15 Jan 2015

H2Odors Part 1: What Causes the Smell?

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Man Making a Face

Aside from the many benefits that come with having your own private source of water at home, one of the biggest questions we get asked here at C&J Well Company regards the possibility of odors in well water. We’re happy to provide some answers and solutions to the question, and thought it would make sense to share this information via our blog as well. For the sake of length, we’ll split this article into three parts. Part 1 focuses on the causes of smells in well water, Part 2 identifies the most common odors and Part 3 will instruct you how to prevent and eliminate odors in your home water supply. Be sure to check back here often for the upcoming parts of this article!

“Rotten Eggs” in My Well Water?

Unless an old chicken coop fell into your well, that rotten egg smell you notice with your water isn’t actually rotten eggs. The likely culprit is a gas called hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide is a byproduct of bacteria breaking down organic material in an oxygen-poor environment (think of swamps or sewers), and it also occurs naturally in places like volcanoes, hot springs, and groundwater.

Speaking of bacteria, the presence of hydrogen sulfide inside your well can also mean that you have sulfur bacteria down there, too.

Does Hydrogen Sulfide Pose a Health Risk?

It is important to remember that a sulfur smell doesn’t typically mean your water is of poor quality. Sulfur bacteria by themselves are not harmful. Although in very high quantities, hydrogen sulfide is dangerous, very rarely does it pose any kind of health risk when naturally present in a home’s water supply.

Notice we say “naturally” present. Hydrogen sulfide can also be found in sewage, runoff, and wastewater, so it is always a good idea to have your water quality tested by an expert like C&J Well Company. You want to make sure that your home’s water is free of pathogens and other harmful materials.

Will Hydrogen Sulfide or Bacteria Damage My Well?

The presence of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria inside your water well can cause other problems, especially if left ignored for a long period of time. Bacteria can gum up vital well components and other parts of your home’s plumbing, which may lead to clogs and damage. Hydrogen sulfide gas can stain plumbing parts and fixtures, and even corrode metal surfaces.

What Can I Do About Smelly Water?

Remember, the mere presence of that “rotten egg” smell by itself shouldn’t sound alarm bells, because it is a relatively common aspect of well water systems. If odors appear or change suddenly or dramatically, or you experience problems with your home’s water well or plumbing systems, you should give C&J Well Company a call . Even if you don’t need maintenance or repairs, you can have better peace of mind by allowing us to test your water quality for safety and health standards.

Learn more about hydrogen sulfide, sulfur bacteria, and the health of your water well by contacting C&J Well Company in Indianapolis today. And stay tuned for H2Odors Part 2: Identifying Smells in Your Water.