Stinky Water

We are looking to buy a house and have seen a lovely one with many, many assets.

One small drawback, however, is that the well has sulpher (sp?) rich water.

I have been assured it's perfectly drinkable and poses no real threat to health in any way. (The water in the well will be completely tested before I would even consider it, let me assure you.) I have been assured it has been tested ever year, and always comes up good to go.

I did enquire about the affect on dishwasher, washer, tub, etc. And was told that some maintenance to remove hard water build up is the only thing.

We have been drinking strictly bottled water for ages, delivered in 18 litre bottles. So that's of no real concern.

They have an installed a treatment thingy, but the water still smells.

Now that I've had some time to think about it. I can't imagine stepping into a stinky shower, or then getting out all stinky.

I got a few questions.
Won't it make me and my clothes and dishes kinda, well, stinky? Where did that sulphar come from anyway, how'd it get into the water? Can I water a garden with this water? What about the pool?

Then I was thinking about installing a water catchment system and adding a cistern. But what about the fact that this is a cold climate? Can I still cistern?

Have any of you ever dealt with such a problem? Know someone who did?

What might I search under, exactly, to find out about this. Surely it has a more technical name than stinky water.

Any kind assistance you could offer would be greatly appreciated.


If the water itself is stinky, then I don’t know. My dad has a well, and the tap sputters, letting in some of the air. The water smells fine, but the air is rancid. He just left it alone. That’s my experience, sorry I can’t help.

The sulfur comes from the ground. Some areas have high sulfur, some don’t. As water seeps through it picks up anything water soluable. [OK, sulfur is not water soluable, but some sulfur compands are.]

I agree it could be safe to drink, but I would not want to. I would also not want to get in a shower or a pool with the stinky water.

Do a search for water treatment systems.

The water is fine for watering the garden.

I doubt your treatment system will handle filling up the pool in a timely manner. You can have a tanker truck bring in water.

A cistern should work fine. You can always get a floating heater for it.

In Warm Springs, Va there is a famous bath that is very high in sulpur. You can smell the sulphur very distinctly. You can drink the water but it is not very palatable. I went to the baths and swam around for about an hour, and I don’t remember the smell as having any effect. The smell did not transfer from the water.

Maybe you can test-drive the shower, or just shut yourself in the bathroom and run the hot water for 5 minutes or until you get a nice sulfur-smelling steam thing going. Imagine living with that every day. Maybe take swig of the water and spit it out, like when you rinse after brushing your teeth.

I’ve stayed in houses with sulfur-smelling water and all I can say is that the house would have to be pretty darn special for me to put up with the water. These ones were, for the time I was there, but I don’t know if I’d buy one. If the house is the perfect little gem that’s totally unique, then it might be worth living with. It will be testament to the imperfection of things.

It’s something that can be gotten used to, but I agree with starfish in that although it’s technically safe to drink, I’d opt to drink the non-smelly variety.

Add some Hydrogen Peroxide & go into the Sulfuric Acid business. Then you can charge the local mafia for every body they want to get rid of.

Charge by the pound, of course :smiley:

What? It’s mineral sulfur? Nevermind.

Perhaps the sellers aren’t maintaining their “thingy” properly. After a while, you get lazy, then you get used to it, then it doesn’t bother you.

I did a search for water treatment sulfer odor and got lot’s of hit, like this one, which mentions water treatment options.

At any rate, I’d think you’d be able to treat it. Just take the expense into account when making an offer.

My lovely bride and I rented a house that had a lot of great attributes when we first moved to Vermont. The only bad thing about this place was the sulpher in the water. There are treatments that can be added to water heaters, wells, or on a smaller scale: washing machines and dishwashers, if you want to do it that way. Either way, some times you run out of the additive and have to go buy more. In the mean time the water stinks. The house stinks. The dishes stink. The clothes stink.

Even at the very best case, you’d be adding chemicals to your water to take care of the sulpher. Both stay in the water, but don’t smell bad after they’ve reacted. That, in my opinion, was no comparison with water that’s clean to start with. As with any health issue you’ve got to decide for yourself whether it’s worth it to ingest (through drinking, washing dishes, or showering) the original sulpherous water with a water treatment, or if you’d rather live elsewhere. We chose to move.

One of the main deciding factors was that my bride was bearing our child. We figured that as adults who have done most of our growing and development we could put up with the inconvenience for quite some time. But in the interests of insuring a safe environment for our child, it was a no brainer to move.

FWIW. . .

A friend of mine in Florida has well water. On my last visit I complained about the sulfur smell, and he told me that they were goin to install an aerator to take care of the smell.

Not sure what it is in this context, what it does or how it works, but he assured me that on my next visit I wouldn’t smell sulphur anymore.