Do I need to test for hydrogen sulfide? (rotten egg smell)

Discussion in 'Water Softener Forum, Questions and Answers' started by Drewmcg, Jun 21, 2011.

  1. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg New Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    Ann Arbor, MI
    I get a significant rotten egg smell from both my cold and hot water taps. This exists throughout the day (not just first thing in the morning).

    The smell is not overwhelming, but nonetheless bums me out. For example, I can take a shower without it bothering me, but if I lift a glass of water to my mouth, I smell it and cannot stomach the idea of drinking it.

    I moved into this house a few weeks ago and had the water tested. There was coliform bacteria in the water, and so I had the landlord chlorinate/shock the well/plumbing. Tested for bacteria a few days later, and results were "absent." Yet the rotten egg smell persists.

    Other results from water tests:

    total hardness: 24 grains (400 ppm)
    iron: 2.6 ppm
    ph: 7.5
    no arsenic, lead=0.003, nitrates = 0.002

    I have not had the maganese level checked. My county does not offer a test for hydrogen sulfide (but does test for "sulfer" for "surface water"--is this different)? I cannot find a home test for hydrogen sulfide that does not come in a 50-strip pack (way overkill).

    I have a 14-year old Culligan water softener (Mark 89, 0.7 cu ft resin) that manually regenerates every 3 days with 10 lbs of salt and adequately softens the water and removes the iron. There are 2 of us in this 1.5 bathroom house. Clearly, the softener does nothing for the rotten egg smell.


    (1) Do I really need to get the hydrogen sulfide tested to determine the best approach to eliminating the rotten egg smell? In other words, would one approach be more cost-effective if I have 0.5 ppm H2S, and a different one advisable if I have 1 ppm H2S. Or instead:
    (2) Are the subjective parameters I have described above adequate to identify the best approach?; and
    (3) With rotten egg smell consistently present on a cold, unsoftened outdoor tap water even after shocking, is it a reliable conclusion that the problem is H2S gas dissolved in the well water and not a bacteria issue?

    Last edited: Jun 21, 2011
  2. Drewmcg

    Drewmcg New Member

    Jun 18, 2011
    Ann Arbor, MI
    Okay, so I just double-checked, and the cold, untreated well water at the outdoor tap does seems to have less smell than the cold kitchen tap water. Since both source flow through the pressure tank, could this point to the softener as a possible contributor? Not sure whether the pump guy disiCnfected the softener; I think he put the system in "bypass" before he ran the chlorine to the pumps . . . .

    Anyone know how to disinfect a 14-year old Mark 89 Culligan (.7 ft3 resin)?
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  4. Gary Slusser

    Gary Slusser That's all folks!

    Aug 31, 2004
    Wherever I park the motorhome.
    Test again for coliform.

    IMO you should disinfect the water with chlorine or hydrogen peroxide so you know for sure you don't get coliform without knowing it until someone gets sick. Females suffer first. You can not use UV with any H2S or iron or manganese in the water. That will kill the H2S "sulfur" too, and any iron and manganese. That will help the softener last longer and reduce salt usage because it won't have to remove the iron.
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