shower head

Is your hot water smelling like rotten eggs lately? There is no need to fear. Although, getting clean with terrible-smelling water can be stressful. 

Water that smells like sulfur, rotten eggs, or decaying matter is a widespread issue that can cause serious problems beyond feeling embarrassed when inviting guests. The solution is not as easy as replacing your water heater, which could be pretty expensive. Most often than not, there is an underlying cause why your water is smelling awful that even a new water heater cannot resolve.  

Let’s look at the top three reasons why your hot water is smelling terrible and what you can do to resolve it:

1. Bacteria Growth in the Water Heater

If your water heater uses well water, sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB) may be to blame. Small amounts of hydrogen sulfide gas are produced when SRB digests sulfur-based components in water.

The bacteria love the water heater tank’s warm, dark environment. Your water heater’s anodes produce hydrogen ions, which sulfur bacteria utilize to produce hydrogen sulfide gas. Showering atomizes bathwater, elevating the stench, especially if you don’t use the heater for a long time.

Although SRB is not harmful to people, the foul odor from your water heater should be addressed. You can shock the water supply with chlorine, and setting the thermometers to 160°F overnight will do the trick. However, make sure everyone is out or is aware of the rapid rise in hot water temperature.

You may also think about installing a UVC sanitizer to your water source. This kills 99.9 percent of the bacteria passing through it and prevents reinfection.

2. Bacteria Growth in the Drain

Another typical cause of stenchy water is bacteria developing in the drain. Organic matter, such as food waste, gathers on the drain walls over time and becomes a nutrient for bacteria to thrive, causing the rotting smell. 

One method to check if the issue is coming from your drain is to fill a glass halfway with the smelly water from the sink, then move away from the sink. Afterward, swirl the water around within the glass a few times. If the issue is in the drain, the tap water in the glass should be odorless. 

To resolve your drainage problems, pour about half a cup of regular baking soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. Afterward, flush and clean it, and wait fifteen minutes before pouring down hot tap water.

3. Bacteria in the Water Source

Another cause of the rotting egg stench is your water supply. If the water source emanates a terrible smell, it means the water contains hazardous microorganisms that can be harmful when drank or poured over the body.

If you have a water well, the natural chemistry of the groundwater may be promoting bacterial development in the well. For this reason, You need to shock the well and pump out water until the chlorine stench is gone.

In addition, a faulty or incorrectly placed septic system might be near your well. Stop using your water right away and get in touch with your community’s health department. If you use city water, you also need to contact the water supply authority right away.


The presence of bacteria in your plumbing systems is not an ignorable issue. To avoid further contamination, stop using the well’s water immediately and contact your local health authority. If you use city water, you also need to contact the water supply authority.

At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, we are your 24/7 emergency plumbing in Lake County, CA, as well as Mendocino Counties. We are trustworthy, competent, and customer-focused, whether it’s faucet repair, toilet repair, blocked or backing up drains and sewers, or septic systems. We provide fast and efficient plumbing solutions with cutting-edge technology and extensive plumbing experience. Plumbing emergencies don’t wait, so if you’re having some, call us now!