News Flash

City Manager Report

Posted on: June 19, 2020

Is it smelly water…or dried drains?


By Cassie McClure and Suzanne Michaels

Las Cruces Utilities (LCU) delivers approximately seven (7) billion gallons of safe, fresh, and clean water to residential and business customers every year.

Occasionally a customer calls about a bad smell that seems to be coming from a water faucet, especially in an infrequently used bathroom. “Although we will dispatch a Water technician to go check it out, most times that odor is found to be coming from a dry drain or the smell is originating in a hot water heater that needs maintenance, replacement of the anode, or an increase in water heater temperature,” said Adrienne L. Widmer, P.E., LCU deputy director Water.

If you’re having problems, first determine what type of smell: If you smell sulfur - a rotten egg-like odor, do you smell it only when running hot water? The cause could be bacteria growing in a hot water heater or the sacrificial anode in the water heater reacting with our hard water. Is the water heater set at the right temperature? Or, have you turned it off or adjusted the heat down while you were away for an extended period of time? In the water heater, bacteria is not a health threat; however, the microbes must be eliminated to stop the odor problem. That requires draining the water heater and increasing the temperature. If it’s the anode, you should consult your owner’s manual or contact a licensed plumber to have the anode removed or replaced with an anode that will not react.

“If you haven’t used a sink or tub for some time, the drain may become dry allowing sewer odors to come into your home. By using water regularly in all sinks, basins, and/or tubs within your home, odors can be eliminated.

If you have traveled, it is always a good idea to flush all your cold water faucets for a few minutes when you get home. This ensures you have flushed stagnant household water from your household piping, which can lead to odors and discolored water. If you have a filter or softener system, which removes chlorine, water may stagnate more quickly. It is important to use the correct filter size and type recommended for your system and to always follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.

If you have tried some of these do-it-yourself checks and your water is still smelly, please contact us through our 24/7 Utilities Dispatch at 575/526-0500 and we will send a Water technician out to assist.

LCU can be reached at 575/528-3500 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. LCU provides services to approximately 100,000 Las Cruces residents and businesses.

PHOTO  CAPTION: Bad smells can come from dry drains in infrequently used sinks or tubs, and from hot water heaters with temperature controls that are turned too low, or require maintenance or attention to an anode.

Note: This story was recently published in the Las Cruces Bulletin.

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