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Smelly water? Flush those pipes


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

Occasionally, a customer calls in about a bad smell that seems to be coming from a water faucet, especially in an infrequently used bathroom.

“Although we will dispatch a 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 water heater that needs maintenance, replacement of the anode or an increase in water heater temperature,” said Adrienne L. Widmer, LCU’s deputy director.

A rotten-egg odor indicates bacteria growing in a water heater or the sacrificial anode in the water heater reacting with hard water. Bacteria is not a health threat, but 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, a licensed plumber should be contracted to have the anode replaced.

“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,” Widmer said.

After extended non-use – such as a vacation – flushing all cold-water faucets for a few minutes upon return is recommended, ensuring that stagnant water is replaced with fresh water in the pipes, which can reduce odors and discolored water. In homes with filters or softener systems that remove chlorine, water may stagnate more quickly. It is important to use the correct filter size and type recommended for the system and to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintenance.

If smelly water persists, Widmer said customers can contact LCU at 575-526-0500, and a technician will be dispatched.

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