Well Water Smells Like Sewage [Eliminating Odor]


If your drinking water has a sewage stench, you generally won’t want to drink it because sewage is one of the most repulsive smells that can emanate from anywhere.

There are various reasons why water smells like sewage, some of which are riskier than others.

We’ll discuss the most frequent causes of a sewage odor in your well water in this tutorial, along with essential advice on how to permanently get rid of the foul odor.

In conclusion, sulfur gas or bacteria in your water supply are typically to blame for a sewage or rotten egg odor or foul odor. If the cause of the smell cannot be found, you can remedy the problem by installing a water purification system.

Why Is It Important?

Water is an essential component of our daily lives and is crucial to maintaining our overall health and well-being. However, water that smells like sewage can be a cause for concern and can negatively impact our daily routines.

Not only can it affect the taste and odor of drinking water, but it can also make washing clothes and dishes an unpleasant experience.

Furthermore, if left untreated, it can potentially cause health problems. It is important to understand the reasons why your water may smell like sewage and take appropriate action to address the issue promptly.

The causes of sewage-like smells in water can vary from simple issues, such as clogged drains, to more complex problems, such as malfunctioning septic systems/improperly located septic systems, or contaminated groundwater.

In some cases, the solution may be as simple as flushing out the pipes or adding a water treatment system, while in other cases, it may require a more extensive repair or replacement of the affected system.

Regardless of the cause, it is important to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage to your plumbing and to ensure the safety and quality of your water.

By taking action and seeking professional help when needed, you can prevent the unpleasant smell of sewage from affecting your daily life and protect your family’s health.

4 Reasons Why Your Water Smells Like Sewage

Bacteria Growing In Your Drain

First of all, sewage odors may not even come from your source water, despite what you may believe. Every time you open your faucet, do you smell sewage? This may be as a result of germs building up in the drain of your sink.

One of the most common reasons for tap water smelling like sewage is the growth of bacteria within the water source itself. In some cases, this can be due to an accumulation of decaying organic matter deposited, such as leaves or other debris, in the water source.

As the organic matter decomposes, it can provide a food source for bacteria, leading to an increase in bacterial growth and the accompanying foul odor.

Bacterial growth can be aided by a buildup of food waste and other organic material on the drain’s walls and surrounding the plughole. These bacteria may release hydrogen sulfide gas, which has a distinct smell similar to that of rotten eggs or sewage.

This fragrance can be activated by water flowing down your drain, giving the impression that the water is the source of the foul odor.

Fill a glass with water and carry it somewhere else in your kitchen to see if the sewage water stench is coming from your drain. Stir the water in the glass before taking a whiff.

You most likely have a problem with sulfur bacteria or iron bacteria in your drain if you can’t smell anything coming from the glass.

Iron, Sulfur, Or Bacteria In Your Water Source

If the problem isn’t with your drain, it can be with your water supply. Another common cause of well water smelling like sewage is the presence of sulfur bacteria. These bacteria produce hydrogen sulfide gas, which has a distinct rotten egg odor.

Sulfur bacteria are commonly found in groundwater and can thrive in areas with low oxygen levels, such as deep wells or areas with heavy sediment buildup. Your water may smell like rotten eggs or sewage if bacteria or sulfur are present.

There is naturally abundant hydrogen sulfide gas in the ground in some areas, and this gas can leak into groundwater sources and emit a unique rotten egg stench.

If dangerous germs have gotten into your water supply, you may have a septic system nearby that is either malfunctioning or incorrectly placed (improperly located septic system). You can get assistance from your local health agency to solve this problem.

Furthermore, iron may interact with bacteria to generate iron bacterium, which has a reputation for smelling like sewage or filth due to decaying organic matter deposited.

The toilet bowl and sinks are frequently home to bacterial iron, which has a musty water smell and an orange, sludge-like look.

Your water may smell foul as the natural groundwater chemistry promotes the growth of bacteria that use iron as a food source.

Faulty Septic System

Have you ever noticed that just your hot water smells like rotten eggs or sewage?

If your well water smells like sewage and you have a septic system on your property, it is possible that the septic system is leaking or malfunctioning.

When a septic system fails, sewage can leak into the surrounding soil and contaminate nearby wells or groundwater sources. This would contaminate the ground or well water.

This water smell can be caused by a variety of factors, including nearby industrial or agricultural activities, contamination from underground storage tanks or other sources of pollution, or naturally occurring minerals or chemicals in the groundwater also known as natural groundwater chemistry.

Sewer Gas Leaks

Lastly, a possible cause of well water smelling like sewage is a sewer gas leak in hot water tank. Sewer gas is a mixture of gasses, including methane and hydrogen sulfide, which can escape from damaged or deteriorating sewer pipes and contaminate the tap water supply.

How to Fix Water that Smells Like Sewage

Removing Bacterial Growth

To address bacterial growth in your well, it is important to have it professionally cleaned and disinfected.

This may involve removing any debris or sediment from the well, scrubbing the interior walls, and disinfecting the water with a chlorine solution or other treatment method.

In addition, regular well maintenance, including periodic cleaning and disinfection, can help prevent future bacterial growth such as iron bacteria.

However, before cleaning your well, it is important to determine the source of the bacterial growth such as iron and sulfur bacteria.

A professional well contractor can inspect your well and surrounding area to identify any potential sources of contamination, such as a nearby septic system or animal waste area.

Once the source is identified, steps can be taken to prevent future bacterial growth, such as sealing the well or adding a protective casing.

Removing Sulfur

Sulfur in well water or drinking water can cause a rotten egg smell, which can be unpleasant and make the tap water undrinkable. Who wants to drink water that tastes like rotten eggs anyway?

To address sulfur in well water, the following treatment methods can be used:

Aeration: Aeration introduces air to the hot water, which causes the sulfur to oxidize and form particles that can be filtered out.

Chlorination: Chlorine can be added to the drinking water to oxidize the sulfur and remove it from the drinking water. This method can be effective, but it can also produce byproducts that can be harmful to health.

Filtration: Specialty filters designed to remove sulfur can be used to filter the water.

It is important to work with a professional water treatment specialist to determine the best treatment method for your specific situation.

Fixing Septic System

If the septic system is the source of the problem, repairing or replacing it is often the best solution.

This may involve repairing or replacing damaged pipes, repairing or replacing the septic tank, or upgrading the system to a newer, more efficient model for your hot water.

However, just replacing the parts may not solve the issues that you are currently facing when it comes to the water smell in your hot water tank.

Regular maintenance of the septic system, such as pumping and cleaning, can help prevent backups and keep the system running smoothly. It is important to have the septic system inspected and pumped regularly by a professional to ensure that it is functioning properly.

If you’re looking to maintain the health of your septic system at all times, limiting the amount of drinking water used in the home and being mindful of what is being disposed of down the drain can also help alleviate the strain on a septic system.

This can include reducing water usage, avoiding flushing non-biodegradable items down the toilet, and avoiding pouring chemicals or harsh cleaners down the drain.

Fixing Sewer Gas Leaks

Your drinking water from the well may be leaking due to a flaw in the design of your water well.

If your well water smells like sewage smell due to inadequate well design or construction, it is important to have your well inspected by a professional and ensure that it is properly designed and constructed.

This may involve relocating the well or implementing additional measures, such as a protective casing or liner, to prevent contamination.

A professional well contractor can inspect your well and surrounding area to identify any potential sources of contamination and provide recommendations for addressing the issue.

In addition, it is important to ensure that your well is properly sealed and that the well cap is not damaged. The well should be properly constructed to prevent surface water from entering and contaminating the well water.

Overall, the key to addressing well water that smells like sewage smell is identifying the underlying cause and taking appropriate action to address the issue.

Working with a professional well contractor or water treatment specialist can help ensure that your well water is safe and clean for you and your family to use.


How often should I have my well water tested?

It is recommended to have your well water tested at least once a year for harmful bacteria and other contaminants. If you notice a change in the taste, color, or odor of your water, it is important to have it tested immediately.

Can I use bleach to disinfect my well water?

Bleach can be used to disinfect well water in some cases, but it is important to follow proper procedures and use the correct amount of bleach to ensure effective disinfection without causing harm to the well or other components of the water system. It is recommended to consult a water treatment specialist before attempting to disinfect your well water with bleach.

Is it safe to drink well water that smells like sewage?

It is generally not recommended to drink well water that has a sewage smell odor as it may contain harmful bacteria or other contaminants. It is important to have the water tested by a professional and treated appropriately to ensure its safety.

Can I fix the problem myself?

It depends on the cause of the problem. Some solutions, such as regularly maintaining the well or septic system, can be done by homeowners. However, more complex issues, such as repairing or replacing a faulty septic system, should be done by a professional.

How do I know if the odor is coming from my well or my plumbing system?

A professional well and plumbing system inspection can help determine the source of the odor. If the odor is present in both the well water and tap water, it is likely coming from the well. If the odor is only present in the tap water, it may be a plumbing issue.


In conclusion, sewage smell in well water can be a cause for concern and should be addressed promptly.

While there are a variety of reasons why well water may develop an unpleasant odor, including bacteria, iron, and sulfur, and improperly located septic systems, there are also several solutions available to address the issue.

Regular maintenance and testing of wells and septic systems, along with the use of appropriate treatment and filtration systems, can help ensure the safety and quality of well water.

It is important to work with a professional to properly diagnose the issue and determine the best course of action.

Additionally, being mindful of water usage and food waste disposal can help prevent issues from arising in the first place. With proper care and attention, well water can continue to provide a safe and reliable source of drinking water for years to come.

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