Sulfur gas in water wells

by | Jul 20, 2021

Does your water smell like rotten eggs? Believe it or not, that is a good thing! I know you think I have lost my mind. When you hear what I have to say, you will understand why it is good, and how to deal with it.

Sulfur gas is created in your well by bacteria. I know, you thought there was no bacteria in your water. Sorry, there is. Luckily, this type of bacteria is harmless to you. 

When the gas is produced into the water while the water is under pressure, then the gas dissolves into the water. Think about your favorite soft drink. Probably a Dr. Pepper. The carbon dioxide gas is dissolved into the drink and it stays in solution until you open the container. When you open it up, the drink is no longer under pressure and the gas starts to come out of solution. 

Some wells have more sulfur gas for 2 reasons

  1. The bacteria feed on certain minerals that exist in the ground. If your well has more of those minerals than other wells, then the colony of bacteria can grow bigger. 
  2. The amount of gas that can be dissolved into the water depends on the pressure that the water is under. The more standing water in your well, the higher the concentration of gas that can be dissolved into the water.

Remember when I said that having sulfur gas was a good thing. You thought I had lost my mind. Now you realize that when you have sulfur gas, it means that you have a very high-water level in your well. We all want that! 

So how do you get rid of the sulfur gas? There are 2 common ways that this is done.

  1. Chlorine injection. You can have a chlorinator installed on your water system. This injects a small amount of liquid bleach into your water line. The chlorine kills the bacteria and it eats away most of the gas. If you get the concentration levels right, this fixes the problem. Many customers complain about the high concentration of chlorine in their water. So, some customers install a de-chlorinator to take it back out. 
  2. Storage tank system. Remember that Dr. Pepper? How do you get it to “go flat”? Open it up and let it sit there for a few hours. If you put your well water into a large storage tank, the sulfur gas will dissolve out of the water and escape through the vent. Problem solved. And the storage tank will give you many other benefits that you should consider like longer pump life, back up water, getting rig of sediment and iron, etc.

Have you ever noticed that the sulfur gas smell is worse on the hot water than in the cold water? If so, then that tells me that you have a standard tank style water heater. That water heater is a bacteria hotel. It has everything a bacterium wants. Its warm in there and the anode rod in the tank is made of Magnesium. That is one of the minerals they like to eat. If only your hot water stinks, here are some things you can do to fix this.

  1. Replace your anode rod with a “no-stink” rod. They are made from a different material that won’t feed the bacteria.
  2. Replace the water heater with an on-demand unit.
  3. Inject Chlorine to kill those buggers
  4. Turn the temperature up. Studies have shown that if you get the temperature above 120 degrees, they can’t survive. This is very dangerous if you have small children in the house.

There are many systems out there that claim to get rid of sulfur gas. Most of them have some success. But, if you want it done right, the two options listed above are the tried and true options that always work in our area. Give us a call and tell us how we can help you with your stinky water.