Sulfur Facts

Why does my water smell like rotten eggs?

The "rotten egg" smell that occasionally comes from your faucet is likely hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide (commonly called sulfur) odors often present themselves in a homeowner’s hot water. Sulfur is a mineral, that like many other minerals, exists in the ground, and is dissolved in the well long before being pumped out of the ground. Even though this odor is a nuisance, the water is safe for consumption with low levels of sulfur.

We have also noticed when water sits in a water main unused for a period of time, sulfur odors can present themselves. Often times, a new development will experience this, until most of the homes are occupied and more water is being used.

What can I do to help control the odor?

There are several different steps you can take to help alleviate the odor. The first thing to try is to turn on the hot water throughout your home and let the water run until cold. Doing this flushes out the water heater and will eventually lessen the odor. You may have to do this more than once, and you may need to do it periodically to keep the tank flushed out. Another thing you can try is to have a plumber remove the magnesium corrosion rod from your water tank and replace it with an aluminum/zinc rod. The factory installed magnesium rod in water heaters causes the dissolved sulfur to precipitate into a gas, causing the odor at the faucet. Water heater chlorination can also be done, however if you are unsure of how to do this, you should hire a qualified plumber.

Additionally, a home filtration system can be installed to remove sulfates from your water.

Why does the cold water smell like sulfur as well as the hot water?

Chances are you smell the remnants of the hot water, and if you allow the cold faucet to run longer, the odor should disappear. Your outside faucets are plumbed directly to cold water, and there likely will not be a sulfur smell on those faucets. That will help you to determine if the source is your water heater.

What if the odor doesn’t go away?

Please feel free to contact Mark Chandler at 410-479-5446 to discuss the problem you are having. Even though we won’t be able to enter your home and work on your plumbing, we will gladly discuss the issue with you and provide you with as much information as possible on how to alleviate the odor.

Is Town water safe to drink?

Denton Public Works takes all measures necessary to provide Town residents with safe water that is free from objectionable odors, tastes, and color. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Maryland Department of the Environment set stringent levels of regulation for Town water. Daily, monthly, quarterly, and annual water samples are monitored. Please see the annual water quality report for details on what parameters are tested and the lab results.

For more information on water quality and testing requirements, please visit
Water Supply (

EPA Drinking Water Regulations