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Why Do Sprinklers Smell Bad – And It’s 3 Uncommon Solution!

Are you worried about why do sprinklers smell bad? Are you not able to locate the root of the problem? Well, if the answer is yes, then you’re in the right place. We’re here to help you solve the problem of why do sprinklers smell bad? 

Contrary to what you might think, sprinklers giving off a bad odor are a common problem. So don’t be too worried. This problem is fixable. However, if you don’t act on it fast, you might end up stinking up the entire garden.

If you pick up the smell of rotten eggs or sulfur from your sprinkler, it isn’t a good sign. This nasty smell will lead you to believe that the solution for why do sprinklers smell bad? might cost a lot or need high-class plumbing, but we’re here to tell you that that is not the case.

If you want to find out why do sprinklers smell bad, and some ways to prevent this from happening, keep on reading!

Why Do Sprinklers Smell Bad
Set of automatic sprinklers watering fresh grass – via Flickr

Why Do Sprinklers Smell Bad?

If you haven’t used your water heater attached to the sprinklers in a long time, hydrogen sulfide starts to build up in it. This build-up is the cause of this nasty odor. The reason why your water smells like sulfur or rotten eggs is that it might contain some traces of hydrogen sulfide.

Even if your sprinklers have a small amount of hydrogen sulfide present, it could result in a disastrous odor. The smell of hydrogen sulfide is so pungent that most humans can detect it well below the level of 0.5 mg/L.

Is it Harmful?

Hydrogen sulfide is a non-health risk, but its scent is so bad that it makes the water feel poisonous. It makes the water unbearable long before it can reach the concentrations needed to induce any harm to your plants or even your health.

It does nothing more than to give your water a disgusting scent. In that way, hydrogen sulfide makes its presence known before a high concentration is reached, enough to be classified as harmful.

This is the reason why hydrogen sulfide does not have a drinking water standard. In large amounts, hydrogen sulfide can be poisonous. It can irritate the eyes and respiratory system. But it is easy to detect, and hence is usually treated before any damage.

Sources of Hydrogen Sulfide

Now that we’ve identified the problem, we need to determine the exact source of the issue. Only by identifying the source, we will be able to stop the bad smell coming from the sprinklers.

Hydrogen sulfide is a compound that is found naturally in groundwater when the activity of sulfur reduces bacteria in the water.

These bacterias are responsible for feeding on small amounts of sulfur in the water, and they thrive in low-oxygen environments like wells, plumbing systems, and yes, you guessed it – sprinklers.

These sulfur-reducing bacterias are the reason for the bad odor in water, but they don’t cause any health concerns. 

Some hydrogen sulfide problems only occur in hot water. If your sprinklers are attached to a hot water faucet, this might be the source of the nasty odor. Chemical reactions inside the water heater will lead to a horrible stink in your sprinklers.

Water heaters are usually fitted with a magnesium rod. This magnesium rod’s purpose is to reduce corrosion of the heater. However, as magnesium is a reducing agent, it reduces sulfate in the water to the form of hydrogen sulfide, which is the very chemical that causes the rotten egg odor in your sprinklers. 

Why Do Sprinklers Smell Bad 2
Oscillating Sprinkler – via Wikimedia


Having identified the problem and its source, you’re now capable to look for a solution. There are many ways you can stop the bad odor coming from your sprinklers. Let’s get into them.

Clean Your Pipes

Hydrogen sulfide might be building up in the pipes of your sprinklers. The first step you should take is cleaning them out. Turn the faucets on and let the water flow through the sprinklers for 10 to 15 minutes. This should clear out your pipes. Hopefully, you won’t have to bear with the rotten egg odor anymore.

Clean Your Hot Water Heater

If the previous step doesn’t solve the problem, you should move ahead and flush your water heater. If your sprinklers are attached to a hot water faucet, there’s a fair chance that the water heater is the problem.

Look for the hose that connects the water heater with the sprinklers. Using that hose let hot water drain out for 10 minutes. After that, take a water sample in the cup and check for sediments.

If there are none, then the problem is solved. If not, then let the water drain out until there are no particles in the sample.

If this doesn’t work, then your water heater needs to disinfect. Turn the temperature of your water heater to 160 degrees and let the water run. The heat from the water will be enough to kill any odor-inducing bacteria.

Add Water Filters

This might be a temporary fix, but a handy one. Adding water filters to your hose won’t just help with the sprinkler smelling bad, but will protect all water faucets. Keep in mind that you will have to replace the water filters every now and then. If you don’t, they might also lead to a bad smell.

The water filter we recommend is Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filter. It’s available on Amazon.


If your sprinklers are smelling bad, it is nothing to worry about. This problem has a solution. This unpleasant scent is caused due to the presence of hydrogen sulfide in your sprinklers, and simple solutions like cleaning your pipes, cleaning the water heater, and adding water filters will fix the problem.

All you have to do is follow the correct instructions. Products like Aqua-Pure Whole House Water Filter will help you along the way. If you take care of your sprinklers and take the right preventative measure, you might never have to face this problem.

We hope this helped you in answering your question. If you have any queries, feel free to ask and we’ll get back to you!