What's Causing Your Water Supply To Smell Like Rotten Eggs

24 February 2022
 Categories: , Blog


An odor of rotten eggs coming from your water can be caused by several different things from failing water heater components to water softening systems. These issues are rarely serious, and with the help of a plumber, you can quickly get rid of this odor no matter where it's coming from.

Tank Water Heater Issues

If you have a tank water heater, there are a few different ways this could be causing the rotten egg smell. The first is stagnant water; if you've been on vacation or haven't used hot water for a few days, bacteria can more easily build up in the water. If you only notice the smell when you use hot water, and if it goes away as you keep using it, this could likely be the case.

Another possibility is the corrosion of the tank's anode rod. Each tank has a metal rod inside it designed to corrode so that the metal tank itself will not. Once this rod corrodes enough, it can emit a foul smell caused by hydrogen sulfide gas.

In the first case, running hot water more regularly to keep tank water moving or having your tank flushed can usually fix the problem. In the second case, the anode rod will need to be replaced before your tank itself starts to corrode. If running hot water does not solve the problem, contact a plumber to inspect it for you.

Water Softener Issues

The same problem can occur in water softening systems if you have one installed in your home. Typically, the process used to "soften" your water doesn't result in any byproducts that would cause this odor, but like with water heaters, the smell can start to come from your water if bacteria builds up in the water softener itself. Cleaning your water softener can often fix this problem, but if it doesn't go away after cleaning — or if it cannot easily be cleaned — contact a plumber to check on your softening system and make any necessary repairs.

Gunk Buildup in Drains

Plenty of gunk can build up in your drains over time, especially bathroom sinks, bathtubs, and showers. Hair, hygiene products, and mineral buildup can cause clumps of gunk to build up on the inside of your pipes, and bacteria that emit hydrogen sulfide gasses clump up right along with it. This can happen even if you use the drain regularly, as this gunk often requires a chemical cleaner or physical cleaning to remove. If you tend to notice the smell when water is running, but the smell only seems to be coming from one or two drains, this is likely the issue. Since drain cleaning can sometimes be damaging, especially if you are on a septic system or have old pipes, it's a good idea to ask a plumber for help.

Stagnant Water

Like stagnant water in water heaters, the same problem can arise from stagnant water anywhere else in your home, such as P-traps. Here, water is designed to collect here to prevent sewer gasses from coming back up the pipes into your home. If it's left sitting too long, however, such as if a sink isn't used very regularly, it can start to smell. This can usually be fixed by running water down your sinks more consistently, but if this doesn't help, a plumber should inspect your pipes to make sure they're in good shape.

For more information, contact a plumber near you.