The smell of sulfur is an unpleasant experience for anyone, but if you find it is prominent in your water supply, it will need to be corrected sooner rather than later.
But what exactly causes a sulfur-like smell in the water in your home? How do you get rid of it? In this article, we answer these questions so that you can eliminate the odor – and the source – from your water supply.
What Causes A Sulfur Like Odor In Water?
The rotten egg-like smell of sulfur can become present in your water supply and your household plumbing due to high levels of bacteria or a gas called hydrogen sulfide.
Hydrogen sulfide can be either naturally or inorganically. Naturally, it can be in petroleum, hot springs, and natural gas.
It is also a byproduct of organic materials and both animal and human waste. Also, hydrogen sulfide can be produced by certain industrial activities, including natural gas and petroleum drilling and wastewater treatment.
Water that becomes contaminated with hydrogen sulfide is referred to as sulfur water for obvious reasons!
Is Sulfur Water Dangerous?
Hydrogen sulfide in water isn’t highly dangerous to humans in small concentrations, though it can be harmful in large amounts. However, it is rare for sulfur concentrations to become that high in a water supply.
Some issues that can arise from high concentrations of sulfur water include the following:
- Stomach Pains
- Unpleasant Smell
- Bitter Taste
- Respiratory Problems
- Skin Issues
- Irritated Eyes
How To Remove The Sulfur Smell From Your Water
Now that we know what causes this sulfur-like smell and what kind of issues it can cause, let’s look at what you can do to prevent it in your home.
First, find the source of the problem. Check to see if the hot and the cold water have that telling rotten egg smell. If yes, you probably have a problem with your water source directly. If it is only the hot water, it could be the anode rod in your water heater.
If The Water Heater Is The Problem
If you find the problem is coming from the water heater, sanitize the tank as sulfur-consuming bacteria easily thrive in environments with hot water, producing high levels of hydrogen sulfide. To sanitize your hot water tank:
- Disinfect the tank with four cups of hydrogen peroxide and forty gallons of water.
- Let some of this solution run through the lines, but keep most of it within the heater.
- Allow the mixture to sit for around two hours before turning the hot water back on and refilling the tank.
If this does not work, see if the anode rod has corroded. Here is how to do this:
- Turn off the power and water supplies to the heater.
- Open the hot water faucet of your tank and partially drain it.
- You should be able to pull up the anode rod once you have turned the hex head with a socket wrench. If the rod is thin, it is corroded and needs replacing.
- If unsure, speak to a professional so you don’t accidentally hurt yourself!
If The Water Source Is The Problem
There are various ways to treat the water source if you find that this is where the sulfur smell is coming from. Here are a few suggestions:
Oxidizing Filtration Systems
Oxidizing filters are beneficial as the reaction caused by the oxidation within the filter will create sulfur particles that are rendered inert. These particles can then be easily removed from the water by a filter made from carbon.
However, oxidizing filtration systems require a fair amount of maintenance, as the oxidizing chemicals used within will need to replenish.
You’ll also need to make sure that you check the filter for clogs, as the buildup of contaminants can lead to blockages.
Chlorination is also an effective way of disinfecting water and treating problems such as sulfur water.
Aeration is another method that is viable to use with sulfur water. It is the process of adding air to water. An aeration filter for a home system uses an air charger carbon filter and a closed tube that features a compressed air pocket.
The contaminated water will enter the closed tube and is aerated thanks to the oxygen-rich water within it. These systems will also feature a vent used for three tasks: air compression, air changeover, and discharging hydrogen sulfide.
This process is used in water softeners to remove minerals that cause water hardness. This method can also work regarding hydrogen sulfide, as it exists in ion form within the water. A technological process used for this is packed-bed anion exchange.
These beds are full of specialized resin beads that have a strong ionic charge, much like those used in water softeners. When utilized appropriately, these beads will replace the sulfate ions with softer (and odorless!) ions.
Hopefully, we have given you plenty of valuable suggestions on how to get rid of the sulfur smell within your water supply. If you are still unsure, contact a professional to guide you through the process of eliminating the odor for good.