Sulfur tends to have a rotten egg odor to it. If you notice this smell in your water, then there is a high probability that it contains hydrogen sulfide gas. Water contaminated with hydrogen sulfide gas is not typically life threatening, but it can be a big inconvenience to the homeowner. The odor alone can make your home unpleasant and the hydrogen sulfide gas causes black stains on silverware and can corrode pipes over time. Before dealing with the problem you must determine where the source of the hydrogen sulfide lays.
If you notice the rotten egg smell is only coming from your hot water faucet than the problem is in your water heater. If the odor is being produced from both hot and cold water faucets and the odor continues while the water is running, then the source is your groundwater. If when you turn on both faucets and only the water that has been treated with a water softener is causing the odor, then the problem is caused by sulfur bacteria in the water softener. However, if the smell is strong when you first turn on the water, but it diminishes after you have let the water run awhile then the problem is sulfur bacteria in your well water.
Removing Odors from a Hot Water Heater
Replace the magnesium anode. The magnesium anode is connected to a plug that is located on top of the water heater. Consult a water heater dealer about a replacement anode for your make and model of hot water heater.
Disinfect the water heater:
- Turn off your water heater and close the cold water inlet valve.
- Turn on a hot water faucet and the temperature and pressure valve. Allow 1 gallon for each 30 gallons of water heater capacity to drain out.
- Add 1 gallon of household bleach per each 30 gallons of your tank’s capacity. Fill the tank will water by opening the cold water inlet.
- Allow the bleach to sit in the water heater for 1 hour. After the allotted time, open the cold water valve and all the hot water faucets to allow the bleach-water mixture to clean the pipes.
- Drain the remaining contents of the water heater through its drain valve.
- Close the drain valve and fill the tank with water. Allow the water to sit for 15 minutes and then purge the hot water supply lines and drain the tank. Be sure to purge all the air from the lines.
- After the system has been cleaned and purged, turn on the water heater.
Increase the temperature on your water heater to 160 degrees. Allow the heater to stay at the increase temperature for a few hours to kill the sulfur bacteria. After a few hours have passed, flush the system to remove the dead bacteria.