One of the most common well water complaints is water that smells like rotten eggs and/or has a yellowish coloration. Both of these issues stem from the presence of hydrogen sulfide gas in your well water. While nontoxic in most cases, hydrogen sulfide can make drinking, cooking, and bathing highly unappealing activities.
Fortunately, numerous methods exist for dealing with hydrogen sulfide in well water. However, many homeowners struggle to select the system best suited for their problem. If your water has recently taken on an unpleasant rotten odor, keep reading. This article outlines two chemical methods of eliminating problems caused by hydrogen sulfide.
Hydrogen sulfide may have one of two causes. First, it may be naturally occurring in wells drilled in certain regions. Second, it may stem from the presence of otherwise harmless anaerobic bacteria that have taken up residence in your well. The former case requires ongoing efforts to remove the hydrogen sulfide, while the latter case can usually be resolved with a single shock treatment.
Chlorine makes a powerful weapon in either case. If the suspected problem involves bacteria, administering a high dose of laundry bleach to the water can often kill off the unwanted bacteria. Of course, the amount of bleach must be carefully controlled. Too little may prove ineffective, while too much can negatively impact the quality of your water.
If the cause involves naturally occurring hydrogen sulfide, or if the bacteria prove especially difficult to kill off, you may need to install the secondary appliance known as a chlorinator. A chlorinator attaches to the water line coming from well head to your main pressure tank. There it treats all of the incoming water with bleach.
The chlorine in the bleach not only kills off any bacteria, but it also reacts with the hydrogen sulfide, causing it to precipitate as a harmless solid that collects at the bottom of the chlorinator. In addition, many chlorinators include carbon filters that remove any lingering chlorine from the water, ensuring pristine water inside of your home.
2. Hydrogen Peroxide
Chlorine-based systems have one key weakness, in that their effectiveness hinges on the pH of the water. Chlorine delivers the best results in slight acidic water supplies - those with a pH between 5 and 7. As pH levels climb above 7, however, chlorine becomes less and less effective. At such pH levels, the amounts of chlorine required to eliminate hydrogen sulfide simply wouldn't be safe.
A more effective alternative comes in the form of hydrogen peroxide. Like chlorine, hydrogen peroxide eliminates hydrogen sulfide through the process of oxidation. Hydrogen peroxide also removes odors, destroys problematic bacteria, and oxidizes the tannins responsible for discoloring the water.
Yet hydrogen peroxide possesses certain strengths all its own. Most importantly, hydrogen peroxide delivers effective results across a much wider pH range. In addition, hydrogen peroxide does not leave any chemical byproducts behind in the water, meaning you won't have to worry about the off-taste caused by chlorine.
While hydrogen peroxide can hypothetically be used for one-time shock treatment, a more common approach involves installing a hydrogen peroxide system to your well lines. This system delivers regular bursts of hydrogen peroxide to the water entering your pressure tank. A carbon filter installed on the back end of the tank then removes any precipitates formed by the oxidation process.
Yellow water and rotten egg smells virtually always stem from the presence of hydrogen sulfide. To learn more about the best treatment option for your particular well system, please contact the home water experts at Billy Bell Plumbing. We can help you maintain a healthy water supply.