Nothing is worse than turning on your hot water to wash your face at night and being hit with the overwhelming smell of rotten eggs. If you are experiencing a distinct odor coming from your hot water that smells like rotten eggs, it is most likely hydrogen sulfide (H2S) gas. Don’t panic. While extremely high levels of hydrogen sulfide can be harmful, H2S is a chemical that can be detected by the nose at a very low level. In fact, you will likely smell it at a concentration that is 1/400 times lower than the threshold for harmful human health effects. Hydrogen sulfide gas is a natural product of decay.
The water in your home naturally contains various amounts of sulfur, as well as naturally occurring sulfate-reducing bacteria. These organisms are harmless. If your water is treated by the city, most are killed when your city adds chlorine to the water. However, there are times when your hot water tank provides the perfect situation for hydrogen sulfide (H2S) to form. When the sulfur in your water combines with this bacteria plus a corrosive metal inside your water heater, the final result will be hydrogen sulfide (H2S) – which gives off that classic (and unpleasant) rotten egg smell.
The rotten egg odor from your hot water may be worsened if you use a water softener or if you let your water tank sit unused for a long time period. A water softener increases the conductivity of the water in your tank, which causes the metal rod (or anode) to corrode faster and create the smelly gas sooner. Likewise, if you visit a cabin that has not been occupied in a while, the H2S gas can build up and cause you to step back in disgust after you turn on that hot shower for the first time in weeks.
To eliminate the smell of sulfur from your pipes, call a professional plumber for help. Metro Septic and Plumbing have experts who understand all types of hot water heaters and what it takes for them to function best. They will present solutions to prevent the formation of the H2S gas and kill the bacteria that is causing it in the first place. It is understandable that you want your hot water to be odorless and clean at all times.