Why Your Hot Water Smells Like Rotten Eggs (And What to Do About It!)

Water isn’t supposed to smell at all, and it certainly shouldn’t make your home smell bad! One surprisingly common issue homeowners experience is a strong scent of rotten eggs, or sulfur, whenever they use hot water. The odor can also be faint in cold water, but when you’re looking for a steamy shower, the smell can be strong or even overwhelming!

Find out what causes the unpleasant stench, and reach out to us at One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning for a quick and effective fix.

Why Does My Hot Water Smell Bad?

If you’ve noticed a nauseating sulfur or “rotten egg” smell, the problem is hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a dangerous gas that not only smells gross but can also cause discoloration of your kitchen and bathroom fixtures. In high amounts, it can alter the taste of your food.

Even treated water contains many ions, including sulfate. In its normal trace amounts, sulfate has no associated health risks. However, if your water has a high level of sulfur-reducing bacteria (SRB), the bacteria consume sulfate and convert it into hydrogen sulfide. Water treatment plants kill most SRB in our water, but water from wells can have higher levels.

Is It Really Your Water Heater That Smells Like Sulphur?

Another explanation for your funky-smelling water may be aging water heater components. The anode rod that draws minerals to it inside the tank eventually corrodes, which, heroically, is its sole purpose. It deteriorates so your tank’s inner lining doesn’t. When the anode rod finally corrodes, the chemical reactions can increase the amount of SRB, which means you’ll need to replace your water heater to stop the stink.

How to Fix Sulfur Smell in Hot Water

If your home has treated water from a municipal line, you’ll need to drain your hot water heater. This will remove the bacteria that has built up in the tank. You might also consider replacing your anode rod with a zinc or aluminum zine alloy rod. Zinc doesn’t have the same chemical reaction to sulfur-reducing bacteria, which should reduce your chances of having water odor issues in the future. Both draining your water heater tank and replacing your anode rod are excellent reasons to call One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning or sister brand Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for professional assistance.

If your home is on a well, you’ll likely need to attempt both the fixes mentioned above. If those don’t solve the problem, you may attempt a shock chlorination treatment. Adding chlorine to the water will kill the bacteria and greatly reduce the rotten egg smell.

More Smells: Hot Water Smells like Chlorine

This problem is a bit more straightforward. If your water smells like chlorine, you may simply be experiencing higher-than-normal levels of chlorine in your water. Most municipal water treatment facilities include low amounts of this chemical to kill bacteria. It has a long and proven track record of keeping our water safe with no health risks, according to the CDC, but the smell and taste of chlorine may be unpleasant.

If the smell persists over a long period, consider investing in an in-home water filter that reduces chlorine in your water supply. It may also be worth testing your water to ensure the chlorine levels are below the recommended limit of 4 parts per million (ppm). If the test reads higher than 4 ppm, report the problem to your local water treatment facility immediately.

Water Heater Repair Service Doesn’t Have to Stink

For help with fixing water that smells like rotten eggs or if your hot water smells, the first step is contacting One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning. Our friendly, knowledgeable technicians will handle all your water heater issues and HVAC maintenance throughout your home. We provide hot water heater installation if it's time for a new system. Get in touch with us at (800) 893-3523 or request your appointment today!