Water softeners are a popular option for improving water quality around your home. While many homeowners use water softeners with no problems, some have reported a strange fishy smell that develops after the water has been treated. So, what causes this and what can be done to correct it? fishy-fishy-1369283

Resin Issues: 

Water softeners are often whole house systems that are designed to soften water and improve the water taste and odor. This requires the right type of resin to be used in the process of ion exchange. Unfortunately, water chemistry can vary a great deal, and in some circumstances, the chemistry of your water could react with the resin to create a fishy smell. This can usually be corrected with slight changes to the resin composition, so you will need to speak to your water treatment professional.  

Stinky Tank: 

Another reason why you may have developed fishy or poor smelling water after softening is that there is an issue with your water softener tank. Regardless of whether you’ve bought a cheap generic unit or top of line branded appliance, any softener tank can develop a bad odor if it is infested with sulfur bacteria. In most cases, sulfur bacteria becomes attracted to the sodium inside your water softener tank. As the bacteria develops, it releases hydrogen sulfide gas as a waste product. This creates a rotten egg or unpleasant smell.

Fortunately, this issue has a relatively simple fix; regular and thorough cleaning. Water softener tanks do create the ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, so it is important that it is kept as clean and sanitary as possible. Most manufacturers recommend using a professional service to have your brine tank, and softener cleaned at least once per year. An experienced professional has the skills, tools, and expertise to kill off any sulfur bacteria and eliminate the hydrogen sulfide that is giving your softener a bad smell.  

Water Contaminants: 

If your tank is clean and your resin is correct, you may need to look a little deeper into your fishy smelling water. It could be that your water has an unpleasant odor because of contaminants present in your water supply. If your water contains iron, hydrogen sulfide, sulfur or other contaminants, you will need additional filtration. It may be possible to install pre filters to your water softener to eliminate the contaminants that are problematic in your geographic area. A professional water treatment specialist can check your water and ensure that it is properly tested to determine contaminant levels. This will ensure that your water treatment system is tailored to your specific requirements. Although this may cost more initially compared to a generic big box store softener, it can eliminate the frustration and headaches of failing to address any underlying water quality issues.  

If you have concerns about your water quality, you should speak to a water treatment specialist. A fully WQA certified professional will guide you through the available options that are best suited to your requirements and meet the industry standards.

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative. Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices. EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state.