Sulfur in your Water (Rotten Egg Smell) – What You Can Do

The most common way to diagnose a contamination of sulfur or hydrogen sulfate in your Central Pennsylvania and Northern Maryland home is the smell. To that end, there are simple steps you can take to eliminate this from your faucets.

Determine the Source

Your first order of business is to find the source — in your drain, or in your water. Take a glass of water from your drain area the smell is originating from, and take a glass of water from another faucet in your home. If both glasses of water contain a rotten egg smell, the problem is your water, which could come from a number of other issues – water heater, well or municipal. If only one glass has the unpleasant odor, it is most likely that specific drain.

If the Source is Your Drain

Find the specific drain and pour ½ cup of bleach down the drain to disinfect it. If you are weary of pouring bleach into your drain system, or do not have bleach on hand, dump ½ cup of baking soda and 1 cup of vinegar in your drain. This should be sufficient to disinfect that specific drain pipe.

Hot Water Heater Troubleshooting

If the issue is from hot water only, the likely culprit is the anode rod in your electric water heater chemically reacting with the natural sulfate ions. This rod is typically made of magnesium. Replace this with an aluminum rod.

You can operate your water heater without the rod, though you risk corrosion of your steel water tank after you remove one. Culligan can add FDA-approved corrosion inhibitors to help correct this potential problem, and can also remove the sulfate by using a dealkalizer.

Sulfur-reducing bacteria could be lurking in your water tank without the rod. One way to test for this is to set your water temperature over 140° Fahrenheit for 48 hours to kill the bacteria. If the odor goes away, this was likely the problem. If it does not, it is likely a rod issue.

If the Source is Your Well or Municipal Water

If the contamination is located at the actual source of your drinking water, get a free water test from Culligan Mid-Atlantic. This test should include a pH analysis, iron, manganese, hardness and TDS (Total Dissolved Solids). A Culligan water softener, Sulfur-Cleer Plus, or Iron-Cleer filter, chlorine or hydrogen oxide chemical feed and carbon filtration are all options depending on the results of testing.

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