rotten egg smell

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by bullheadpond, Nov 12, 2008.

  1. bullheadpond

    bullheadpond New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Ohio
    I had a well done in March, 202ft down pump is at 100ft. The water is pretty clear but it seems like when the water sits for a few hours and then you turn it on it smells like rotten eggs. if you let the faucet run for about 3-4 minutes the smell goes away. but then if you go back and turn on a few hours later the water smells bad again. Again if i let it run for another 3-4 minutes the smell is gone until you use the water hours later.
    Someone told me that one of those carbon inline water filters that are approx 1ft long will get rid of this problem . Anyone have any thoughts on this?
    Thanks
  2. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Yes, it won't take care of the problem. It may add to it. You may have a lot of bacteria living in this well. Has it been sitting for quite a while?

    Has it ever been disinfected?

    You could try chlorinating it with a few gallons of chlorine chased by a 5 gallon bucket of water to rinse the chlorine off the pipes and wires. Let sit for several hours then pump clear.

    If the chlorine doesn't work, you may have hydrogen sulfide which smells that way, but it always smells, not just part time.

    bob...
  3. bullheadpond

    bullheadpond New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Ohio
    The well just just drilled in march of 2008. The drilling comnapny disifected it when they drilled it.
    It does sit for like 3 weeks a month . It is a vacation home. i only get up there 1 week a month from march till October. After that it will be drained because i don;t heat the place in the winter.
    I did notice that after draining the system last month that the string filter that was in there smelled like rotten eggs really bad.
    Would it be better off not to use a filter at all?

    Won't the chlorine hurt the pump or pressure tank that is in the well. it has one of those tanks actuallly in the well casing instead of one in the house.
  4. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Ditch the inline filter. I wish the company that makes those things would go bankrupt.

    Chlorine will not hurt anything as long as you rinse the pipes real well after pouring the bleach in. Make sure you get it off all the pipes, wire etc that are not in water. Then after several hours, you can run the pump until you smell bleach in the faucets in the house. Then let it soak again for as long as you can (overnight is a good amount of time) then flush till all the bleach smell is gone.

    Letting it set for three weeks shouldn't be enough time for that much bacteria to grow, but that string cartridge filter could be a great breeding ground for bacteria.

    bob..
  5. valveman

    valveman Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    4,370
    Location:
    Lubbock, Texas
    If the bladder in that "in the well tank" is busted, it could also be a breeding ground for bacteria. Check to see if the pump comes on immediately upon opening a faucet, and if the pump goes off immediately after closing a faucet. These is probably a Cycle Stop Valve at the bottom of the tank that will keep the pump running continuously when water is being used. However, if the pump goes off immediately after closing a faucet, instead of taking about 30 seconds, then the bladder in the tank is busted and could be causing the smell. If this is the case, then the smell is just the first of other problems to come. The water logged tank will destroy the Cycle Stop Valve. Then the pump will cycle like crazy while a shower or sink is being used, which will quickly destroy the pump and motor.
  6. sjsmithjr

    sjsmithjr Geologist

    Messages:
    295
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    Bullheadpond, you didn't say if the smell was from both the hot and cold sides or just the hot. If the smell is strong when the water from both the hot and cold faucets is first turned on and it diminishes or goes away after the water has run for a while, or if the smell varies through time, the problem is likely to be sulfur bacteria in the well or water system, not hydrogen sulfide in the groundwater.

    If it is hydrogen sulfide bacteria in the well or the water system, then the advice you have recieved to "shock" the well and disinfect the system is good. You didn't say where you're located, but your state or local health department is often a good source of advise on how to disinfect your well. Here's a link to some information you may find beneficial as well:

    http://www.health.state.mn.us/divs/eh/wells/waterquality/disinfection.pdf

    Post back if the smell is only from the hot side or is present all the time and good luck with solving your problem.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  7. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    H2S gas (sulfur or rotten eggs) odor is produced by bacteria that live in the ground and water. Reducing types of bacteria, like iron, manganese and sulfate are made up of many aerobic and anaerobic types. They all produce gas that is dissolved into water. Coliform bacteria is also a large group of the same types of bacteria and they also can cause odor problems.

    A hot water only odor is caused by sulfate reducing bacteria interacting with an anode rod in the water heater. To prevent the odor, you must remove or replace the anode rod with a type that prevents the gas formation or you must kill the bacteria.

    If the odor is naturally occurring H2S in the groundwater, you must oxidize it and then filter out the resultant particulate matter. You can use chlorine, ozone, hydrogen peroxide, air or a number of different filter minerals that oxidize and filter out the particulates. What type of treatment depends on what and how much of it is on the water in addition to bacteria or H2S. Shocking the well will not get rid of naturally occurring H2S or bacteria for more than a few days or a week usually.

    Shocking a well can cause water quality, pump, power cable and other problems.
  8. sjsmithjr

    sjsmithjr Geologist

    Messages:
    295
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    I would not disagree that it is important to do it properly. It can, however, be an effective treatment, which is not to say that the bacteria can not return. However, if the treatment is successful for an extended period of time, it can be a viable and economical option to treatment systems. Again, I would suggest that the OP contact their local or state health department for for an unbiased opinion and treatment options. They can be very helpful and will know if the groundwater in your area is prone to iron reducing bacteria. As noted by others, it is possible that the source is not your well but somewhere in the system.

    Manure; it smells like manure. I've smelled a lot of nasty orders in groundwater. The worst was after we injected a yeast solution to address HMX contamination in groundwater. I've personally never smelled coliform in groundwater. I'll have to walk down the hall tomorrow and ask the bio guys if they've ever encountered it.
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2008
  9. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Sam, I love your Sig line.

    bob...
  10. Redwood

    Redwood Master Plumber

    Messages:
    7,453
    Location:
    Connecticut
    Me too! It fits very well here lately...:D
  11. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    Looks like some are willing to follow that bit of advice:

    [​IMG]
  12. speedbump

    speedbump Previous member

    Messages:
    4,540
    Location:
    Riverview, Fl.
    Details - Details
  13. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    [​IMG]

    Made my day.

    [Thanks for the cute smilie, Red.]
  14. redwoodvotesoften1

    redwoodvotesoften1 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Hey Southern Man
    Remember win we had that Chili Festival down at the Church House....
    Smellin rotten eggs woulda bin a lot nicer than what u did to the outhouse...:eek:
  15. sjsmithjr

    sjsmithjr Geologist

    Messages:
    295
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    [​IMG]

    Naw; that job was executed by an architect. :rolleyes:

    As for the tag line, the senior geologist at my first job out of college had that phrase, or something close to it, hung up in his office. I forget where it comes from.

    But that's enough thread hijacking for me today. Sure hope bullheadpond gets his bacteria problem fixed!
  16. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    I didn't say you can smell test for Coliform bacteria so yes, you need to do a Coliform test.

    The first time you do a Coliform bacteria test yourself and find Coliform remove the petri dish lid or the Presence/Absence test container cap and take a whiff. Then the next time you are collecting well water samples, smell the water for the same odor and see if over a few years you can learn how to use an educated guess as to the different odors caused by the different types of bacteria found in well water. Not all Coliform contaminated waters will have an odor. More hands on field experience might help.

    BTW, what do you mean what does it smell like, he said "rotten eggs".
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2008
  17. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Done properly or not, damage can be done and usually 6-7 wells out of ten that are found to have Coliform bacteria contamination and are then properly shocked, will have the contamination return within a week or three. Most of the other 3-4 will show a return in the next weeks to a year.

    Other types of bacteria such as reducing types can take much longer. Without constant retesting for Coliform, there is no way to know if it has returned or not but the well should not be assumed to be free of the contamination because it was "properly" shocked.

    The way things are going in a number of states, you may not want to get the government involved, or aware, of a contamination of your well.

    Me neither but I have smelled a certain odor that can be present in some well water that is shown later to have the contamination. Maybe you could use more field experience but tell me, do you really think my accuracy in doing a Coliform test is less than a lab's when I always used Hach Co equipment? In case you do, in 18 years I never had a lab not confirm Coliform in a well that I identified it in. A lot of my work was done under PA DEP regs.
  18. sjsmithjr

    sjsmithjr Geologist

    Messages:
    295
    Location:
    Knoxville, Tennessee
    If I were to recommend that to a client, it could very easily result in a fine and/or suspension or loss of my license (I'm a board certified professional geologist in KY and TN) and lively hood of the past 20 years.

    Many field screening methods, when properly executed, are quite good at confirming or denying the presence of e. coli in groundwater. I would have no reason to doubt your ability to properly execute one. To obtain an accurate count, as well as legally defensible data, I would rely on a fixed based lab for the analysis.

    After great consideration, I think I'll steer clear of discussing your "smell" method. As you are also performing quantitative analysis, I suppose no harm can come of it. Heck, like many geologists and drillers, I still use a couple of coat hangers to witch for buried lines even after the utilities have been marked. Works for me, although many remain skeptical.

    You'll forgive me if I remind you that the OP wasn't inquiring about e.coli but rather iron or sulfate reducing bacteria.

    Take care,
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2008
  19. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    He isn't anyone's client. Frankly I think we have too much government and his well is one of the things most governmental agencies aren't into yet. If it were mine, I'd keep it that way and take care of any problems myself, to my satisfaction. It used to be the American way... he (and all others that read this now or years from now) is being given the info to act on free of charge with no obligation.

    The EPA and most states' standard is <1 CFU (colony forming unit) per 100 ml sample of water; that's with a 50x microscope. So the number of colonies, or the count, isn't of any importance IMO. In residential if there is any number, the water is not potable. In commercial, you do 5 check samples. If any fail, it is not potable.

    If I collected the samples, I always smelled the water by spraying it from the boile rdrain valve on teh pressure tank into a small bucket. I smelled the air coming out of the bucket for any odor. The reason I did it was due to many people not admitting to, or forgetting an odor when asked about odors. Especially guys wouldn't mention an odor but then when I smelled something and mentioned it or questioned how long they had the odor, many times they'd tell me of their wife having complained about one for some time "but it doesn't bother me". So had I not done that, and sold equipment, they may not be satisfied but not say anything to me about it, just their neighbors, friends, coworkers and probably some strangers.

    In his first post he said: I had a well done in March, 202ft down pump is at 100ft. The water is pretty clear but it seems like when the water sits for a few hours and then you turn it on it smells like rotten eggs.

    You must be assuming that "rotten eggs" is from IRB or SRB only. I don't agree. He could have a contaminated faucet tip and if so, I can all but guarantee it isn't from any type of reducing type bacteria. From my experience, it very well could be caused by Coliform and/or E-Coli or other types of bacteria.
  20. bullheadpond

    bullheadpond New Member

    Messages:
    17
    Location:
    Ohio
    smell

    I beleive Speedbump was right. I haven't used a filter at all this summer and the water doesn't smell anywhere near as bad as last year. And it seems to be staying clearer also.
    Thanks for the info
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