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Is Smelly Hot Water Dangerous?

Should You Be Concerned if You Have Smelly Hot Water in Your Home?

If you are a homeowner who has private well water at your residence, you may assume that water that comes directly from the earth will be pure and crystal clear. This isn't always the case. Often, this “natural” water may smell or taste bad. Learn what to do when smelly hot water becomes a problem in your home.

What Causes Smelly Hot Water?

Before you go straight to the source of your smelly hot water, check around your house to make sure that nothing inside your home is causing the smell. If you've determined without a doubt that your water is the culprit, it may stink due to one of the following reasons.

smelly hot water heater
Gas Water Heater (left) and Electric Water Heater (right) Can Cause Rotten Egg Odors
Hydrogen Sulfide

You may be familiar with hydrogen sulfide, a form of sulfur, causing a “rotten egg” smell, but you may have never heard of this sewage-like stink linked to hot water in a home. This compound is very common in homes with untreated well water, and if it is not treated adequately, it can pose a danger to human health.

In hot water systems, a smelly hot water problem usually originates from a buildup of sulfur or iron bacteria.  These bacteria can thrive in some water heaters and give off hydrogen sulfide gas that smells like rotten eggs.

This can happen to your hot water tank for two reasons: The water may have sat unused in the tank for too long, or, in the case of well water, forgoing chlorine treatments can lead to the proliferation of sulfate bacteria.

A Faulty Softener System

In some cases, the magnesium anode rod inside a water softener system can combine with the compounds in the soft water to form hydrogen sulfide gas.

How Do I Fix Smelly Hot Water?

Fortunately, if the problem is in your water heater, treating it is as easy as installing a small, inexpensive screen filter and a bottle of hydrogen peroxide.

The Water Heater Odor Killer Filter is a chemically-resistant pre-filter designed to withstand high temperatures and chemical concentrations.  As such, it can be a very effective system for purging bacteria and odors from a contaminated water heater.

Simply install the filter on the cold line to the water heater, unscrew the bottom sump, and add 1 pint of 3% hydrogen peroxide (available at any drug store).  Then, turn your water back on and run hot water for several minutes before allowing your water heater to sit for about 3 – 4 hours.

Well water can be perfectly safe to drink and use every day if it is treated — but often, owners wrongly assume that they do not need to take action because well water is safer than other sources of water.

According to the CDC, well owners have the responsibility of ensuring that the water coming from their properties is safe to drink. It is important to have your water issues tested, treated, and addressed before they create bigger problems for your family.

How Do I Fix Smelly Cold Well Water?

If your cold well water smells bad you have several good options to completely eliminate this odor:

  1. Install a whole house peroxide injection system
  2. Install a chlorinator to remove odors and also kill the odor-producing bacteria
  3. Hook up a whole house Sulfur Filter System

Contact Clean Water Store

At the Clean Water Store, we pride ourselves on helping our customers come home to the purest, most reliable water possible. Consider our filtration systems, water treatments, and more. Contact us today with questions. We look forward to helping you solve your smelly hot water problem as quickly as we can!



1. https://www.health.state.mn.us/communities/environment/water/wells/waterquality/hydrosulfide.html

2. https://www.cdc.gov/healthywater/drinking/drinking-water-faq.html

3. https://www.osha.gov/hydrogen-sulfide

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  • Clean Water Systems & Stores, Inc., Water Treatment Equipment,Service & Supplies, Santa Cruz, CA

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