Why Does My House Smell Like Rotten Eggs?

If you’re experiencing a rotten egg smell in the house, the refrigerator may not be the only place to check. If you can’t locate the source of the rotten egg smell, you could have a dangerous gas leak.

When possible, the best thing to do is turn off the gas to your home and evacuate. Then, you can either call 911 or the local gas company. In some cases, you may not be able to locate or shut off the gas. If this is your case, please leave your home immediately and make the call.

Regardless of the cause of the odor, Black Hills is ready to offer HVAC, plumbing, and sewer services to homeowners in the Olympia, Washington, area to fix whatever issue is causing the putrid rotten egg stench.

Where Does the Smell Come From?

There are a few, mostly plumbing-related, reasons why your home smells like rotten eggs. Hydrogen sulfide, a natural occurrence in sewers, emits a rotten egg smell, so this can be an indication of a sewer backup. Call for immediate help if this is the case because this gas is highly toxic and flammable.

However, there’s another–even more dangerous–cause.

Natural gas has no odor of its own. A chemical called mercaptan is added so you can sense a gas leak. Natural gas, which is extremely flammable, can be ignited by the slightest spark. Turning on a light, flicking a match, or using the phone may be enough to trigger an explosion, so leave your home immediately and call for help if you suspect a gas leak in the home.

Potential Furnace or HVAC Problem

You might notice a slight gas odor when turning the furnace on for the heating season for the first time. Dust and dirt may have settled, but the unit burns off this debris, and the odor quickly dissipates. If this is the case, just open some windows to ventilate your space. There’s nothing to worry about if the rotten egg smell goes away.

Furnaces emit small amounts of gas every time they turn on. Any odor during this time should be faint. But if you often smell gas throughout your home, the heating unit may be leaking. If you smell rotten eggs, turn off the furnace and call your local HVAC contractor immediately. You may be at risk of carbon monoxide exposure, especially if you have an old furnace, it hasn’t been properly maintained, or there’s poor or blocked ventilation.

Possible sources of a rotten egg odor include:

  1. Gas Blowing Back Inside: Gas may be ventilating outside but is getting blown back in by the wind. Depending on wind direction, closing a window, door, or flue can stop the gas from blowing in.
  2. Gas Leak: Common signs of a gas leak include a distinct, persistent odor or a whistling or hissing sound near a gas appliance. If a gas pipe is leaking, the sound will be even louder, like a roaring noise.
  3. Dry Drain Pipes: A bathroom that doesn’t get used as often might start to produce a rotten egg smell due to water evaporating in the u-shaped pipe, further aiding the sewer gas to waft into your home. To get rid of the smell, simply run water down the drains for about ten minutes to allow water to trap the sewer gas back in.
  4. Other Causes: If you leave the trash or compost pile near a window by your furnace, decomposing food and other materials may mimic the odor of a gas leak or rotten egg smell. A propane grill can be the source as well. If there’s one just outside, check whether the propane tank is leaking or not closed properly.

When to Call for Help

If there’s a gas leak, fire, or explosion, or you believe carbon monoxide poisoning may be imminent, call the gas company or 911. A few signs that you need to call for emergency assistance include:

  1. The smell is constant, and you don’t need to sniff around to see where it is.
  2. The gas smell is coming from the air vents in your home.
  3. A gas appliance or pipe is making an unusual noise.
  4. The carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm.

Can I Prevent a Rotten Egg Smell?

Other than discarding last week’s breakfast along with the rest of your old trash, you can prevent a smelly situation by maintaining your furnace. Annual maintenance, minor repairs, and tune-ups can keep your heating system running properly and prevent gas leaks.

Carbon monoxide is a potentially deadly byproduct of natural gas combustion. It’s colorless and odorless. A carbon monoxide detector is a small investment that can save your life–even waking you up in the middle of the night–so you can get outside and to safety should there ever be a gas leak in your home.

Another way to prevent this smell in your home is to ensure that all drains are being properly used and maintained. Dry drain pipes or clogged sewer pipes can both cause a rotten egg smell throughout the home. Whether it’s a problem with your sewer and drain lines or an HVAC issue, it’s essential to know the causes and remedies of this smell to quickly eliminate it from your home.

The rotten egg smell in homes is a common occurrence and our team at Black Hills are no strangers to the solution. Black Hills Inc. Home Services is ready 24/7 to address emergencies in the Olympia area.

We can quickly find and fix the root cause if your furnace is noisy, not providing heat, or there’s a gas odor in your home. Aside from addressing urgent issues, we specialize in heater maintenance that can improve the safety, efficiency, and lifespan of your furnace.

For immediate assistance, call Black Hills Inc. Home Services at 888-743-1041, and we’ll send our licensed, trained technicians to your home.