What is Hydrogen Sulfide?

Have you ever turned on your faucet and a rotten egg smell is so strong you have to plug your nose.  It can happen.  Known as hydrogen sulfide, it will make anyone not want to turn their faucet back on.   This gas colorless and the good news is we dissect this odor and how you can rid it from your water.

What is hydrogen sulfide?
Hydrogen sulfide gas occurs naturally in the ground and will originate from organic matter.  As water travels through the earth’s surface, it will mix with rock formations and soil containing minerals of sulfate creating a hydrogen sulfide gas.  As this occurs, sulfur-reducing bacteria in ground water will use sulfur as an energy source to chemically change from sulfate to sulfide

Is hydrogen sulfide harmful to humans?
Hydrogen sulfide gas is not harmful to humans and oftentimes does not relate to the sanitary quality of the water.

Can hydrogen sulfide be tested?
Since it is a gas, hydrogen sulfide must be tested on site.

Where does hydrogen sulfide gas develop and how do you rid it from your water?
– The odor could be coming from the well pressure tank and typically originates from a bad bladder tank.  The best way to rid the odor from the well pressure tank is to replace it.

– If the smell is from the hot water only, the odor is coming from the water heater.  We recommend removing the anode rod. Inside your water heater is a magnesium rod to prevent the water heater from corroding quicker.  The rod will give off a rotten egg smell in your hot water only.  If this occurs, a homeowner can replace the rod with a different material such as aluminum.  There is potential the smell will not dissipate with the aluminum rod.  Keep in mind the anode rod will break down over time and settle in the bottom of the water heater creating rusty water in the hot water.  It is our company’s belief to remove the anode rod completely, sanitize the water heater, and the smell does not come back.

– If the smell is coming from both the hot and cold water, but only from the faucets hooked up to water treatment equipment, contact your local water professional to discuss disinfection options.

– If the smell is coming from both the hot and cold water, but weakens after water has run, it could be coming from the sulfur bacteria in the well system.  Contact your local well driller so they can chlorinate your well.

– If the smell is coming from both the hot and cold water, but stays the same after water is run, then the odor is likely coming from hydrogen sulfide gas in the groundwater.  A homeowner can drill a new well, but does not guarantee better quality water.  The best and least costly option is to install water treatment equipment in your home to remove the odor.  We recommend using the Kinetico Sulfur Guard.  It is a system that uses a sulfaban media and regenerates with hydrogen peroxide.

As with any contaminant in water, they can be complex and require a water professional to find the best solution to fix the issue. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our water professionals at (815) 385-3093 or contact us.