You're folding laundry or getting dressed and you notice your clothes smell odd. The smell may be musty, metallic, or sulphuric. If your household water source is a well, then your well water is almost certainly the source of the odor. Not only is this a nuisance, it can pose a serious health issue, if this well water is also your drinking water.
Causes of Odors in Well Water
Certain varieties of bacteria use iron or sulphur in the course of their life cycles and then give off offensive odors created by the discharge of hydrogen sulfide gas. A sulphuric or rotten egg smell in your well water can also be an indicator of sulphur or methane in the water. Metallic odors can indicate acidic water with the presence of iron or copper. Earthy smells can emanate from organic substances in the well water. Tannins or decaying plants may be infiltrating your well water, if the water smells musty or earthy.
The Role of Well Water Testing Centers
To locate a testing agency in your area, you can call the Environmental Protection Agency's Safe Drinking Water hotline at 800-426-4791. You can also contact your local Department of Natural Resources for information on legitimate water testing laboratory facilities near your home. Once you locate a well water testing center, contact the center and carefully follow the instructions the staff member gives you on how to collect and deliver a sample of your water for testing. Explain that your water is giving off an offensive odor, describe it to the testing staff and communicate the extent of the odor's intrusion into your home. It is necessary to find the exact cause of the odor to correct it. The experts at your well water testing center help determine which contaminants are the cause of the odor.
Exploring Treatment Options
After you receive your well water test results, look at treatment options specific to your well water's needs. Professional water treatment companies such as Culligan and Aquatech can provide you with filtration and reverse osmosis systems that remove odors while purifying your water for drinking. Your well water may just need to be shocked or chlorinated. Determine if both hot and cold water are giving off odors; if it is the hot water, then the source of contamination may just be your hot-water tank. Companies that provide water treatment systems will often test your water at no charge.
Do-It-Yourself Testing and Treatment Options
You can purchase water test kits at stores such as Home Depot or Lowe's, or the Environmental Protection Agency or Department of Natural Resources in your area can help you obtain a test kit. A do-it-yourself lab-quality test kit can measures bacteria, mercury, copper, nitrates, nitrites, pH, total hardness, sulfate, free chlorine, iron, and alkalinity. A lower-quality test kit may only test for pH, iron, total hardness and alkalinity. Be sure to purchase the correct kit, depending upon your needs. Once you test your water, you can weigh your options and purchase an affordable do-it-yourself filtration system designed specifically to address your water's issues. There are purification systems that remove iron, manganese, hydrogen sulfide odors, and herbicides. Softening systems help if you are battling hard water. An ultraviolet light system may be just the answer for bacterial contamination of your well water. Test your water again once you've installed your filtration system.
Colleen Flood began her writing career in 2000. She has written for "Alaska Business Monthly Magazine," "Alaska Contractor Magazine," Chelsea House Publishing, Mason Crest Publishing, "Chicken Soup for the Grandparent's Soul" and "The Writer's Digest." Flood has a Bachelor of Education in elementary education from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.