Ground wells represent a life-line for several farming and mountainous communities. When the water is fresh, ground wells are a wonderful alternative to a city’s water supply. However, when they have fallen on difficult times, the sulfur within the well can cause great discomfort for those who regularly rely on the water source.
Fortunately, there are several things that can be done to identify the origin of the odor and treat the problem. By following some of the below steps, you can be sure that the days of unpleasant odor within your well water will be over.
The first step you should take is to smell test the hot water against the cold water. In many cases the odor is a direct result of the water heater developing hydrogen sulfide gas within the main water chamber. If you find that only the hot water is producing a sulfuric odor, it is then likely that the water heater is the source of the problem. If this applies to you, there are several things which can be done to remove the existence of sulfur bacteria within the water.
A. Replace Magnesium Anode
You may need to replace or remove the magnesium anode. Replacing the anode with a different type of metal or removing it altogether can have the effect of removing the production of hydrogen sulfide gas within the water heater.
B. Pump with Chlorine
Have your water heater pumped with a chlorine cleaning solution. This should be enough to kill the sulfur bacteria and maintain fresh smelling water for a number of weeks.
C. Increase Temperature
Increase the temperature of the water heater to more than 160 degrees Fahrenheit or 71 degrees Celsius for 3-6 hours. This will have the effect of raising the temperature to a heat level in which the sulfur bacteria will be incapable of surviving. Performing this task is on a regular basis should maintain the fresh water that is clear of sulfur bacteria. Please note: Increasing the water heater can be dangerous if done incorrectly. You should first consult a water heater dealer regarding your specific water heater model limitations, as well as inquiring on how to operate the pressure relief valve.
In the great majority of cases, the smell of sulfur and other unpleasantness permeating from well water is perfectly safe and does not represent a health issue. The smell is most often the result of sulfur bacteria which occurs naturally within the ground. However, there there have been reported cases of sewage leaking into well water that can cause similar odor to sulfur bacteria. In order to be absolutely sure, you can have a sanitary test performed to record levels of coliform bacteria and nitrate within the ground water.
When it is found that both the hot and cold water carry the same smell of sulfur, it is very likely that the sulfur bacteria has made it's way within the the well water, water distribution center and water softener. Though the treatment of sulfur bacteria within these areas are not always easy, the following steps can be performed to ensure fresh smelling well water. 1. When sulfur bacteria is found within the well water, water distribution center or the water softener, can be treated by flushing with a strong chlorine solution. Often this is not enough, and the well may need physical scrubbing performed of the interior walls with strong cleaning solutions. 2. If the sulfur bacteria is found within the water treatment device or water softener, you should contact the manufacturer to regarding treatments for disinfecting the devices.
If hydrogen sulfide gas exists within your ground water, there are several things that can be done to further treat the water to remove the sulfuric odor. If you are dealing with low doses of hydrogen sulfide gas, it is likely that all you will need is an activated carbon filter. If your hydrogen sulfide gas problem presents a problem of 1mg/L - 6mg/L you may need to purchase an oxidizing filter. Finally, the hydrogen sulfide gas is at a reading over 6mg/L you will need to install an oxidation-filtration system.
We have strong sulfur odors in our condo's sprinkler system which uses about
80,000 gallons a month of water from our 180 foot deep well. Is there a system
available that can cure the problem? Your help would be appreciated……