Why Does My Bathroom Smell Like Eggs? Understanding the Issue

“Help! “My toilet smells like rotten eggs!” This is a widespread request we get from homeowners. If you notice a sulfuric odor within your home, you may want to know why and if it’s a plumbing issue that must be addressed immediately. We need to ask more precise questions to get an answer to that query.

Is the smell from the water itself?

Man cleaning his washroom

If you think, “My sink water smells like rotten eggs,” the next step is to test the water.

  1. Pour water into a clean glass from a tap in one area (such as the kitchen).
  2. Pour another glass of water into another area (such as the restroom).
  3. Smell both glasses outdoors (or in a location that does not smell like your bedroom).
  4. Figure out which glasses of water smell.
    1.  If both glasses smell, It’s most likely your water. Proceed to the following question to determine if hot or cold water is impacted.
    2.  If one glass smells and not the other, try the other faucets in the home. Keep track of which rooms are encountering issues. This might be due to bacterial growth in one of the pipelines or connectors.
    3.  If neither glass smells, The sulfuric odor might be caused by drainage issues in some sinks.

Is the smell coming from hot water only?

It’s time to run another test. Repeat the glass-of-water experiment with boiling and entirely cold water.

  •  Hot Water Only  If the problem is with the hot water, your hot water heater may need to be disinfected. The anode rod must be replaced, and the tank must be disinfected. When dealing with the hot water tank, be sure the area smells like rotten eggs rather than gas before proceeding – a gas leak may be somewhat hazardous! (If you’re uncomfortable doing this, contact a local handyperson like us.)
  •  Cold Water Only  Your well’s pressure tank may be compromised. (Obviously, this is only applicable to houses with wells.)
  •  Hot and Cold Water:  If both hot and cold water smells, you’re probably getting sulfuric tap water. Because you’re dealing with sulfuric water, Pittsburgh residents should test their water for lead and other particles. Some people choose to install a filter system to aid with this problem.

Is the smelly water only in one area of your house?

If your water smells like sulfur in one faucet but not the others, you may have a localized plumbing problem along a single pipe or fixture. If extra “dead legs” of plumbing are merely closed off, anaerobic bacteria may grow, resulting in foul gas. Before calling a plumber, check whether your sink smells like rotten eggs because the water flows in rather than the drain. Verify this with another glass-water experiment.
If the odor comes from your drain, germs might be trapped in the P-trap. Pour some bleach down the drain to disinfect it.

Are the smells only coming from your bathroom?

But what exactly creates a rotten egg odor in the bathroom? It might be sulfuric tap water, stinking drains, or “dead legs” of plumbing, but before we go into how to solve each aspect of the bathroom, let’s make one thing clear:

 If your bathroom smells like rotten eggs, it might be due to a buildup of bacteria in your pipes, but if it smells like sewage, it could be a sign of more severe issues. 

If the sulfur smell in the bathroom is caused by poor tap water quality, you’ll see regular orange-and-yellow stains on the toilet bowl.

Is it your bathroom sink?

A slow-draining sink clogged with regular hair and soap scum may cause germs to grow in the P-trap, causing your bathroom sink to smell like rotten eggs. This odor may also occur in sinks that were last used long ago. Remove the blockage using a solution of baking soda, white vinegar, and hot water. Check to see whether hair has plugged the drain. If you have significant clogging problems, contact a plumber.

Is it your shower drain?

If your shower drain smells like rotten eggs, apply the same method for your bathroom sink: flush out a blocked drain with baking soda, vinegar, and hot water. Check to see if the odor improves.

Is it the toilet only?

Throw a bleach tab in the tank if your toilet still stinks after cleaning. If the stench is sewage rather than rotten eggs, it’s time to call your local plumber.

Is it your kitchen’s garbage disposal?

Bacteria may quickly accumulate in your garbage disposal, so put some ice cubes in it and run it carefully to clean the blades.
You can do a lot to explore the problem, but if the rotten-egg stench persists and the issues remain, contact your local plumber.

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