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How Can Water Develop a Rotten Egg Smell?

small_4786092103 (1)One of the most common complaints we hear from people who get their water from private wells is that their tap water smells like rotten eggs. This problem, which occurs much more often in well water than in city water, can make it hard to drink a glass of water and causes some homeowners to worry about the health of their water at home. Today we’re going to help explain this common phenomenon and ease some concerns that you might have by talking about where the rotten egg smell in well water comes from, whether or not it has any health effects and how you can get rid of it!

Where does the rotten egg smell in water come from?

The contaminant that’s most often responsible for the rotten egg smell in water is hydrogen sulfide, commonly referred to as sulfur. Hydrogen sulfide is the gas that is produced when organic matter decays. It can also show up naturally in underground water supplies.
When it comes to well water in New Hampshire, sulfur most often shows up when iron or manganese bacteria are present in the pipes that deliver water from a well to a home’s taps. These bacteria can show up in the pipes at the bottom of a well itself or in the pipes that carry water throughout the home. In either case, the bacteria will decay and give off hydrogen sulfide as a byproduct, which produces the rotten egg smell in water.

Are there any health effects created by the rotten egg smell in water?

Fortunately, there are no known health effects of consuming water that contains hydrogen sulfide, at least not at the levels that it typically shows up in well water. In fact, hydrogen sulfide is not even a contaminant that is monitored or regulated by the EPA in city water. So from a health point-of-view, you don’t have to worry about the rotten egg smell in water.

Are there any non-health-related effects caused by the rotten egg smell in water?

Although hydrogen sulfide in water does not cause any health problems, it can have a number of non-health-related effects. For one, it can be very difficult to drink a glass of water that smells like rotten eggs. The smell can be overpowering, which makes drinking water very unpleasant for you, your family and your guests. The rotten egg smell will also be present in the shower and will linger in the bathroom air for some time after you finish bathing.
Hydrogen sulfide is also known to stain clothes that are washed in water that contains the gas.

How can you remove the rotten egg smell from your water?

The best way to remove the rotten egg smell from your water is to install a residential water treatment system in your home. McBride’s offers a few different types of treatment systems, including carbon media and oxidizing filters, which will remove the offensive smell and make it much easier to drink and bathe in your home’s tap water.
If you have any questions about a rotten egg smell in water, or if you’d like a water system serviced or installed in your home, contact McBride’s Water Advantage, your water softener and water filtration system dealer in Epsom, NH. We provide service all over New Hampshire, including towns like Hooksett, Barrington and Dover, NH.
photo credit: _dessey via photopin cc