This pump injects small amounts of hydrogen peroxide into incoming water streams to disinfect and deodorize it. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

This pump injects small amounts of hydrogen peroxide into incoming water streams to disinfect and deodorize it. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

Houseworks: Sulphur Water Fix

Q: How can I get rid of the rotten egg smell of the water at our cottage? It affects both the hot and cold supply. I’m told dumping chlorine down the well may help, at least for a while. What are my options?

A: It sounds like you’ve got a significant case of sulphur water and I know of a solution that has worked in every situation I’ve seen it applied to. The installation of a small pump to inject 35 per cent hydrogen peroxide into the water at a rate of 25 parts per million (ppm) kills the sulphur smell by breaking down the chemical components involved and preventing them from coming back. The best solutions I’ve seen also involve running this treated water through a carbon filter or water softener as a final step. I’ve never seen this combination fail to remove rotten egg odours.

The thing to understand is that sulphur water behaves in two different ways. In some cases the water smells fine flowing into the well (at least for a while), but over time the sulphur smell develops and remains. Cases like this happen because the water is rich in iron.

When iron-feeding microbes get into the well and grow, they feed on the odourless iron compounds, in turn creating that characteristic rotten egg smell of sulphur water. If this is your situation, then disinfecting the well can offer long-term relief, though typically not permanent.

The other type of sulphur water smells like rotten eggs right from the get-go. In cases like these disinfecting the well won’t help because it’s not an issue of microbial infection after the water enters the well, but rather a matter of the chemistry of the water before it flows into the well. Your only hope in cases like these is a system that changes the sulphur compounds chemically.

As I mentioned, one excellent approach uses hydrogen peroxide injection and subsequent filtration. This eliminates all causes of sulphur water, regardless of the source. Some systems use chlorine to get rid of sulphur smell, but these are more costly, more troublesome and less healthy than hydrogen peroxide. Despite its use to sterilize municipal water supplies, chlorine as a water treatment option is fraught with health concerns that few public health authorities seem willing to address in North America.

There are many places in Europe where the use of chlorine as a water treatment is banned because of health concerns.

We’ve had a hydrogen peroxide system in combination with a whole-house carbon filter at our place for more than 20 years and it works flawlessly, costing only about $100 per year for peroxide.

Cracked Ceiling Solution

Q: How can I stop the ceiling from cracking and recracking where it meets a partition wall in my home? I think I have a case of roof truss uplift. Repeated drywall repair attempts by a contractor look good at first, but the cracks always return each winter.

A: Looking at the photo you sent and reading your description of the behaviour of the situation, it’s clear that you do have truss uplift.

This happens when the framing members that form your ceiling rise and fall seasonally as the rest of the roof frame changes temperature and moisture content. The question is how to stop truss uplift from being noticeable.

I’ve seen good results installing crown moulding that’s fastened to the ceiling only. It’s crucial that the moulding remain unfastened to the wall. When the ceiling rises and falls because of truss uplift, the crown moulding simply moves up and down in relation to the wall. The cracks you see in the top corner of your ceiling are caused by this movement, and though the cracks will remain there, you won’t see it under crown moulding.

Steve Maxwell likes crown moulding for more reasons than just hiding truss uplift. Visit Steve online at for Canada’s largest collection of homegrown videos, articles and online courses for home improvement and hands-on living.