Rotten Egg Smell In Water

 
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Old 11-13-2008, 04:55 PM   #1
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Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Was going to help a friend out with her stinky water problem but hit a wall. I initially thought she had a hot water tank heater, so figured I would change the anode out. Turns out she has an electric on-demand unit for the whole house, which is plumbed with pvc.
In doing some research, I've found the well may be causing this. I came across one site that offers a downloadable brochure ($3.00) and guarantees a quick, inexpensive fix.
Anyone had any experience with stinky well water and is there any such beast as a quick and inexpensive fix?
I'll spring for the $3 but wanted to check here first.
Thanks...
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:28 PM   #2
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robie View Post
Was going to help a friend out with her stinky water problem but hit a wall. I initially thought she had a hot water tank heater, so figured I would change the anode out. Turns out she has an electric on-demand unit for the whole house, which is plumbed with pvc.
In doing some research, I've found the well may be causing this. I came across one site that offers a downloadable brochure ($3.00) and guarantees a quick, inexpensive fix.
Anyone had any experience with stinky well water and is there any such beast as a quick and inexpensive fix?
I'll spring for the $3 but wanted to check here first.
Thanks...
Save the $3, likely gonna tell you
how to pour bleach in the system
or something like.
Plumbers in the area should be
familiar with the problem.
Not likely that it is just her well.
Around here a permanganate filter
is the common solution, but
there is always someone who will
sell you a softener and some snake oil.

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Old 11-13-2008, 05:49 PM   #3
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Prolly the pvc pipe.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:53 PM   #4
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Pretty common in my area. High sulfur in the water causes the rotten egg smell. The cure is normally an ion exchange system, which looks a heck of a lot like an ordinary water softener.
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Old 11-13-2008, 05:57 PM   #5
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


You would not be doing wrong to have a company like Culligan test the water to find out the concentration of sulphur in the water, and then base the cost of removal by them as opposed to what buying the equipment and installation would be to do it yourself.
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Old 11-13-2008, 08:05 PM   #6
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Have them talk to one of the local well drilling companies, and see if they do this kind of work or can recommend someone.

And as said above get a test of the water, and not someone that is going to put some water in a tube and drop in some chemicals or dunk some paper in it. You need a real lab test.

Things they probably have in the water are iron, manganese, maybe sulpher, and more likely hydrogen sulfide.

Now the only thing a water softener will help a little with is iron and manganese, but there are better ways to deal with it unless the water is still hard after another treatment. And the ppm of the hydrogen sulfide will determine what is needed for that. A potassium permanganate filter will help with iron, maganese, and hydrogen sulfide to a point. If the ppm of the hydrogen sulfide is high then they will need to go to some type of chlorination treatment with holding tanks and oxidizing catalyst or permanganate filter after it. And if the iron, maganese, and hydrogen sulfide is really high then the best thing is aeration followed by filters.

This is why they need real lab tests and someone that really knows what they are doing. And I have found that Culligan doesn't really know what they are doing and they will do the best guess tests with the dropper and paper, and are more interested in selling you the service contract with the install.

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Old 11-13-2008, 09:27 PM   #7
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Around here if you gave those guys
rain water to test, they'd say you
needed a softener.
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Old 11-13-2008, 09:46 PM   #8
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Quote:
Originally Posted by neolitic View Post
Around here if you gave those guys
rain water to test, they'd say you
needed a softener.

Yup. Got burned by them several years ago (My wife made me do it )
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:57 AM   #9
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Thanks guys for the help. I'll print this out and put it in her hands. She originally wanted me to install 2 regular filters, in line with each other. I thought this was a good idea before I started doing some research. It doesn't sound as if the standard in-line filter with a good cartridge is going to help.
Thanks again.
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Old 11-14-2008, 07:59 AM   #10
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Quote:
Originally Posted by neolitic View Post
Around here if you gave those guys
rain water to test, they'd say you
needed a softener.
Amen, these guys put old school aluminum siding salesman to shame. Our local news did a story on the softener scams. They had a local water company test perfect water. The company came back and said hey needed all this specialized filtration equipment at a cost of 12,000. When confronted the guy pushed the camera. We have not heard from him in a while.
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Old 11-16-2008, 03:53 PM   #11
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


I am in the water treatment biz. I own a company thats been active since 1973. All of these posts are pretty acurrate. As far as installing a inline carbon cartridge filter you are probably wasting your time. Let me tell you why, yes the cartridge filter will dissolve your sulpher issue but you will be changing that filter quite frequetly, I dont care what anyone says those cartridge filters are crap! by changing it all the time you will most certainly create leaks. I have seen this way to much. What you are going to need to do is install a whole house carbon filter, most tanks are a size of 10in by 54in. The point im making here is you will have a filter 50 times the size which may need to be re-bedded every few years as opposed to every few weeks.
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:13 AM   #12
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robie View Post
Thanks guys for the help. I'll print this out and put it in her hands. She originally wanted me to install 2 regular filters, in line with each other. I thought this was a good idea before I started doing some research. It doesn't sound as if the standard in-line filter with a good cartridge is going to help.
Thanks again.
I had a similar problem and installation of an ordinary whole house particulate filter solved the problem as long as I change the filter every 4-6 weeks. These are the cheap $2 omni filters. For some reason my well pumps up fine black (manganese??) particulates and once these start to build up on the filter I will get the odor. My water softener does not seem to help.
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Old 11-17-2008, 11:49 AM   #13
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Quote:
Originally Posted by Robie View Post
Was going to help a friend out with her stinky water problem but hit a wall. I initially thought she had a hot water tank heater, so figured I would change the anode out. Turns out she has an electric on-demand unit for the whole house, which is plumbed with pvc.
In doing some research, I've found the well may be causing this. I came across one site that offers a downloadable brochure ($3.00) and guarantees a quick, inexpensive fix.
Anyone had any experience with stinky well water and is there any such beast as a quick and inexpensive fix?
I'll spring for the $3 but wanted to check here first.
Thanks...
We had a similar problem with are well, it was only a year or two old and we started getting a rotten egg smell. We called the well guy and he reccomended re-chlorinating the well.
It has been 3 or 4 years now with no smell
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Old 11-20-2008, 08:04 PM   #14
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Sulpher.
Install a charcoal filter.
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Old 11-20-2008, 08:23 PM   #15
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Here, we've got it all going on. Iron, Sulpher and salt.

Send a water sample to an independent lab, they'll also check for other contaminates (chemicals).

Many people here just run a 10 or 20 micron filter and a water softener with after filter and are happy with the setup.

I installed the prefilter, permanganate filter (AKA green sand) and softener + post filter. Once a mo. maint. takes about 1 1/2 hrs. but you can do other things while back-flushing and recharging. I wouldn't drink it but no smell and no yellow clothes.

You really need the pro water sample report to get you started.
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Old 11-25-2008, 02:29 PM   #16
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Two possible sources of rotten egg water coming from a private well supply.
1. Hydrogen sulfide gas
2. Bacterial iron

Solution for Hydrogen sulfide includes a filter that oxidizes the dissolved gas into a solid so it can be filtered out. That is the right way to do it. A simple carbon filter will not convert hydrogen sulfide into a solid. You need an oxidizer (bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or potasium permaganate)

Solution for iron bacteria is to shock the well and piping in the house then add a backwashing iron filter to eliminate the iron which is food for the bacteria that causes the smell. Or use an oxidizing filter same as above that kills the bacteria that you continuosly feed through a filter and backwashes regularly.

If you need more help contact me. We see this a lot in our area. I will not post who we use to supply us with our water treatment stuff but, you can contact me direct at. waterboy23@sbcglobal.net

Thanks, Jason
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:40 PM   #17
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Seems everyone has a different take on this stuff...

Iron and manganese bacteria are the two I've seen described in all these other posts. Hydrogen Sulfide gas (H2S) is a result of either or both bacteria, though manganese bacteria is the rarer of the two. In essence, H2S is bacteria farts - they eat the metal, release the H2S.

In some cases, chlorination and shock treatment can help, but this is only in cases where the bacteria was introduced into the system by the driller, pump installer, plumber, and/or HO. If the bacteria is native to the formation, or has gotten out of control since being introduced, the chances of it being removed entirely and forever with shock treatment are slim to none - it's sometimes a good temporary fix, though dumping chlorine into wells has its own set of associated problems.

H2S is actually a rather new problem as far as these things go - back when everyone used steel captive air tanks without bladders, the H2S tended to bleed into the air in the tank. Now, with the use of bladder tanks, the H2S doesn't bleed out until it comes out the taps. So, that leads to one pretty easy solution - installation of a holding tank and pressurization pump. This will allow the water to breath prior to entering the plumbing, and will often allow for better control of pressure and flow rates. There is one company I know of that sells manufactured tanks, so even electricians can manage the installation Also, you might want to restrict the flow on the well pump to keep some head pressure on it.

Air filter systems can handle iron and manganese, along with the H2S gas - though they don't do much for hard water. But, they're a nice compact solution, as opposed to large holding/storage systems.

A rule of thumb - hard deposits or solid stains in the system are a mineral problem, slimy deposits are bacteria.

If iron or manganese (the black specs/staining) is forming or gathering in the plumbing, you'll need to at least do some softening (ion exchange) prior to the water hitting the holding tank or air-filter system.

For significant problems, I'd suggest a company in the mid-west that specializes in really difficult water problems nationwide.

That's my two cents for an old conversation!

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Old 05-27-2009, 10:52 PM   #18
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Quote:
Originally Posted by piercekiltoff View Post
Seems everyone has a different take on this stuff...

Iron and manganese bacteria are the two I've seen described in all these other posts. Hydrogen Sulfide gas (H2S) is a result of either or both bacteria, though manganese bacteria is the rarer of the two. In essence, H2S is bacteria farts - they eat the metal, release the H2S.

In some cases, chlorination and shock treatment can help, but this is only in cases where the bacteria was introduced into the system by the driller, pump installer, plumber, and/or HO. If the bacteria is native to the formation, or has gotten out of control since being introduced, the chances of it being removed entirely and forever with shock treatment are slim to none - it's sometimes a good temporary fix, though dumping chlorine into wells has its own set of associated problems.

H2S is actually a rather new problem as far as these things go - back when everyone used steel captive air tanks without bladders, the H2S tended to bleed into the air in the tank. Now, with the use of bladder tanks, the H2S doesn't bleed out until it comes out the taps. So, that leads to one pretty easy solution - installation of a holding tank and pressurization pump. This will allow the water to breath prior to entering the plumbing, and will often allow for better control of pressure and flow rates. There is one company I know of that sells manufactured tanks, so even electricians can manage the installation Also, you might want to restrict the flow on the well pump to keep some head pressure on it.

Air filter systems can handle iron and manganese, along with the H2S gas - though they don't do much for hard water. But, they're a nice compact solution, as opposed to large holding/storage systems.

A rule of thumb - hard deposits or solid stains in the system are a mineral problem, slimy deposits are bacteria.

If iron or manganese (the black specs/staining) is forming or gathering in the plumbing, you'll need to at least do some softening (ion exchange) prior to the water hitting the holding tank or air-filter system.

For significant problems, I'd suggest a company in the mid-west that specializes in really difficult water problems nationwide.

That's my two cents for an old conversation!

Pierce K
JKA Well Drilling
First of all let me welcome yu to the site
Your take on the problem is exactly what I have learned in years of screwing with H2S. Another quick and cheap solution is dropping a tablet of slow dissolving pool chlorine down the well periodically The smallest pellets and slowest dissolving you can find. We have H2S caused by Iron in the water. I run several reverse osmosis filters to remove the nasties acid neutralizer and a softener from hell. Actually two softeners that run alternatly to provide clean water for the backwash. 100 pounds of salt a month, 12PPM Iron. Water in these parts is bad.
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Old 05-27-2009, 11:27 PM   #19
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


That'll work for a lot of wells, but if the pH is high enough and the total dissolved solids (TDS) is high enough, the calcium, or whatever they bind the chlorine with, won't dissolve and the well will end up with a bunch in the bottom over a long period of time. Sometimes it's not enough to cause a problem, but I've known other contractors who've had to deal with it - we have a large variety of different water problems here, not to mention the varied drilling conditions.

Interestingly enough, the right amount of chlorine in water at below 7 to 7.5 pH will result in a very good biocidal mixture, but in a water mixture where the water is alkaline, the chlorine turns oxidative and just corrodes everything. And the biocidal nature is inversly related to the oxidative nature. Also, chlorine tends to dramatically raise the pH in water as it is added, which results in the desired effects of the chlorine usually being nil.

The best bet - if you can smell the chlorine, it's off gasing from the water, meaning there's too much in it.

I've quite a few clients that run RO systems for salt water wells - there's some rather productive sandstone formations that just produce salt water, and apparently nothing else. Additionally, I've seen iron levels close to 20 PPM combined with low pH.....That's always fun.

I have a friend that was working on a well in Montana - the well, drill a year prior, would pump a 'bloody mary' mixture of iron colored water for about 5 minutes, then would go to being clean again. Shut it down for 2 minutes, and the same thing would happen. Turns out the pH was something like 4.5 and the well casing was literally being consumed by the water. In fact, I don't believe clear iron levels were all that high once the clean water was flowing.

Water can be fun!

Thanks for the welcome, these forums have proven to be rather entertaining.

-Pierce
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Old 02-19-2012, 03:50 AM   #20
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Re: Rotten Egg Smell In Water


Previously were on well water and the county just switched to RO water.

Now there is a really bad rotten egg smell in the hot water only.

At first the county said they were having a really hard time in seeing any chlorine in the cold water. Eventually a bunch of flushing seemed to clear that up, though there's still the bad smell on the hot side.

There are 2) 40 gallon electric heaters and I'm guessing something funky is going on inside them or inside the hot water piping, which is cpvc.

Considered draining the hot water tanks and to somehow get some bleach inside them. Not sure it that would help.

Not sure if even a trace of chlorine shows up in the hot water or not. I doubt it. Does the rotten egg smell in the hot water usually suggest that it may contain bacteria which could be dangerous?

Any tips would sure be appreciated.


Last edited by etbrown4; 02-19-2012 at 03:49 PM.
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