Home » Contaminants » Well Water Smells like Sewage [Causes & Fixes]

Well Water Smells like Sewage [Causes & Fixes]

Updated on September 5, 2022

Possible Causes behind Well Water Smelling like Sewage

Bacteria in Drain

Sewage smell only when you open your faucet is due to bacteria growing in your drains. Food leftovers, oil drops, and organic matter clinging to the sink’s plughole and drains, lead to bacterial growth. Bacteria releases sulfur gas which smells like rotten eggs and sewage.

Water running over bacteria activates the sewage-like smell. You can check this by collecting a glass of water and smelling it somewhere outside. If there is no sewage smell in it, the bacteria in the drain are causing the sewage smell.

Use an anti-bacterial drain cleaner, hot water or white vinegar to flush the bacteria growing in the drain.

Sulfur, Iron, or Bacteria in Well Water

Bacterial contamination can happen for various reasons like iron combining with bacteria, decomposing organic matter, surface run-off, soil contamination, rainwater contamination, or animal waste contamination.

Defective septic systems or septic systems located closer than 50 feet can also leach bacteria into your well water.

Water Heater Issues

Many private well owners only report sewage or rotten egg smell in hot water. Bacteria can grow inside water heaters if they aren’t used regularly. You won’t drink water from a water heater, so this isn’t a health concern. However, it feels awful to bathe in water with sewage-smelling water.

How to find out what’s causing the Sewage Smell in my Well Water?

First, check your drains and water heater to see bacterial growth. Bacterial growth can take different colors, but it usually has a slimy appearance. Clean everything that looks dirty and ugly. You can use hot water, vinegar, or commercial cleaners to eliminate bacterial growth.

You can also install a new anode rod for well water to eliminate the hot water smell.

Once it is ruled out that the water heater or dirty drains are not causing sewage smell, get your well water tested. You can use SpringWell’s home testing kit to test your water for bacteria and 53 other contaminants in well water.

Solutions to Fix Well Water Smelling like Sewage

Shock Chlorination

Shock chlorination is a labor-intensive but the most reliable way to remove bacteria from a water well. It is relatively easy to chlorinate a water well but you must calculate the chlorine volume carefully. Most people DIY chlorinate a water well.

Click here to read more on how to shock chlorinate a well.


Certain geographical regions have a recurring bacterial contamination problem. You can install a chlorinator if the bacteria come back after contamination. It automatically chlorinates the water passing through it. The only problem is the excessive chlorine smell and taste in water that you can remove with a carbon filter.

Recommended Chlorinator: SpringWell’s Chemical Injection System

SpringWell’s Chemical Injection System

SpringWell’s chlorinator is a specialist in killing iron bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens in well water. The unit works 24/7 to deliver 100% bacteria-free water. It is easy to install and can be paired with a whole-house water filter or a UV purification system.

RO filters & UV Purifiers

The CDC recommends using RO filters and UV purifiers to remove microbial contamination from water. Since both are 100% effective in removing bacteria from water, they also remove sewage/rotten egg smell from water.

RO filters and UV purifiers are often used for potable water treatment. These filters don’t use chlorine to treat water, so the water is free from taste and odor.

Recommended UV Purification System: SpringWell’s UV Water Purifier

SpringWell’s UV Water Purifier

SpringWell’s UV purification system removes up to 99.9% of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria from drinking water. You can also pair the purifier with a water softener or a whole-house water filter for improved results.

It is costly, but the price hike is justified by its performance, user-friendly features, and interactive electronic monitor for lamp change reminders. The system comes with a lifetime warranty on tanks and valves.

Recommended RO System: SpringWell’s RO Drinking Water System

SpringWell’s RO Drinking Water System

RO water filter systems remove up to 99.9% of contaminants found in well water. The system consists of one sediment filter, two carbon block filters, one RO membrane, and a pressurized tank for water storage.

You can also pair a whole-house water filter or UV system to improve water quality. The system can filter 75 gallons of water daily.

Air Injection Filters

Air injection systems remove iron bacteria and hydrogen sulfide. These units oxidize iron and hydrogen sulfide using an air stream. The oxidized contaminants are then captured by a filtration media to be flushed out during backwash.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an activated carbon filter remove sewage smell from water?

An activated carbon filter can slightly remove the sewage smell but not eliminate it. It will not remove bacteria from your water.

Is the sewage smell in my well water dangerous?

It depends on what’s causing the sewage smell and do you drink smelly water. Smell due to bacteria can cause health problems like diarrhea, nausea, and headache. The sewage smell due to hydrogen sulfide is usually harmless.

Why my well water started smelling bad suddenly?

Natural events like geological changes, earthquakes, floods, and torrential rains may cause well water to change its taste or develop a smell. Moreover, bacterial growth in the water heater can make your hot water smell like sewage.

What to do if only a few faucets smell?

It could happen due to two reasons. First, there is bacterial growth inside the faucet’s drain. Second, bacterial growth could be inside the fixtures or the pipes supplying water to those specific faucets.

Why does my well water smell musty, moldy, earthy, grassy, or fishy?

These odors can occur in your water due to decaying organic matter in the drain or pollution of well water from surface drainage.

Why does my water smell like petroleum and gasoline?

The common reasons are listed below.

  • Leaking fuel tank or underground fuel storage tank near your well
  • Discharge from industries, agriculture sites, or landfill


  • Roy Jones

    Roy lives in Anderson, Texas, and has been a part of various certified well drilling firms. He has extensive 20 years of working experience in water wells maintenance, repair, and drinking quality. Roy has been guiding neighbors on well issues and writes to educate private well owners about various well water issues.

Leave a Comment