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
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.
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.
On 26 Sep 2005 20:25:51 -0700, email@example.com 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.
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.
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.
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.
On 27 Sep 2005 19:36:43 -0700, firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
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
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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
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.
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
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 :)
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.
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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