Rotten Eggs [Archive] - Ceramic Tile Advice Forums - John Bridge Ceramic Tile


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10-05-2007, 09:11 PM
I finished up grouting this job the other day. Upon returning to the bathroom the next day, it stunk like rotten eggs and has now lingered for about 4 days. No, no one had crapped in there yet.

Does anyone have any idea what would be causing this smell. It seems like it really got strong after wetting down the grout with a spray bottle.

The toilet is set and has water and I filled the shower drain trap with water to eliminate the possibility of it being the sewer. The sink drain is still capped.


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10-05-2007, 09:33 PM
could be your wax ring is not seated properly

10-05-2007, 09:53 PM
Rotten eggs??? Could you have a gas leak?

Where is the bathroom? Basement, second floor, gas station? :rolleyes:

10-06-2007, 06:11 PM
NCOR-- I set the toilet after the smell started, and the drain was sealed with a TKO.

CKL111-- No, there's no gas leak. Only the bathroom smells.

Obviously, no one else has had this problem. I know the well water in this house has sulfur in it, but is treated with the softener system. Possibly, trace amounts interacted with the grout chemicals??

No worries- I'm sure it will dissipate in a few days as the smell is already beginning to go away.

10-07-2007, 10:09 AM
Well the rotten egg smell sure sounds like hydrogen sulfide gas. Sulfur in the water .... sounds like a smoking gun to me. I can't remember the exact chemistry that makes this happen.

As far as I know, a water softener does not remove sulfur. What it removes is Calcium and Magnesium.

10-07-2007, 01:52 PM
Here's a good explaination about Hydrogen Sulfide:

Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)
Hydrogen sulfide gas odor (common described as a "rotten egg" smell) is a very difficult contaminant to quantify because it is a gas and escapes very quickly from the water. On-site testing is the only option for testing as the gas quickly precipitates out of solution. Concentrations as low as 0.5ppm can be detected by smell. Concentrations above 2-3ppm will all smell the same. Because of this lack of difference in smell at high concentrations, odor is not a good indication of how much is in the water but only presence or absence.

Hydrogen sulfide gas may be formed in several ways. Sulfur-reducing bacteria thrive in oxygen-deficient environments and are the primary producers of large quantities of hydrogen sulfide gas. These bacteria chemically change natural sulfates in water to hydrogen sulfide. Hydrogen sulfide may also be formed by the decomposition of underground deposits of organic matter such as decaying plant material. Occasionally, a hot water heater is a source of hydrogen sulfide odor because 1) the warm environment is conducive to sulfate-reducing bacteria if sulfates are present in the water and 2) the magnesium corrosion control (anode) rod present in many hot water heaters can chemically reduce naturally occurring sulfates to hydrogen sulfide.

High sulfate content detected in a water test is a good indicator of susceptibility to H2S. The EPA has a Secondary Standard (non-enforceable guideline regulating contaminants that may cause cosmetic effects or aesthetic effects including odor) of 250 mg/L for sulfate concentration. There is no EPA guideline for hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which clients find to be one of the most annoying contaminants.

Ask Good Water Company about well and household treatment for hydrogen sulfide odor!

10-07-2007, 07:37 PM
GHR- I appreciate the post, but my problem is not Hydrogen sulfide. The smell in this bathroom has persisted for days. Because Hydrogen Sulfide is a gas, it dissipates very quickly. Even is there is HS in the water, no way would wetting this grout down a week ago cause it to still smell.

Plus, the adjoining bathroom (or any other water source) has no smell. As well, the house is equipped with a Fleck electronic valve dual tank softener with both tanks housing CanPro MediaGuard carbon systems completely eliminating all rotten egg odor.

The only other possibility would be the sealer I used on the shower floor??


10-07-2007, 08:18 PM
Could be the drain traps not working right to prevent sewer gas from getting by.

AS for the sealer... smell it does it smell 'funny' in the bottle? If you have any left check it. I had a bottle of Tile Labs sealer that smelled like mildew water. Against my better judgement I used it. It didn't make any smells like you're having, but it's been less-than-effective as a sealer. I have to regrout the whole ~400sqft floor floor due to stains the sealer didn't repel.

10-07-2007, 08:25 PM
I used AquaMix Color Enhancing Sealer. It's got quite the strong smell, but it's not rotten egg smell.

See my earlier posts on the drains-- that's not the problem. I don't know-- I'll be sealing the grout this week. It'll be interesting to see if it kills the smell?


10-07-2007, 08:31 PM
Well mine was actually musty smelling. Like water that been enclosed in a container for a long time with no air.

If yours smells strong, but otherwise 'normal' than that's not the problem.

10-07-2007, 08:38 PM
Which catridge are you using with your whole-house filter?

The specs state "for trace amounts of sulfur(up to 1ppm) and iron-laden water(up to 2ppm) to use 6-cartridge version with 35.5" length and contains 5.4lbs of KDF 85 medium."

Here's the specsheet.

10-08-2007, 06:19 AM
I'm going to guess that your drain lines are improperly vented and your traps are being sucked dry. To test this use a small pitcher of water to slowly fill all the drains in the room. See if the smell goes away.


10-08-2007, 09:26 AM
GHR- Sulfur in the water is not the problem. There is no smell whatsoever in any other water source of the house, just in this bathroom. And to add to the mystery, the water that I filled the squirt bottle with was from an RO (reverse osmosis)-- zero smell. And again, even if there had been hydrogen sulfide in the water, it wouldn't be smelling a week later.

statjunk- when this problem began, all drain lines were TKO'ed so they were completely sealed. This is not the source of the problem. But, just to let you know, since this began, I installed the toilet and it has water in it and, after knocking out the TKO in the shower, I immediately filled the trap with water to keep out the gasses.

No, this problem has to be chemical in nature-- ??

10-10-2007, 11:41 AM
Creato - I just finished up a bathroom and I'm having the same problem you described. Again, everyone kept telling me that it was sewer gas even though it had been plumbed in for 5 months before the tile with no problems. If it wasn't sewer gas, they would tell me it had to be the water. First off, this house is on city water from Atlanta, and there is no indication that the water has any traces of sulfur. Second, to put the sewer people to rest, I put stoppers in all the drains and I ran water in the drain lines until it shot out of the vent on the top of the house proving there is no problem with the venting.

Ok, so if it isn't the sewer gas because I can still smell it when the drains are blocked, and there is no reportable water problem in the city of Atlanta, GA what else could it be? I know that the smell came after I grouted (the tile was set for days while I was on another job) so I'm 99% it has something to do with the grout. BTW it started before I used any grout sealer so that's not it either. I guess at this point I'd just like to know, Creato, if the smell eventually went away and what type of grout you were using. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will eventually go away.

10-10-2007, 12:16 PM
arge- ok, so I'm not a lunatic!
I used sanded grout by Custom Building Products, color was Linen, purchased at the orange box. The bag states it's "protected by moldguard technology". I wonder if that's it as this is the only grout I use and have never had a problem like this before. And ya know, the interesting thing is as I was getting the info off the bag I smelled inside the bag and it's quite reminiscent of the same smell in the bathroom?? (I don't know why I didn't check this before!)

Another thing, have you sealed your grout yet? I sealed just the shower floor this morning (4'x5' shower with 2"x2" floor tile) and I could swear the smell is not nearly as strong. (this answers your question too-- no it hasn't gone away as of yet). Hopefully after sealing the entire shower and bathroom floor I can finally tame this smell.

Keep me posted-

John Bridge
10-10-2007, 07:29 PM

Is this a shower you built from scratch? Is there another thread? Or is this an existing shower that's being re-worked?

10-10-2007, 07:44 PM
This is a remodel of two adjoining bathrooms. Walls have been reframed for better flow and to give more space to the master. The rooms were completely gutted and started from scratch, including new floor joists.


10-03-2009, 04:14 AM
We are having a sulphur odor as well in a newly installed project. The walls are crema marfil marble 5/8 mosaic and has been sealed. The smell started before sealing and is driving the homeowner crazy. She SWEARS the smell is from the tile and not a trap. we have installed the toilet twice. We are literally putting our noses to the walls all over the room to see where the smell is.

I don't think it's the tile; we put a sample of some leftover tile from the job in a plastic bag and no smell (the owner says that should have mo consideration because it's been in the garage and in the open air). I don't know whether we should regrout and see what happens. The smell is only where this mosaic is; no smell where the floor tile is (the floor tile carries into a closet with no smell).

Any updates with your project?

10-03-2009, 06:02 AM
Our problem finally went away after approx a year! Yes, it took that long for the smell to finally disipate. Never did find out what cuaused it other I do know it was the grout. Whether it was a chemical reaction with the well water at the house or bad grout, I don't know??

Good luck.

10-03-2009, 06:25 AM
Any chance you used some of that "Chinese" drywall in your remodel?

10-03-2009, 06:29 AM
If it's not the drywall it could be the glue on the backs of the mosaics,i've seen this, i've also smelled some of the premixed bags of floor mud, they smell like a sewer,try it some time.

10-03-2009, 10:23 AM
To FLASH407: What brand thinset and what brand grout did you use on this job?

10-04-2009, 06:26 PM
The area in question has a tub/shower and a toilet. The hardibacker in the tub area was replaced, as well as a small bot of Sheetrock. The mosaic is on all the walls in this room. The mosaic was installed with thin set and grout probably purchased at H Depot. I will check with the installer tomorrow. The Sheetrock is a very very slight risk of being from China. I think the grout is TexRight (?). I am about to take a sample to a lab to either rule or confirm the tile has trace sulphur that coul be releasing the gas.

My client is very upset with me (designer) about this and I am desparate to find a solution. If I told her that it might go away in a year, she would lose her mind.

10-04-2009, 06:42 PM
Flash, if you're going to a test lab, take some of the house water that was mixed with the grout as well.

flash- "no smell where the floor tile is "

So probably the same water, was the grout different manufacturer?

regrouting 5/8" mosaic would be really really no fun. Epoxy sealer?

Of course, if it's the Chineese drywall, the tile guy is off the hook. :yipee:

sorry to hear of your problems- keep us posted.

06-30-2011, 08:11 PM
Polyblend grout by Custom Building Products - if this is what you used - this is your problem. Just grouted a couple weeks ago with this grout and I have the same sulfur, rotten egg smell. I called Custom Building Products, and they said let it cure longer :blah:. They indicated it takes 28 days to cure. I don't think curing is the issue.

There are other posts on this website that address this same problem, with Polyblend grout. I am totally bummed after all the hard work I put into this tile job :bonk:. Custom Building Products will know me by first name if this problem does not go away soon.

06-30-2011, 09:51 PM
Joe (and everyone else who has this problem), check out this thread:

07-01-2011, 07:45 AM
To Stanleycupchamps:
Your smell most likely won't go away in a few days or even a few weeks. It took nearly 8 months for the smell in my bathroom to finally dissipate.

I haven't taken the time to research this problem in months, so don't know if Custom Building Products has done anything about this problem, but I no longer use their products, especially after they told me their product wasn't the source of the smell.

07-01-2011, 08:17 AM
Joe, I have a query in to the folks at CBP on this issue. I'll let y'all know if I learn anything of interest.

I've used a bunch of Polyblend grout over the years and have never experienced the problem, so I can't testify personally at all.

07-01-2011, 08:54 AM
Ive never had this happen to me with customs grout, but i will be waiting to hear back from CX... my clients just selected cbp grout for 2 showers and a lot of flooring, they are on well water too[ don't know yet if that matters ] but i am a little concerned now and might just switch the grout anyway, i hope you get some news soon CX......

07-01-2011, 10:46 AM
I posted this on the other thread linked above:
Seems there was a known problem in the southern part of the country for a time with a particular raw material (not a biological issue, it was a particular chemical in the grout), but it was thought the problem had long since been corrected. Maybe not. I hope there is no grout that old hanging around out there, but do be sure to check the date codes on what you purchase.

At the time of the known problem it was found that Hydrogen Peroxide would neutralize the odor. Y'all might wanna try that if it won't bother anything else around your grout. Use the concentrated stuff (30%?) or several applications with the wimpy 6% solution.

Joe (and others), call the CBP Technical Service number, 800-282-8786. By the time you call'em, they should be aware that some of y'all are still seeing the problem.

My opinion; worth price charged.

07-01-2011, 07:54 PM
Thanks to everyone for your responses. I am in touch with Home Depot, and they seem to be taking a proactive approach to solving the issue. They are contacting CBP on my behalf.

07-01-2011, 09:37 PM
Good luck, Joe. :)

You do recognize that those are the same folks who cannot tell you where to locate the metal lath in their own store, right? :shades:

07-01-2011, 10:12 PM
CX ... You bubble burster, you. :D

05-07-2012, 05:47 PM
Recently had a tile job done and having the same issue with the smell. After a few plumbers couldn't figure it all comes back to the grout. I tested a batch in a separate container and sure enough, the same smell that is happening in the masterbath.

So does the Hydrogen Peroxide neutralize it for good? How is it applied? Put it on and let it evaporate or wipe it off? Will it affect travertine tile at all?? I personally don't want to touch just the grout lines...way too much work if I can avoid that.

Thanks for the tips!!!
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