bacteria-contaminated water.
Water pipes in your home may begin to deteriorate because of the underlying chemical reactions in the water. This isn’t easy to spot from inside the home. If you notice any leaks or changes in water pressure, it could be due to corrosion. Contact someone immediately, or it could lead to major damage.
What Causes the Bad Smell?
The rotten egg smell is caused by hydrogen sulfide gas in your water system. This occurs due to chemical reactions in natural debris inside your water. Namely, soil and minerals, including iron.
It could also be caused by sulfur bacteria leaking into well water or caused by a reaction in your water heater. In rare cases, the smell could relate to contamination caused by pollution. If there’s a crack in a pipe somewhere, especially underground, bacteria can seep in through the soil around it.
The bacteria from the sulfide gas create a slimy, oily substance in the water. This helps more bacteria grow, which leads to contaminated water and pipe drainage issues. It’s also what creates the strange smell and taste of your tap water.
How to Solve the Problem
Diagnosing the rotten egg smell is only step one in the rotten egg smell removal process. Now you’ve got to determine where the issue stems from to eliminate it.
1. Turn on only hot water and see if the scent is present. Now, try only cold water. If the smell goes away when only cold water is present, it’s likely a water heater issue. If it continues in the cold water, more tests are needed.
2. If you have water softener connected to certain faucets in your home, try turning on one with and one without softener. If the smell is only present in the faucet with softener, it’s probably contaminated softener causing the issue. If it’s only present in the faucet without softener, it’s coming from a well or deeper plumbing issue.
Both outcomes require a professional to fully diagnose and eradicate the bacteria. Attempting to fix these problems on your own could lead to trouble down the road, especially where your water heater is considered.
Water Heater Issues
If the trouble is in your water heater, there is a way to replace the magnesium anode, which is the most likely culprit. However, this isn’t a job for a general DIYer. To replace the anode, the water pressure needs to be released, and the plug unscrewed.
If it’s not the anode alone, the system may need to be flushed with a chlorine solution and heat. This is where things get tricky and are best left to the experts. If you release the pressure seal on your hot water tank or damage occurs during cleaning, you void your warranty.
If you suspect sulfur bacteria in your water system, reach out to us at Blue Heron for water testing. We understand the intricate workings of well and water systems, and our comprehensive testing methods will help ensure your water is as clean as it needs to be. Call today to learn more.