Skip to main content

Where Smelly Water in Your Plumbing Comes From

One of the most important health tips you will ever receive is to stay hydrated by drinking lots of water throughout the day. Not only does a hydrated body operate healthier, but choosing to drink water instead of sugary drinks means fewer calories, less weight gain, and a smaller chance of diabetes or heart disease. Drinking enough water can be a challenge, though, if the water coming from your kitchen tap smells terrible!

There are several ways to improve the quality of your tap water. The key is to identify the source of unpleasant odors. One common source of bad tasting or smelling tap water is hydrogen sulfide gas, which makes the water smell like rotten eggs. The good news is, you can remove it!


Hydrogen sulfide gas occurs when sulfate, or sulfur bacteria, are present in your water. If you have ever lived in a home with well water, you are probably very familiar with this smell. Consuming this water won’t usually harm you, but it can have adverse effects on your plumbing and fixtures over time. It can hurt your plumbing by producing slime and other bacteria that can create clogs. Hydrogen sulfide gas in your water can also be an indicator that your water line has been contaminated by sewage. There are plenty of reasons to take care of smelly water, and there are ways of finding out where it’s coming from.


One common breeding ground for sulfur bacteria is the water heater. The warm environment inside of a water heater is perfect for growing bacteria, and in many water heaters a magnesium anode is present which can aid in chemical reactions. To determine if your smelly water is coming from your water heater, check your hot water and cold water for smells separately. If the smell is present when running hot water but absent with the cold water, your water heater is the source. You can address the problem by removing the magnesium anode, disinfecting and flushing the water heater, or temporarily turning the water heater up to 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill all bacteria.


Another possible source of hydrogen sulfide gas is a water softener. Only certain fixtures in your home use softened water, so compare the water coming from fixtures with softened water to those without. If the odor is only present in the fixtures using soft water, then you likely have a bacteria problem in your water softener. Clean, sanitize, and flush your water softener to remove any bacteria that might be present.


If the odor comes from all of your fixtures with hot or cold water, the problem is probably with the source of water. In this case, it is usually best to call for professional help. Have your water tested by a local environmental agency and give the plumbing experts at Roto-Rooter a call to check out your well, septic system, and other plumbing for problems.



Related Articles