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Dealing with sulfur water

Post in 'DIY and General non-hearth advice' started by sunglider, Nov 27, 2012.

  1. sunglider

    sunglider Member

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    Also high iron content. The sulfur smell is pretty obnoxious now that its cold and windows are closed. I've researched various methods of dealing with this - chlorine, sodium and greensand systems among others - but the one that makes the most sense to me is hydrogen peroxide. Seems effective with the least chemical effect on the environment.

    Every water treatment business like Culligan tries to sell their own preferred system so its hard to get unbiased information.

    Has anyone here successfully dealt with sulfur in particular? How?

    Thanks

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  2. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Two things.

    One, if you have the sulfur smell in the house, you will have corrosion on critical systems. It will eat air conditioners and heat pumps, plumbing components that sweat, and anything else metal that doesn't have a bone dry surface. The odor is usually hydrogen sulfide gas, which dissolves in contact with moisture and forms a weak sulphuric acid. It cost me an air conditioner when I lived in Florida. It pinholes them. So you have to get rid of the odor or pay the price.

    Two, also in Florida, the most effective way to get rid of the odor is by aeration. The aerator tanks usually sit outside. That probably isn't an option in your area, though.

    I don't know if this info will be helpful to you, but hopefully at least some of it will be useful.
  3. bioman

    bioman Burning Hunk

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    Hydrogen peroxide system makes sense to me. we are going to try it next. if that does not work I will have another well drilled !
  4. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    This may apply here...since you mentioned iron, there is an iron loving bacteria that creates SO2 (sulfur dioxide..it smells) especially in a hot water heater.
    The iron is dissolved in the water from the well. It precipitates into a solid when exposed to enough oxygen. Thus, as White Pine said, the aeration device can solidify the Fe and then the greensand filter can remove it.
    Is it worse on the hot water? Mine is.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I've been getting some hydrogen sulfide smell along with our normal iron staining. I don't know if it's hydrogen sulfide or sulfur dioxide but it is not any worse in the hot water.

    Step one is to test the water to determine how much of each bad thing you have to deal with. Then determine the technology.

    I was under the impression that greensand is more than a filter, the greensand will cause the solid to form as well as filter it so you would eliminate the aerator. Ideally we could chlorinate but that's tough to do in a residential system.
  6. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    This is exactly the issue I had when I purchased a home on well/septic several years back. What has worked 99% for me is a charcoal whole house filter. I went with a very affordable GE filter unit you can buy at most big box stores. I replace the $30 filter every six months and I rarely have the smell anymore. These days we'll only get the smell if we leave the house for several days with zero water movement in the hot water tank...

    This is the system I have:

    http://www.homedepot.com/buy/ge-1-in-high-flow-opaq-wh-system-gxwh35f.html

    This is the filter I use:

    http://www.amazon.com/GE-FXHTC-SmartWater-Replacement-Cartridge/dp/B0025YUF68
  7. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    Highbeam, you may be right about the greensand, I'd have to read up on that. And, our neighbor does run a chlorinator with good results. I prefer to avoid if possible, and our water is not as bad as the OP sounds like.
    (For the benefit of other readers): The chlorine also precipitates the iron. My neighbor tested this by filling the kid's wading pool and then adding pool chlorine. The next day the bottom was a layer of rust. Of course, the chlorine also kills bacteria too.
  8. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    This is good info. Where did you place the filter? After the softener?
  9. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    The home depot style filter head is just the head. You then buy whatever filter you want. This is a standard filter size and you can buy sediment filters in various posre sizes, and also the carbon filter. I would expect the carbon filter to be the very last filter before going to the taps.
  10. DianeB

    DianeB Feeling the Heat

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    You may need to change something in your water heater - called the anode. Check out this link. We changed ours and it improved things by 95%. When the smell comes bac, we will do an anode change again. Some water heaters do not come with changeable anodes, and have permanent ones. Once corroded, you can not change them out. You may have to buy a new water heater that allows you to change out the anode (called a sacrificial anode)
    http://www.annarbor.com/home-garden/sulfur-smell-in-my-water/
  11. sunglider

    sunglider Member

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    My cold water is just as bad as the hot so I know its not just a problem with the hot water heater. I will have to have the water tested and then get recommendations from all the local water treatment companies.

    As I understand it, the greensand system is highly poisonous. Chlorine is no picnic either.
  12. Bad Wolf

    Bad Wolf Minister of Fire

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  13. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    It seems that aeration then filtration may be a good solution then.
  14. stee6043

    stee6043 Minister of Fire

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    I installed mine before my water softener assuming I could potentially extend the life of the softener by keeping some of the junk out.
  15. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Problem is that you need to break head to aerate and then repressurize. Lot's of wasted energy and hassle.
  16. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Agreed. If the OP had a hill to put the aeration tank on he might be able to negate the losses somewhat but getting power for the blower there might be a problem.
  17. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    I'm not 100% sure, but I believe there are systems that keep the pressure on with air injection. This one looks like just another tank in the basement:
    http://www.purewaterproducts.com/aermax.htm
    Looks like a pretty good site to read anyway regarding these problems.
  18. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    When was the last time you chlorinated your well?
  19. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I was reading for hours at the link that Greg H posted and some aerators, though expensive, do aerate under pressure.

    Great site BTW.
  20. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    It seems like the energy requirements might be similar though since you'd have to compress air for injection?
  21. ironpony

    ironpony Minister of Fire

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    I had great success doing a thorough chlorination. my second thought if it comes back is to drop a line into the well and aerate the water in the well.
  22. gfreek

    gfreek Minister of Fire

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    I dump chlorine in my well. Put my carbon filter and softener on by pass, flush the lines with chlorinated water back into the well, let it sit for 8 hours, flush the lines again, put filters in regular mode and that does it for afew months. This summer with the low water table I did it twice and not since..I have a chlorination system but the holding tank leaks so I bypass that for now...till I replace the whole system.......
  23. ansehnlich1

    ansehnlich1 Minister of Fire

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    I had a sulfur smell in a home years ago. I traced it to the charcoal filter :eek: Yep, it was actually the depleted charcoal filters that were causing the odor, smelled just like sulfur. I removed the charcoal filter and housing and the odor disappeared.....go figure.
  24. TradEddie

    TradEddie Minister of Fire

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    Do you have any water treatment system installed now? We assume that you have well water, is that correct? If well water, then get it tested by an independent lab, not a store trying to sell you a treatment system (although some stores will do a free analysis without committing you to buying their system). Take that sample as close to your well as possible, before any treatment system. You need to know if the smell is coming from the well, or being formed in your piping, you may be able to figure this out yourself by smelling samples from different places in your water system (start at the location closest to your well). Are you completely sure the smell is also in the cold water (residual smell may be coming from the mixer faucet) , is it also present in outdoor cold water faucets?
    Filtering to remove the smell may be necessary, but treating the cause will be better in the long run if possible.

    TE

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