Sulphur Smell from Faucet in NYC Apartment

Hi. I know this question has been answered a few times before, but never with reference to the plumbing in a 20+ story apartment building in New York City. I just moved into the new apartment (the previous tenant just moved out) and have noticed a strong sulphur smell coming intermittently from the bathroom faucet. As far as I can tell, the smell seems to emanate only when the cold water is running. To the left of the sink is the toilet; to the right is the shower; immediately adjacent to the toilet (in the next room) is a washer/dryer unit. Perhaps coincidentally, the smell seems to appear after doing a load of laundry. Is there any way that the smell could be sewer gas? As far as I can tell, no other apartment in the building seems to be having this problem. I would really appreciate any advice. Thanks so much in advance.
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snipped-for-privacy@cornell.edu wrote:

Could be the wax seal on the toilet. They can leak sewer gas but show no sign of water leakage.
Or maybe the sink itself. Not the trap, but the internal passage in the basin for the overflow. They can stink pretty bad from gunk buildup and the initial flow of water (down the drain) can force the odor out.
Put your nose next to possible sources and have a helper run the water.
Jim
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Jim,
Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. The wax seal on the toilet is intact. I'm pretty certain that the smell is confined to the sink itself (incidentally, the smell also seems to coincide with the appearance of a very faint yellow build up near the drain of the sink. Tthe building will be sending a handyman up to my apartment tomorrow, but frankly, I don't expect him to be too sympathetic to my plight (or too competent, for that matter).. I will definitely mention to him what you suggested. In the meantime, though, can you tell me whether, even in the worst-case scenario, any of the water I've been using is "unsanitary"? In other words, is there any health concern using water that smells from sulphur/sewer gas? Finally, any ideas about the possible connection between the smell and the running of the washing machine? Thanks again for your time. I really do appreciate it.
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On 26 Sep 2005 20:25:51 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@cornell.edu wrote:

Go to the county and get a water test kit. It might be free, but may cost $20 or so. Some water has a sulpher smell, but usually only wells and you'd notice it in all sinks.
You could have crud in the overflow holes of the sink. Pour some bleach in that hole using a funnel or whatever will get it in there.
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It may be from hot water that backs up into the cold water line. But I would think it would show up in the hot water too. We sometimes get that smell from well water that has been heated. Try changing the magnesium anode rod in the water heater and install an aluminum anode rod instead. That seems to work here. The water heater manufacturer should have them available.
Stretch
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snipped-for-privacy@cornell.edu wrote:

Yeah, they will probably not be very sympathetic:-)
As Stretch said, it may be feedback from the Hot side. Running the washer could cause that as the inlet solenoid connects Cold to Hot.
Draw Cold water off into a glass and sniff that to see if it is the water or the sink.
On a city water supply (esp NYC), I doubt you're going to find anything hazardous, just annoying.
Jim
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Well, the handyman came today. He claimed not to smell anything (and, in truth, the smell was not particularly pungent when he came). He checked under and around the sink (it is a pedestal sink) for mold, but found nothing. He then checked under the hot and cold faucet handles and found some "debris," but nothing that seemed related to the smell. The aerator was fine. Sure enough, once he left, the smell began to emanate when I turned on the cold water faucet (although I should note that it usually dissipates after the water runs for a while). Still, what is curious to me is that when I first turn on the faucet, sometimes the smell is there, and sometime it isn't. I'm inclined to think that it's the sink. As long as I'm just dealing with the annoyance of a transient smell, I'll just pour some bleach down the drain and through the overflow holes (as an earlier poster suggested) and see if that takes care of the problem. Any idea how much I should use? As always, thank you for your feedback.
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On 27 Sep 2005 19:36:43 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@cornell.edu wrote:

Pour it in STRAIGHT. The amount is more or less till everything in the drain and overflow are saturated. Use a good solid stream when you pour, not just a little squirt at a time. You want it to saturate the crud. Get a gallon and get it in there liberally. Using a half gallon should be plenty as long as you saturate. Thats the key word !
One other thing comes to mind. What sort of supply pipes are under that sink? If they are some sort of plastic, you could have a plastic emitting the odor. Unlikely, but possible.
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There is no plastic under the sink. Just metal.
Thanks for the tip. I will definitely give it a shot. It's certainly cheap enough.
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I have a constant battle with the same issue. In my case, it's not th water itself, it's the drain. We have 3 bathrooms plus the kitchen sin and outside faucets. The only one that gives us problems is my kid upstairs bathroom. This was my first clue that it's not the water itself. Their sink stinks of sulfur something awful!!! It's mor noticable when running hot water than cold. I image the steam help lift the stink into the air. I took their drain apart, and found bunch of black nasty stuff in the pvc AFTER the P trap. I cleaned i all out, but of course the smell returned as the nasty built back up Keep in mind, my house is only 4 years old and this has been an issu since about 3 months after contruction was complete. I think it's jus bad "pipe planning". I think in our case, the drain pipe is not set a the proper angle for drainage. If this is the case w/ yours, my advic is buy lots and lots of bleach! I dump about 1/2 gallon down that drai once a week and it seems to keep most of the smell down. Hope thi helps. Good luck to you
-- ejk ----------------------------------------------------------------------- ejkz's Profile: http://www.homeplot.com/member.php?userid  View this thread: http://www.homeplot.com/showthread.php?tX86
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I think the thing we're not hearing here is whether or not this building has a rooftop water tower which may need cleaning. An old, apartment building in NYC might have this.
Dave M.
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Hi. The apartment building is only a few years old and is very well maintained. According to handyman, the building uses an advanced water heating and filtration process. Any other ideas?
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I don't think I have anything too helpful to add; you're getting great advice from what I read so far.
One thing to keep in mind, how ever irrelevant it may be: our noses are extremely sensitive to sulfur. It doesn't take much to really stink. That's why the scent is added to natural gas. We can smell very small amounts of it.
The discoloration of the water that coincides with the smell makes me wonder if you have chlorinated water. If you don't perhaps there is a bacteria buildup in your water line for that sink.
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Yes, I am extremely grateful for everyone's advice. I can't believe how helpful everyone here has been.
You make a very good point. I admit that I am somewhat sensitive to smells. Still, at times, the smell seems so pungent that I imagine anyone would be able to pick it up. As for the discoloration of the water, I'm starting to think the discoloration may just be a coincidence.
If you'll indulge me, let me reiterate a question I posed earlier: If it is in fact just sulphur, is it in any way unsanitary to use the water to wash, rinse, etc.? Or is it just the annoyance of the smell? "Speedy Jim" pointed out earlier that NYC water is unlikely to contain any harmful contaminants. If that's the case, then I can put up with the smell. From what I gather from some of the archived posts, I guess I wouldn't be the only one :)
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Out of curiousity, have you tried taking a bottleful of water at one of the time it smells, and carrying it off to the other side of the apartment, and seeing if it still smells?
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Where I work the water smells like sulfur all the time. The water quality has to be tested regularly to keep up with the rules of operating an adult foster care home. It sure reeks, but the tests say it's safe.
It makes every wet load of laundry (and glass of water) smell like it's been farted through. :-D But it comes out of the dryer smelling clean.
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On Thu, 29 Sep 2005 20:13:02 -0400, "Olaf"

Hey, you should bottle and sell that stuff. Teenagers in particular would buy "Fart Flavored Water" just for the name alone, plus all those heavy metal stars would toss it off the stage and into the crowd the same way they throw beer and drumsticks !!!! You might be sitting on a gold mine and not know it !!!
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HAH! I'll just start driving a tanker to work. They'd never suspect.
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