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Pee-Yew, Smelly Well Water: A Well Water Treatment Guide

smelly well water

Yuck! Does your well smell unpleasant lately? This could be because of several different factors, including the presence of sulfur or natural metals in your water. Don’t worry just yet–we’ve put together a guide on the different odors you might smell and what to do about them. Continue reading to find out what to do about your smelly well water.

What Are the Purpose of Wells?

Groundwater wells are used for a direct water supply for homes in order to access underground water. Are you thinking about getting a well? Here are 5 advantages of installing a well on your property.

Keeping wells clean is important for having safe drinking water. If your well water is starting to smell, it could be due to several things. The presence of nitrates, iron, sulfates, and bacteria in your well water can be dangerous and will affect how your drinking water smells and tastes.

Some common odors that a private well owner might find coming from their well include the smell of sulfur, fish, dirt, or rotten eggs. 

What to Do if Your Well Water Starts to Smell

If you’re starting to smell something foul coming from your water source, you’ll need to distinguish what you could be smelling. 

Depending on what odor you’re smelling from your well, this could be an indicator of harmful or abnormal bacteria present in your water. The varying levels of impurities in your water can lead to damaging your plumbing and pipes.

To begin getting to the bottom of why your well is emitting a bad smell, you’ll need to find out exactly what odor you’re smelling.

Distinguishing Between Odors

When looking at your well’s quality of water, it’s important to understand the characteristics of your water.

This includes the levels of impurities in your water and the pH of your well’s water. These factors are meant to balance out and provide you with natural drinking water. However, the water in your well can be affected by external sources, such as traces of minerals and decaying materials.

This leads to rotten odors that are unwanted and unpleasant to smell. Next, we’ll take a look at the most common odors to smell and what they mean.

What the Smell of Rotten Eggs Means

Are you smelling rotten eggs in your well or from your sink faucet? Unfortunately, this is common to find from groundwater sources like wells.

The smell of rotten eggs is usually an indicator that there are traces of sulfur bacteria in your well. This is because of the lack of oxygen in your well, leading to hydrogen sulfate gas being produced.

Another way that sulfur bacteria can make their way into your water is from sulfur reactions in the ground, joining with your groundwater. 

If you’re smelling rotten eggs, you should consider testing your water and then investing in an aeration system. These systems are effective in ridding your well of sulfur odors, as they combine dissolved oxygen and carbon. This combination will filter out the sulfur bacteria from your water and will return your well to normal.

After installing your aeration system, it’s recommended to use an oxidant in the form of chlorine or injections of ozone. This should eliminate the unpleasant rotten eggs smell from your water source.

What The Smell of Dirt Means

Another common odor to smell from your well may be an earthy, dirty smell. This can be from the presence of iron bacteria.

If you’ve tested your well and your well water has high levels of iron, this means that you have iron bacteria in your water. While iron bacteria is not dangerous for your health, it can result in bad-tasting water and slimy pipes or plumbing.

When iron and oxygen mix, iron bacteria forms and creates a slimy substance that smells like dirt.

If your well water smells like dirt, you can install a chlorine chemical feed system. By doing this, you’ll kill the bacteria present in your water and filter out the iron as well. This should return your well water to normal, pleasant drinking water.

What the Smell of Fish Means

Even though the smell of fish coming from your well or water sources in your home is alarming and unpleasant, it’s not harmful to your health.

The smell of fish is usually due to high levels of barium or cadmium. These are natural metals that originate from natural deposits. If you have old pipes or plumbing, it could be more common to have these metals get into your water due to contamination.

Don’t worry if you’re smelling fishy water–you can treat this by using reverse osmosis water filters in your well. These filters sift out cadmium and barium and improve the taste of your water. 

How Smelly Well Water Affects Your Health

While the smells of fishy or dirty water are not indicators of dangerous water, smelling rotten eggs from your well can lead to some health issues.

As we covered above, the smell of rotten eggs in your well water is usually an indicator of the presence of sulfur gas. Sulfur gas is harmful to humans and exposing yourself to it for a prolonged period of time can lead to health problems and sickness.

Hydrogen sulfate is a gas that can emit from your well and interfere with your health. If you interact with this gas for any period of time unprotected, you might face issues such as:

  • Watery eyes
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Dizziness

Depending on how short or long you’re exposed to hydrogen sulfate, you may experience these symptoms at varying levels.

To avoid issues like these, it’s highly recommended that you frequently test your well water.

How Often You Should Test Your Well Water

You should not wait until your well water starts to smell or taste funny in order to have it tested.

In fact, you should have your well water professionally tested once a year. This will help you gauge the levels of bacteria, nitrates, and pH in your water. You’ll also be able to prevent foul odors ahead of time by keeping yourself informed on your well water quality.

Maintaining Your Well Water

Whether you install a filtering system or have your well water professionally tested, taking action on your smelly well water will save you grief and discomfort later.

If you’re in need of well maintenance, take a look at the services we offer.

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