Thursday, April 24, 2014

Toilet Tank Inspection For Unpleasurable Odors


My problem is very strange, I have odor in some parts of the house but not in the other. For example my upstairs bathrooms have really stinky smelly water when we first turn on the water. This is worse if we have been away for a day or two I noticed.

This is driving my daughters crazy, what can I do? Our downstairs bathroom and kitchen sink are fine.. no odor! We do have water heater odor problems, if we leave the house for several days, we notice some rotten-egg odor from the water heater at first.

We bought this house last year and it had sat for some months before we moved in. We had our well water tested and it came up positive for coliform so we shocked the well with bleach and now it tested OK, no bacteria.

Thanks for any help you can provide,

Phyllis R.

Dear Phyllis,

Actually we run into this a lot, this a common problem for many wells with sulfur and/or iron bacteria. Some wells have high levels of these bacteria which metabolize sulfates in the water and produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which give the water the terrible ‘rotten-egg’ odor.
woman smelling bad odor from water
By shock chlorinating the well, you have reduced and/or eliminated in the short term the activity of these bacteria perhaps.  However, these bacteria live in pipes inside a bio-film, which is a microscopic gelatinous coating, in which they live in and multiply.  Some pipes in the home that are not used as much as others, will allow these bio-films to occur and then the odors come back.
The first step is to perform a toilet tank inspection and see what it looks like.  If you see slime, or stringy material growing out from the sides, or if you see bubbles or froth on the top of the water in the tank, this is a sign of iron or sulfur bacteria.
toilet with iron bacteria
Toilet with Iron Bacteria
toilet with manganese
Toilet with Manganese (Notice Black Discoloration)
 For this we recommend a series of chlorine shocks of the piping, once a month for several months.  Eventually this will eliminate the problem. If you find it won’t go away, you can also install a disinfection system using chlorination or UV light to destroy the bacteria as they enter the home from the well.  Note: if you did use UV system, the water would need to be filtered of all iron and any high levels of hardness or turbidity, as UV only works on water that can allow the transmission of the UV rays to penetrate the water to be effective.
uv sterilizer
Click Here to view our selection of UV Sterilizers
Also perform an inspection of your water heater by draining the water heater and removing and inspecting the anode rod.  If the anode rod is worn or severely corroded replace it with an aluminum-zinc type, which may help reduce the odor problem from the water heater.

We hope this information helps you solve your problems, if you have any further questions, or would like to update us on your progress  - we love pictures and testimonials! - you can reach us at or on Facebook. Thanks for the letter and happy flushing!