Fix that Rotten Egg Smell (Hydrogen Sulfide) Your Water in 3 steps

Water quality has a tremendous effect on your families quality of life. The rotten egg smell and taste in your home water supply is caused by the presence of hydrogen sulfide. (H2S) It is not harmful to your health but it can make your water corrosive, meaning it will damage your home plumbing system and appliances and can cause lead contamination. It can tarnish silverware, copper and brass utensils, leave yellow or black stains on your kitchen and bathroom fixtures, and it’s generally unpleasant.


Skillings & Sons recommends testing for hydrogen sulfide. It’s not to identify the kind of contaminant in the water -- it doesn’t take much hydrogen sulfide in your water to cause an unpleasant odor or taste. Testing is needed to figure out how much. Because hydrogen sulfide is a gas released into the air once the water comes out of the faucet, testing can be tricky. Having a water systems professional conduct the test will ensure accurate results.


Is the smell coming out of both of the hot and cold water faucets, or just one? Is the smell coming only from the water treated by your water softener? Does the smell eventually go away as you continue to run the water, or is it constant? Answering these questions will help pinpoint where the hydrogen sulfide is coming from.


If you only smell the noxious odor when you are running the hot water, it is likely from the hot water heater. This can easily be fixed by replacing the magnesium corrosion protection rods. If you don’t have corrosive water, these rods can even be removed. The same solution works for your water softener, which can sometimes develop hydrogen sulfide in its cleaning resin.

If the source of the problem is from within a home well, flushing the casing with a strong chlorine solution can usually address the problem. If the problem is in the groundwater, though, flushing will only be a temporary fix. Replacing anti-corrosion rods in your water heater or water softener will not work in this case either.

An active carbon filter will remove hydrogen sulfide from groundwater if the levels are minimal. In this method, water passes through an activated carbon filter, which removes the harmful chemicals or other contaminants. Over time, the carbon absorbs all it can and the filter is no longer effective. If the filter continues to be used at this point, the chemicals may be released back into the filtered water. It’s also important to keep up on the maintenance schedule of these filters because disease-causing bacteria can build up in the carbon or charcoal.

This is often done at the point-of-use, or where water is drawn from the tap, usually for drinking and cooking. Whole house systems are an option, as well.

If there is a moderate amount, an oxidizing filter will convert the hydrogen sulfide into sulfur, which can easily be filtered out. For high levels of hydrogen sulfide, an oxidation-filtration system is your best option.

Another option is aeration. By vigorously mixing air and water together, aeration is an effective way to filter some contaminants from water, including iron, manganese and organic compounds. When air and water come into contact in this way, these contaminants are stripped from the water. This is often the first step in more complex filtration systems.

Skillings & Sons can help you identify and fix the problem from testing to installation. Contact us with your questions or for a consultation at 1-800-441-6281.