Welcome back to another Gordon Water Wisdom, a special series of The Richard Piet Show, we’re focused on your drinking water and the water in your home and how to make it cleaner and safer. Tom Duisterhof is with Gordon Water Systems and is helping us with the understanding of these subjects. Welcome back, Tom.
Well, thank you.
Today, we’re talking about smelly water and really, there are ways to get rid of smelly water. We’re going to talk about that and what some of the overall causes of this kind of water is, but you can see how this component of water might put you off. You know, it doesn’t smell good. That means it might not feel good or taste good to you, right?
You know, quality water is quality of life. We’ve had customers that have a beautiful home, newer. I can picture one right now that was on a golf course and a fabulous house, and it was the last house they were ever going to build. They could not stand living there because of the aroma coming out of the shower and the kitchen faucet and everything. So quality water does make quality of life, and odor is one of those things that you know it gets your attention every time you turn the faucet on.
It reminds me of a story from my childhood, my aunt or, as they say, out east my aunt, lives in Woodstock, New York. And when I was a kid, we would go visit and they had a lot of sulfur in their water. So you got that rotten egg smell. And let me tell you, rotten egg taste. Everything they made with water, orange juice, iced tea, everything had that rotten egg taste, and it was tough for a little kid with a sensitive palate.
Yeah, yeah, and it’s tough for adults too.
Now, these days you go there, don’t even smell it, don’t even taste it. They’ve figured it out. And I think they’re doing exactly what you’re talking about. They figured out the right way to take care of that, and that’s the focus of this. But can you imagine the example that you cited? Someone goes puts forth all this money and effort to have a beautiful home and then can’t live there because of the water?
That’s incredible. Yeah, and the sources of aroma, there’s a couple of different avenues. One of the very most common can be what’s called the anode rod in the water heater, and the anode rod is in a water heater to protect the lining of the water heater itself, as well as, quite frankly, the rest of the house, the fixtures and the plumbing and water using appliances. And the reason I say that is Mother Earth ground is slightly different than the ground inside the home. And that difference in electrical potential can cause electrolysis or corrosion can have an impact on it. And some of it depends on water chemistry, that’s for sure and somewhat depends on the ability to have a good ground electrically between the house and Earth. We’ve had customers with 20-year-old water heaters that suddenly the anode rod just dissolves on them and it gives off a rotten egg smell. We’ve had customers with a brand new house or a brand new water heater, literally weeks old, and the same thing happens. And so it’s hard to predict, but there are ways to fix it. And first of all, to assess it, we have customers that will call up and say, my water smells awful, it smells a bit like rotten eggs. And we say, is it on the cold and the hot or just the hot? And then we advise them, run the cold water first and smell that let it run for a minute and smell it, and then shut it off. If there’s any smell or not on the cold side, we don’t want to taint it with smell if it’s the hot only.
So you start with cold first, and if there’s anything on the hot side, then you wait a second, you turn on the hot water and you let it run just briefly and then you wave your hand. You know you’re trying it. Some people can smell it because it’s so awful, you smell it instantly. Others, you’ve got to wait a minute and let the air move around the sink in the area. But if it’s the hot side only, then it’s the anode rod. Some people are do it yourselfers. They’ll either remove the anode rod completely, which can void the warranty if you have a warranty on your water heater. And it also leaves your house unprotected as well. Other people will replace it on their own. We recommend if it goes once and you can do it, either put it in an aluminum anode rod or you can have a plumber do it. We have a product that’s actually a titanium one. that the couple that built their last house on a golf course, we put the titanium in and they were like, this is fabulous. We can’t tell you how wonderful it is to be able to take a shower and be able to run the kitchen faucet and live in the house. And so the titanium one is one of those, never say never, but I don’t expect it’s ever going to, you know, corrode and fall apart and give off, it physically can’t. The anode rod that is used in water heaters is made of a magnesium product, and when it degrades it, it gives off the rotten egg smell.
So that’s one of them that’s not really water chemistry based. It’s not coming from your well, it’s really just due to the anode rod in the water heater, but it is one of the most common.
The other big one as you described with your, I think aunt and uncle up in Woodstock, New York, hydrogen sulfide gas can be in water underground, and it’s under pressure because it’s deep underground. When we bring it up through our wells, the minute it bursts into the atmosphere, meaning your faucet or the hose or the showerhead or something, it suddenly is now coming out of solution and is giving you that wonderful sensation in your sense of smell that you’ve got that rotten egg smell, and that can be as dainty as I think it’s there to occasionally, we run into homes, not very often other parts of the state and country, you can almost smell it when you walk up to the front door. You know, when it’s that bad, we have equipment that’s designated specifically for the rotten egg smell, and everything in between, we’ve got equipment to help that too. And a lot of times the equipment that will help reduce that odor, if you have a little bit of iron rust, that same equipment will reduce iron and odor at the same time. So it’s a nice benefit.
All right. Well, that makes a lot of sense. They were somewhere in between the two situations you described, hardly smell it at all and smell it at the front door. Certainly, when the water came on, you smelled it. Yeah.
So there are some other things too, right, that might cause odor in water?
Well, there is, and it usually comes when you’re around wetlands, rivers or streams or lakes. You can turn on the water and it almost smells like the lake water. It might even taste like the lake water, and it doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad for you because by the time that water percolates through the ground, if it’s very sandy, as is, many times those areas can be, things are filtered and Mother Nature does a pretty good job. It’s not an issue of bacteria. It’s just you’re now smelling and drinking what was in the lake, what percolates through the ground, the wet and the stream, whatever it might be. So you just have that maybe metallic, maybe a little bit of organics, all of that. So just wanted to touch base on that. That is addressed, quite frankly, with a pretty simple carbon filter, taste and odor type carbon filter. So that one’s actually the easiest of all of them to address, obviously water softener and iron filter if you need it. But a good drinking water filter, either for the whole house or just for drinking water, will address those type of natural odors.
Just like we talked about in the prior episodes, all of this requires investigation, right? You need to evaluate what might be causing the situation with smelly water, it could be any one of these things and then react appropriately.
Yeah. And that’s, you know, people say, well, can you give me an estimate over the phone. Our gut after being in business nearly 50 years, we’ve developed enough experience to say, you know, we really can’t. We want to do right by you and we want to support the equipment we recommend. So we like to be in the home or the cottage and run the water, smell the water. Take a look at the surroundings. See what we’ve got and make the best recommendation we can for a family.
That could be any number of things that you talked about. From one simple fix to something that might be more complicated or at least more involved, and you can then have all the information you need to give the right answer.
Yeah. And with our 90 day performance guarantee, we have to be in the home to be able to test the water and check out things to make a proper recommendation and stand behind that performance guarantee.
Mm hmm. So with the folks on the golf course and other customers with whom you’ve dealt that have had smelly water, what should be their expectation after they’ve had you identify the problem and the solution and execute the plan? They should smell nothing from the water?
Ideally, that’s the case. Water chemistry can be a little quirky, and same thing is true with iron and color, or maybe tannin. We can greatly reduce something down to the point where it’s negligible or maybe not noticeable. But Mother Nature can vary a little bit, and odor and color with that chemistry variation, whether it’s seasonal or due to a dry spell or a wet season, things can change a little bit and it can change the performance of equipment that was originally installed. It doesn’t mean it was incorrect. It just means it either needs to be an adjustment or most likely, it will be fine in another few weeks or month or whatever the case might be.
Yeah, it might not be immediate, but somewhat gradual. Ok, well, this is exactly the kind of information that folks should know as you consider what might be causing smelly water in your house and how to take steps to try and remedy that. And Tom and the team at Gordon Water Systems can answer these questions and give you your unique perspective and evaluation and provide you with a plan to look forward. So look in the show notes and you’ll find a link to Gordon Water Systems and you can connect with them by way of their website or by phone. And Tom and his team can help get the ball rolling and figure out how to solve the smelly water problem in your house.
Gordon Water Wisdom, a special series here on the Richard Piatt show.