What’s That Smell in My Pipes? (Explained)

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Plumbing problems can be frustrating. When your water smells like sewage, or you notice a bad smell coming from your drains, it’s important to understand what the problem is and how to fix it.

There could be bacteria on the pipes that are causing the smell. The bacteria tend to eat the dirt or debris that accumulates in the drains, which eventually produces the scent of sulfide gas. The smell that the gutters will be having is that of rotten eggs.

Why Does Sulfuric Acid Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

There is nothing as disgusting as the foul smell from the pipes and drains in the house. If you notice that your pipes have a sewage smell, then there is something wrong somewhere. Usually, the scent is that of Sulfuric acid that comes out as the rotten eggs smell.

It is usual for most people to leave out the drains when doing their daily cleaning. But you forget that this may be one of the most important places that require cleaning and failing to clean leads to the accumulation of debris. The debris eventually clogs the pipes, and in worst scenarios, it starts producing bacteria.

The bacteria in the pipes start to feed on the debris. This process results in the production of sulfuric acid, whose smell is that of rotten eggs. If you have never smelt sulfur, then liken its smell to that of a rotten egg, and the scent can emanate from your kitchen sinks, shower drains and bathroom sinks.

Usually, the sulfur smell comes from hydrogen sulfide, one of the most prevalent sewages. Many possible causes bring about this rotten egg smell. And one of the most common ones is the clogging of the drains.

There are usually many things that will pass through your drains, be it food, hair or fine soap particles. When there is an accumulation of such particles in the pipes, of course, it will end up clogging. You should notice that there is clogging in your pipes when it takes a long time to drain.

It makes bacteria build up along the drain as it tries to feed on them. So, when the gutters are clogged, the particles end up staying in one place. Consequently, they create hydrogen sulfide gas.

At times you will realize that the smell of rotten eggs transfers to the water. Such is the case, especially when you run water through your pipes after some time, like in the morning. If your plumbing system has no good aeration or the metal parts are rusted, it paves the way for the bacteria to thrive.

When the sulfate-reducing bacteria grows in such an area, it makes the water smell like rotten eggs. In some cases, you will notice that the scent is also in hot water, say the shower water. If the awful egg smell emanates from both the cold and hot water, the root cause can be mainly hydrogen sulfide.

Technically, there will be sulfuric acid in your drains or pipes. And due to the clogging or corrosion in the area, it gets heated up, making it possible for the sulfuric acid to convert into Hydrogen sulfide gas. Usually, the hydrogen sulfide gas will be at its low levels, and when it is at this stage, it produces the rotten eggs smell.

You can eliminate the rotten egg smell of sulfuric acid by maybe washing the drain with several buckets of hot water.

You want to ensure that you oxidize any hydrosulfide agent in the pipes, and to do so, you can add some diluted bleach then flash it off after a few hours. Ensure you keep your windows and doors open when doing this to allow the smell to escape.

Is It Bad to Smell Sulfuric Acid?

It is terrible to smell sulfuric acid, and coming into contact with it may cause irritation and breathing problems. Sulfuric acid is a prevalent item for household use; therefore, it is easy to expose it. Usually, it comes in handy when cleaning up drains and toilet bowls.

You can expose yourself to sulfuric acid if you breathe outdoor air that contains the sulfuric acid compound. The droplets of sulfuric acid form in the air when one releases sulfur dioxide in the air, and when it reacts with water, it then forms sulfuric acid. When you breathe, the droplets of sulfuric acid may enter your system.

So, smelling them will make their deposits in the respiratory system parts, and worse cases, they may deposit in the lungs. Any issues that the sulfuric acid touches will cause a problem. In most cases, people will experience breathing problems when their respiratory system contacts the sulfuric acid droplets.

If there is pollution in the air with this gas, it will result in breathing problems. The extent of the damage that smelling sulfuric acid may be more prevalent if you have been exercising or asthma. Also, breathing derails the function of the respiratory tract of removing other small particles that you may have inhaled.

The sulfuric acid droplets may also irritate the respiratory tract. If you breathe through the mouth and the droplets will rest there, they may cause corrosion and erosion of the teeth. If you smell and take it in high concentrations and regularly, it may lead to you having cancer of the Larynx.

So, if you can avoid smelling sulfuric acid, you may not be able to control this ability at times since it may be already in the air as a pollutant. But, breathing is likely to cause more harm to you.

How Do You Get Rid of Sulphuric Acid Smell?

The damage sulphuric acid causes is a lot, especially health-wise. It causes headaches, breathing problems, running nose irritation and much more. On the house side, it brings about the stinky odor that smells like rotten eggs and which may spread quickly from the drains or pipes to the entire house.

Of course, it may be hard to live in a place where the sulphuric acid smell is prevalent. Trying to clean up the area may come in handy, but even so, it may be hard to eliminate the entire odor. But first, before anything, it is essential to try and find out the source of the smell, so look at the same pipe where the smell is emanating.

One pretty easy and efficient way you can eliminate the smell is by use of baking soda. Usually, the baking soda acts as a diffuser so that it will deactivate the sulphuric acid smell.

If the rotten egg smell is coming from the drains or the corners of your house, sprinkles the areas with it and best if you can spray your whole home with it to completely get rid of it.

You can also use white vinegar, which best acts as a deodorizing agent. When using it, you should pour it in areas that have a sulphuric acid smell. For example, if your clothes have an odor, you need to mix vinegar and water and then soak them in there.

Sometimes you may need to test your water and determine the source of the sulphuric acid smell. If it is the source with an issue, you can try to chlorine shock it for maybe six months to see if it will stop smelling this way. Also, you can install some activated carbon filters on the faucets or install a water filtration unit under your kitchen sink to treat the water.

For the activated carbon or charcoal filters, you only need to purchase them from a store. They come in handy when discharging residue and eliminating odors from water. Also, it is important to keep cleaning the water appliances regularly and use water purification products on your water.


The rotten eggs smell is prevalent in most drains, and the leading cause is the clogging of the pipes. Usually, the scent comes to be when the sulfuric acid converts to hydrogen sulfide due to the heating up of the drains. The gas is pretty irritating and can cause breathing problems hence the need to keep your gutters clean.