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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sulphur smell in well water  RSS feed

 
Posts: 23
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Head hung low...Last spring I set my back field on fire with my bee smoker. We hadn't had rain in over a month and the field was dry as a bone, a spark flew and engulfed the field in minutes. The fire department said they were chasing fires like mine all over the county, and it was terrifying. I've never been so scared. They were amazing and I have new appreciation for what they do and how they calmed me down. I dragged the hives out of the fire in some adrenaline-fueled frenzy. They weighed about 75#'s at that point and I'm about 135lbs, so that's the only way to explain it. A thousand bees hovered over the spot where their hives were, in the smoke, disoriented and frantic. The ones still in the hives never stung me. They stayed inside the whole time.
It's an experience I'll never forget.
What also burned was the well pump, pressure tank and aerator tank. The water smells like sulphur now, and after $3800 for a new motor and tank I can't afford to buy any expensive equipment to deal with it. I've done alot of searches but the solutions are either advertisements or too complicated for me. Does anyone have any experience with this? I sure could use some ideas here.
Thanks for listening. It's been a tough year.
 
pollinator
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Location: Anjou ,France
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Sulphur is a bit like chlorine , it's essential for life and also if you pardon the technical language potentially fucking dangerous . You say you can smell sulphur , if in like sulphur dioxide this makes the water very acid possibly contaminated with metals , if it smells of hydrogen sulphide that's like rotten eggs it's likely to be poisonous . Please don't drink this water get it tested now . I don't mean to panic you but this is a potentially dangerous situation for you . Bottled water now is better than hospital food later :-)
I hope I am wrong.

David
 
pollinator
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Leslie Russell wrote: The water smells like sulphur now, and after $3800 for a new motor and tank I can't afford to buy any expensive equipment to deal with it.



It may just be iron-sulfur bacteria build-up from lack of use.  See  https://idahowatersolutions.com/water-problems-solutions/how-to-remove-iron-sulfur-from-your-well-water/     ; for a description.  You may be able to use bleach as a first cheap-approach solution, but may have to get more drastic if not cleared up.  Good luck!
 
Posts: 45
Location: N. Idaho
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+1 on the iron sulfide bacteria!
Especially if you put a used hot water heater in.
Have the water tested, but you might find a short term answer by pumping the system (well) dry and the seeing the results after it refills, most well casings are black iron and provide plenty of materiel for bacteria to feed, a cessation of use, would give them time to multiply, and gain more than their usual level of input.
 
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Does it only smell when its hot? Like when you are showering or bathing?
 
Posts: 306
Location: Bendigo , Australia
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I have to ask, how did you start the fire with a smoker?
Why didn't you have an extinguisher near you?
These are standard steps here in Australia.
October to April is potential bushfire season and we all know, some do forget, to be aware.

We actually have total fire ban days when no naked flame or anything that can cause a spark can be used.
Angle grinder, tractor with our spark arrestors, steam trains, chainsaw etc.

Anybody that starts a fire is hang up by their thumbs in the nearest town.

Its pretty serious stuff here.
the cops even have an idea of who the pyromaniacs,[  people who deliberately start fires ] and they not only warn them they are watching but
have amazing success at catching those that do.
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 23
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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wayne fajkus wrote:Does it only smell when its hot? Like when you are showering or bathing?

It's both hot and cold. The hot water heater is relatively new, and there was an aeration tank next to the well so the previous owner must've known about the smelly water and had it installed. The water was pumped into it and whooshed around before it was drawn to the house. I've not had smelly water before, so it was doing it's job. Several people, including my friend the water quality guy for Tampa bay water treatment facility said it just needs to be aerated, that's all. I'd been drinking it for 2 years before melting the aeration tank so I guess I'll live. I'm sure I would've keeled over by now. So assuming the hwh is fine, and the trouble is indeed that it needs aeration, any easy/simple ways to accomplish that?
Other than sticking a straw in the well and blowing bubbles.
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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try adding a solar powered fish tank aerator, it may help
 
Posts: 204
Location: SW PA USA
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As John Weiland said it could be bacterial. We tore our house down to the foundation and were out of it maybe two years. When we rebuilt and got back in and turned back on the water, from a well, we got the sulphur/rotten egg smell. I had already poured clorox down the well and we discussed it with a water testing agency. When she said it could be bacterial I focused more attention on using chlorine at the well. It wound up we had to replace the hot water heater which wasn't that old. I guess we couldn't get enough chlorine into the tank or there was a void.

Is it possible that the water changed at the source? I doubt it. I think the problem's in your household water system. What else could be wrong with your system, other than bacterial problems? Another question: would the aerator decrease a prior existing bacterial problem? My guess is oxygen would have exacerbated it.

I googled "sulphur water aeration" and the aeration seems to be an accepted resolution. I guess I'd go with both fixes and not worry about which one fixed it. We used to call that the shotgun solution back in the day when we actually fixed computers.
 
Leslie Russell
Posts: 23
Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Thank you, Johns. You're both really helpful! I'm waiting for a reply from an Amazon vendor about how many feet down their pump will aerate. What a great idea! I never would've thought of the solar powered pump - I didn't even know there was such a thing.
I've been in the house this whole time, using a filter pitcher that reduces the Sulphur smell and washing etc with stinky water. I've gotten used to it but it's time i fix it. So not lack of use, and surely I would show signs of some illness by now.

What came first, the hen or the egg? Here goes:

When my well guys were here putting in the new well pump and pressure tank, they had to come back the next day because the new motor failed. They were embarrassed and not happy. They replaced it, but when it ran there was something wrong with the well itself (?). Day 3 they came back with a truck that had a boom and a cable and ran that down into the well. After that was when I got the sulphur smell in the house. I called them about it and they said it was either there all along and the aeration tank (that burned up) dealt with it (which is why it must've been there) or now that the well was disturbed it brought up the suphur. I'm really not using correct well-terminology so I hope you can interpret what I'm trying to say.
I was standing out there when they disconnected the aeration talk and all this slimey pink goo came oozing out of one of the holes. So gross! The man said "that was where your house water was coming from". When I think about it, that's a big tank, holding water until I needed it. Now, I live alone so I'm not using a huge tankfull of water but what, maybe once a week? It's sitting in there, getting whirled around or whatever, how could it be anything but a bacterial nightmare?
Those aeration tanks are a few grand and I can't afford to replace it. But even if I could, would I want to, after seeing that?
I'm out in the boonies and this land hasn't been farmed in decades. It's all gone back to natural wild Florida, woods and such. I've never been sick, either. Do those details mean anything?
So after that long-winded "but wait, there's more" explanation, I will take a look at the hot water heater tomorrow. It's outside in a shed, the way we do in central Florida.  My laundry room is outside too 😆
Further down the rabbit hole...
 
Red Smith
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Location: N. Idaho
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Aeration is an adequate answer usually. A small tank (100 gallons or so) the problem is it disrupts the pressurizing scheme with a single pump.
  At my house we use a open pitcher in the fridge to dissipate the sulpher (and minimize people sending gallons down the drain trying to get the water cold....).
A tank with a float to control the well pump and a shallow well pump to pressurize the pressure tank, a screened mini fan to ensure an air exchange across the top of the surface or a mini fountain in the aeration tank to eliminate stratification, will off gas chlorine, sulpher, hydrogen etc.
A broad flat tank is better than a tall slender one.
A large storage tank (2000 gallons) will dissipate gasses and take the frequent stop/start cycle off the pump increasing its life. The pink goo, is (probably) sand/mud rust that falls out of suspension in a holding tank.
FWIW look up a homemade sand filter, it will aerate and purify water down to a remarkably fine level.... Microbe free is not necessarily a desired goal. and chlorine kills a vast quantity of usefull organisms.
 
wayne fajkus
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I had a whole house filter in my system. One of those small ones that has a filter maybe 8 to 10" tall and a tube in the middle of the filter.

I would drop a 1" pool chlorine tablet into the tube of the filter and it would resolve the problem for a week.

 
Posts: 87
Location: The Ocala National Forest. Florida, USA
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chicken forest garden goat
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I grew up in central Florida and when I was young there were a few artesian (sp?) wells around on highway right of ways that poured forth sulfer water and would have people lined up with jugs to get their sulfer water.... Old timers claimed it'd cure what ailed ya... But if you were unfortunate enough to have to live with it in your house... The kids at school would tease ya for smelling of rotten eggs....
 
Leslie Russell
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Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Thanks, Annie - that's too funny. To think I've gone out of my way in years past to visit Sulphur springs...hey! Don't we have a Sulphur Springs somewhere around here? LOL
I get revved up about attacking the problem, then get intimidated, and quit. The leads I've gotten here have led me on interesting research and some of the equipment is too expensive for me. I can't for the life of me figure out how to set up an aeration tank which is what I really think is the best option. I have a friend in the "water business" who said he'll take a look. He works at Tampa water facility somethingorother...I have hope. My Mom's silverplate is black. Everything with any silver at all is black. And then, there's that smell. I don't *think* I smell. No one's mentioned it.
 
Annie Lochte
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Location: The Ocala National Forest. Florida, USA
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I hear ya!! Hope your friend can shed some light on a relatively inexpensive solution... I have similar problem as there's so much iron in my well water everything that I use it for is rust colored... I fill jugs elsewhere for drinking water an just deal with it as Im not keen on a water softener and not real educated on filters... Nor do I have assets to fund such. I do have a couple simple filters on the line coming in the house and washing machine... But everything still turns orange. I try to buy clothes in the rust color spectrum!!!
 
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Without the aerator, peroxide injector, reverse osmosis or other form of equipment to remove the sulfur smell you'll most likely have to live with it.  Few, if any whole house filters will remove it reliably, or for very long.  We have sulfur water here where we live.  Its not too bad, but don't like drinking it at all.  What we have done is buy a Berkey water filter with the black filter elements.  That water tastes better than any bottled water I've had. We use the Berkey water for all drinking type uses.  You can also try this trick.  Fill a pitcher with water out of the tap.  Leave it sit all night.  The sulfur should dissipate over night. You can also heat a pot of water up on the stove and the sulfur should dissipate.  Cant help much with the non drinking water short of getting another aerator etc for the whole system.   One other trick you can try, but I doubt it will work for long since the previous owner had installed the aerator, but you can "shock" the well with plain Clorox.  It basically involves figuring the total volume of water in the well, adding clorox to the well to bring the PPM of clorox up to about 200ppm and letting it sit overnight and then flushing it out of the lines.  I tried it here, and it worked for about 24 hours then the sulfur smell was back.  Just our water....  Google "chlorine shocking a well" for more info on it. 
 
Walt Chase
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Annie Lochte wrote:I hear ya!! Hope your friend can shed some light on a relatively inexpensive solution... I have similar problem as there's so much iron in my well water everything that I use it for is rust colored... I fill jugs elsewhere for drinking water an just deal with it as Im not keen on a water softener and not real educated on filters... Nor do I have assets to fund such. I do have a couple simple filters on the line coming in the house and washing machine... But everything still turns orange. I try to buy clothes in the rust color spectrum!!!



In my experience, a water softener system using the rust remover pellets is about the only way to come close to removing, or at least reducing the high iron in water.  We have the same trouble with clothes turning an orangie color over time.  Whites are about completely out of the question.  I wear white undershirts once or twice a week in the cooler seasons.  The only way I've found to keep them white is to add Lysol toilet bowl cleaner (the blue stuff, I think the active ingredient is phosphoric acid) to the washing machine water.  The Lysol will also help keep your porcelain toilet fixtures from getting too orange.
 
Leslie Russell
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Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Walt Chase wrote:

Annie Lochte wrote:I hear ya!! Hope your friend can shed some light on a relatively inexpensive solution... I have similar problem as there's so much iron in my well water everything that I use it for is rust colored... I fill jugs elsewhere for drinking water an just deal with it as Im not keen on a water softener and not real educated on filters... Nor do I have assets to fund such. I do have a couple simple filters on the line coming in the house and washing machine... But everything still turns orange. I try to buy clothes in the rust color spectrum!!!



In my experience, a water softener system using the rust remover pellets is about the only way to come close to removing, or at least reducing the high iron in water.  We have the same trouble with clothes turning an orangie color over time.  Whites are about completely out of the question.  I wear white undershirts once or twice a week in the cooler seasons.  The only way I've found to keep them white is to add Lysol toilet bowl cleaner (the blue stuff, I think the active ingredient is phosphoric acid) to the washing machine water.  The Lysol will also help keep your porcelain toilet fixtures from getting too orange.


I found "the works" toilet bowl cleaner at the dollar tree. Gets the mineral deposits off the bowl and even the shower. Never thought to try it on my clothes 😀 but I just started diy laundry detergent. If i fall upon a good formula for getting out iron staining I'll put it up here.
Follow up on the friend's advice: The simplest effective inexpensive solution may be to open the existing aeration tank, install pvc with a row of holes drilled over the tank with the holes at the bottom. Pipe the water from the well through the pvc where the holes will allow the water some "free air" before falling into the tank below then to the house. Keep it covered from the elements and creatures, of course.
Sound possible? Before I do it?
 
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You can do a simple test first to see if aeration removes the chemical odor/taste.  Just put some water in a bottle, shake it up, open the cap and vent it.  Do that 3 or 4 times.  If the odor/taste goes away , then it is likely hydrogen sulfide gas (H2S). 
 
Red Smith
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A simple low cost aerator can be made with a length of pvc and a vibratory fish tank air pump.
Google "air lift pump"
For pennies a day it will lift and roll the water in a vessel round the clock.
 
pollinator
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Would love updates, and any other ideas for water sourcing for someone not really a permaculturist but faced with this problem...in coastal North Carolina, right near the sound.  I sent her this thread

Personally I would go for catching rain off the roof and holding that in a tower up high and then using that for showers and laundry, filtering some for drinking through a berkey...but that's gotta be less expensive than the competing solution, and she still wants the water heated.  Step by step.  Any thoughts? Thanks!
 
Leslie Russell
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Location: Hot, humid, sometimes hurricane drenched west central Florida
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Joshua Myrvaagnes wrote:Would love updates, and any other ideas for water sourcing for someone not really a permaculturist but faced with this problem...in coastal North Carolina, right near the sound.  I sent her this thread. 

Personally I would go for catching rain off the roof and holding that in a tower up high and then using that for showers and laundry, filtering some for drinking through a berkey...but that's gotta be less expensive than the competing solution, and she still wants the water heated.  Step by step.  Any thoughts? Thanks!


For drinking water I'm leaving a few pitchers out and the sulfur smell dissipates. The water tastes fine and doesn't smell like rotten eggs. The aeration tank is still in the back by the well and other than some damage to the exterior looks to still be usable, although it would needed a serious cleaning. Not sure what that would involve yet and might not be possible. The relay on the side is burned and needs to be replaced. But I'm going to give it a better assessment before I do anything. On the off chance it's useable I can then try to implement some of the aeration suggestions above.
Seems to be aeration is the way to go if it's just the smell.
 
John C Daley
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Location: Bendigo , Australia
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This is an interesting continuing topic.
In Australia we catch rain water and don't have the sediment or sulphur smell issues.
We don't have any issues as I have spoken about earlier.
As for the sediment in the aeration tank, I think you mentioned the whole system was new, that may explain all the sediment since I am sure once things are bedded down, excessive sediment may not appear again, or at least until you disturb the spearpoint in the well bottom.
Cleaning your tank may be as simple as fitting a separate valve at the bottom and draining it out, perhaps washing the last remnants out as well.
Keep me posted please.
 
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