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  1. #1
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    My daughter & son-in-law are very interested in a home. Their offer was trumped, but the prospective buyers backed out due to an inspection report item of a sulphur oder in the well water. Is this indicative of anything in particular ? Anybody heard of this sulphur oder thing ?

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  2. #2
    Darrel Hood's Avatar
    Darrel Hood Guest

    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    The mention of a sulphur odor in the water raises more questions than it answers. However, none of the common sources are major issues unless the odor is almost overpowering.


  3. #3

    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    The sulfer smell is H2S which is naturally occuring in most deep water wells. In low concentrations it can smell like egg smelling water. But in other concentration ranges it may smell more like sulfer I would recommend that you have ahj test to determine potability.

    George Hallaron: Owner primary inspector
    Bienvenue Home Inspections LLC
    www.bienvenuehomeinspections.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    While some people may think that sulphor in the water is a good thing, I have inspected many homes that the rotten egg smell was so bad I could hardly stand to stay inside the house.
    I would say to Google it and get more information..


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    While house-hunting before we bought the place we're presently in, we encountered a nice house in a rural, "woodsy" subdivision that had the same issue. The smell when running any water faucet in the house was very strong, and explained why the owners had a large bottled water holder/dispenser in the kitchen (obviously for drinking and cooking purposes). The owners had 2 separate filters in the garage next to the pressure tank (1 before, 1 after), but they obviously weren't very effective. The neighbor raking leaves across the street confirmed that the odor was hydrogen sulfide, saying it was a small price to pay for living in such a beautiful area, and just something that everyone living out there got used to.

    Not for me, thank you.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    I've lived on well water all my life and that odor is not uncommon. The well can be chlorinated and water conditioning equipment installed. That second part involves a little bit of $$.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Right. Filters need to be maintained, cleaned and recharged. Take a sample of the stinky water and have it tested, $50 or thereabouts. Then install the appropriate filters and enjoy having a private source of water.

    The mineral content can stain tubs and sinks and sometimes cause corrosion, but it is all relative to the concentrations you are dealing with.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    A lot depends on the type of subsurface mineral content regardless of depth of well. Well water can contain sulphate reducing bacteria which can become apparent in hot water tanks as the bacteria is anaerobic which thrives in non oxygen environs.

    Manganese and iron content could likely be present as well.

    Odors can also result from reaction with hot water tank anode rod, aluminum rod.

    Not all filtration will remove sulphur odor, and again specialized treatment systems will likely be required.

    I believe hydrogen sulphide gass can be explosive.


    The well may also require cleaning and checked for fouling iron.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Sulphur smell in well water is very common. Contact a water treatment company to take care of the issue.

    Matt Kiefer, Columbus Advanced Inspections
    Home Inspection Columbus Ohio
    Radon Testing Columbus Ohio

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Or easier (and better yet), just pass on the property and keep looking. It's still a buyer's market out there.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Ran into this issue some years ago in an unoccupied home with a well.
    The odor was overpowering.
    The hydrogen sulfide can be the result of iron bacteria that frequently multiply in wells that have been unused for a period of time.
    The solution at the time was shocking the well and thoroughly flushing the system.

    "the relentless pursuit of perfection"

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Had the house been sitting empty for a while?

    In my experience it is not uncommon for well water to have an odor or color in a well that has been inactive for a period of time. In many cases the color or odor will disappear after running the well for a few days, up to a couple of weeks.

    I have a secondary well used for irrigation (not used in winter) that stinks every spring when I first start running it, but cleans up after running it for a day or two.

    However, we always recommend a water potability test (for bacteria) as a minimum for any home purchase that has a well (empty or occupied). If a house has a well, it probably also has a septic system. There is always some possibility that bacteria from a leaking septic system is contaminating the water supply. If a water cistern or storage tank is is installed due to low water volume, than airborne bacteria can easily get into the water supply.

    Water bottles for sampling are typically available at your local county sanitarian. Additional water tests for nitrates/nitrites, are are often required by some banks and HUD loans (as a check for leaking septics). Test for magnesium, iron, sulfates, arsenic, etc also makes some sense depending on the quality of water in your region. Culligan will often offer a free water test in hopes they can sell you a water softener or other treatment device (we tend to have a lot of iron, and small amounts of naturally occurring arsenic can be found in a couple of areas).


  13. #13
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Joseph is very correct. And shock treating a well is one of the easiest and cheapest real estate fixes.


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Shocking involves pouring bleach into the well to kill the bacteria. It will not eliminate a problem of excessive mineral deposits, or contamination from septic fields or farming. For that, you need filtering, or sometimes in extreme cases, a new well in another location.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    There are certain realestate agents in my area who will chlorinate the well and flush it through the taps until the odour is gone and then draw the sample!

    I know other agents who will take a sample without bypassing filters and UV systems!

    Clients need to know if the well is contaminated. Taking samples which have been treated is misleading the purchasers and negligent misrepresentation by so called professionals.

    I always tell my clients to take samples drawn without any filtration or UV system on.

    A new well can cost upwards of $35+/foot.

    What good is a well if its polluted? (rhetorical question)


  16. #16
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    There are certain realestate agents in my area who will chlorinate the well and flush it through the taps until the odour is gone and then draw the sample!

    I know other agents who will take a sample without bypassing filters and UV systems!

    Clients need to know if the well is contaminated. Taking samples which have been treated is misleading the purchasers and negligent misrepresentation by so called professionals.

    I always tell my clients to take samples drawn without any filtration or UV system on.

    A new well can cost upwards of $35+/foot.

    What good is a well if its polluted? (rhetorical question)
    Interesting stuff Ray, ( mond ? ). Seems like some of the Realtors you mention are putting their necks on a block. I am curious about taking samples and the offer / acceptance process. With the tight time constraints usually in play can one get lab results quick enough to keep the deal alive ? Technically once there is acceptance, ( a level of acceptance ), the property is off the market and I would not blame a seller for not wanting to wait for some lab results.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Here are two typical clauses inserted into the purchase agreement in Ontario.

    This Offer is conditional upon the Buyer determining, at the Buyer's own expense, that: (1) there is an adequate and potable water supply to meet the Buyer's household needs; (2) the pump and all related equipment serving the property are in proper operating condition; and (3) the Buyer can obtain a Certificate of Potability from the authority having jurisdiction indicating that the water is safe for human consumption. Unless the Buyer gives notice in writing delivered to the Seller not later than _____ p.m. on the _______ day of ___________, 20____ that these conditions have been fulfilled, this Offer shall become null and void and the deposit shall be returned to the Buyer in full without deduction. These conditions are included for the benefit of the Buyer and may be waived at the Buyer's sole option by notice in writing to the Seller within the time period stated herein. The Seller agrees to allow access to the subject property to the Buyer or the Buyer's agent for the purpose of satisfying this condition.


    The Seller represents and warrants, to the best of the Seller's knowledge and belief, that, during the Seller's occupancy of the property, the pump and all related equipment serving the said property have performed adequately, and will be in good working order on closing and are currently capable of delivering not less than ___ gallons per minute (GPM) on the continuous basis of not less than ____ hours. The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but apply only to the state of the property at completion of this transaction.

    Again only my experience, but I have warned clients about the state of the well head due to my knowledge about the builder, and forewarned the clients to have the well inspected prior to close of title for proper construction. In two cases the clients did not heed my advice and post closing the Ministry of Environment condemned the wells and the purchasers ended up having to pay for new wells. $$$.



  18. #18
    Jeff Draper's Avatar
    Jeff Draper Guest

    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    I had the same problem and bought a Culligan system that injected a chlorine mixture into the holding tank to get rid of the smell. That system was a pain in the butt. I now have a system that injects hydrogen peroxide directly into the incoming water and it remains odor free. I'm very happy with this system. I got it from a company called Ecowater.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    I also had the same system and removed it too.

    Would you happen to know the strength of the peroxide, 3% or 6% solution, and if it is food grade?

    Thanks


  20. #20
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Here are two typical clauses inserted into the purchase agreement in Ontario.

    This Offer is conditional upon the Buyer determining, at the Buyer's own expense, that: (1) there is an adequate and potable water supply to meet the Buyer's household needs; (2) the pump and all related equipment serving the property are in proper operating condition; and (3) the Buyer can obtain a Certificate of Potability from the authority having jurisdiction indicating that the water is safe for human consumption. Unless the Buyer gives notice in writing delivered to the Seller not later than _____ p.m. on the _______ day of ___________, 20____ that these conditions have been fulfilled, this Offer shall become null and void and the deposit shall be returned to the Buyer in full without deduction. These conditions are included for the benefit of the Buyer and may be waived at the Buyer's sole option by notice in writing to the Seller within the time period stated herein. The Seller agrees to allow access to the subject property to the Buyer or the Buyer's agent for the purpose of satisfying this condition.


    The Seller represents and warrants, to the best of the Seller's knowledge and belief, that, during the Seller's occupancy of the property, the pump and all related equipment serving the said property have performed adequately, and will be in good working order on closing and are currently capable of delivering not less than ___ gallons per minute (GPM) on the continuous basis of not less than ____ hours. The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but apply only to the state of the property at completion of this transaction.
    Who-da-thought I would be learning so much from my kids home search. The first clause makes sense. I have a well. It's performed fine for eight years and great water, ( albeit too acidic and copper pipes do not like it so much ), but could not sign the second clause because I have no clue what the GPM output is nor would I care to gaurantee that output for "X" hours. That clause would just have to be messasaged a bit.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Very common up here in Ontario to have a well flow test completed and the technician must be licenced to conduct the test.

    Mortgage companies like to see a minimum 3 gallon per minute (gpm).


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    I run into wells quite often and always suggest having the well sampled.

    Getting an anaerobic bacteria test, a coliform test, organics test seems like cheap insurance to me. Also periodic testing is a good idea things can change.

    Like what is stated the sulfur can be from a bacteria or naturally occurring.

    Here is some info for some fun reading.

    http://www.cdphe.state.co.us/lr/page...urBacteria.pdf

    Sulfate in Drinking Water | Unregulated | US EPA

    I give my clients a few links so they can learn more about wells here one-

    www.wellowner.org

    Don Hester
    NCW Home Inspections, LLC
    Wa. St. Licensed H I #647, WSDA #80050, http://www.ncwhomeinspections.com

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    I had this problem in my mother-in-law apartment. The main house and the apartment are on the same well but the apartment developed a horrible rotten egg smell. My well pulls a fine silt up so I have both the house and apartment on whole house filters.
    I filled the filter canister with bleach and then slowly turned the water on pushing the bleach slowly and systematically throughout the apartment plumbing.

    Problem solved. That was over a year ago.

    I have never seen the rotten egg smell come directly from the well but I am sure it can happen. I have had basic coliform and ecoli tests done on many wells over the years. Several have had contamination and shocking has worked every time to fix them.


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Puts Seller on the hook for the next for ever. Good and bad.

    "....The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but apply only to the state of the property at completion of this transaction."

    Lon,Guess you did not have a Mother In-law in the apartment else you would not have tried to fix. Water odor covered the Mother In-law odor.



  25. #25
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Puts Seller on the hook for eternity. Good and bad.

    "....The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but apply only to the state of the property at completion of this transaction."

    Lon,Guess you did not have a Mother In-law in the apartment else you would not have tried to fix. Water odor covered the Mother In-law odor.



  26. #26
    Garry Blankenship's Avatar
    Garry Blankenship Guest

    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    "The Parties agree that this representation and warranty shall survive and not merge on completion of this transaction, but apply only to the state of the property at completion of this transaction."

    Garry; I had to read that several times and still feel like lookin over my shoulder. A slippery bit of Law Smithing that seems a bit onerous & one sided to me. OK for the buyer; not so cool for the seller, I'm thinkin. Couldn't help but notice your first name there. The spelling, the way it flows off the tounge and the magnetic attraction like quality it carries. You must be very pleased w/ it.


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Sulphur Oder in Well Water ?

    Garry B.,
    Hoping that others would read over that part to see that it may be interpenetrated. Many times people take disclosure statements as just so much common boilerplate in contracts and do not think about what is being agreed to. Then do not realize they can negotiate the wording. Agents just want people to sign and move on, without explanation of the ramifications of the agreement.

    Personally, having lived on a well most of my life, I would never attest to anything about the well other than it's location. A well is a function of nature and as such can and will change. What affect a well is mostly out of the control of the owner.


    As for my name and it's origin the explanation is a little convoluted. Not often finding the two R version. Thought some time back to say something to you but let it pass. Call me anything just don't call me late for dinner. The double R makes us a little softer than those other Garys out there.


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