Why Does My Well Water Stink?

Well water sometimes emits unpleasant odors.
Well water sometimes emits unpleasant odors. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Since well water comes from natural sources, it is subject to infusion or contamination from elements in the ground, as well as those that may form in the pumping system. These components frequently infuse the water with unpleasant odors.

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Rotten Egg Smell

Water that smells or tastes like rotten eggs is a common complaint from well-water drinkers. It comes from hydrogen sulfide gas or sulfur bacteria that is a natural part of the groundwater or forms in the water pipes, well or water heater tank. It is normally not harmful but is occasionally the result of pollution.

Other Common Odors

Chlorine smells are most common in municipal water systems that use the additive for sanitation. The odor quickly dissipates into the air or can be eliminated by charcoal water filtering systems. Musty or moldy water smells may be due to chloride, sweet smells frequently come from a high m-xylene content and styrene is often the source of chemical odors that resemble airplane glue. Green, plant-like smells may be caused by grass or algae growth in the well.


Having the water professionally tested will determine the cause of the smells and most testing facilities offer solutions to eradicate them.


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