The Cistern Water Stinks: What Could Be The Reason?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:52 pm

If you operate a cistern to use it to supply the house with service water or water the garden, this is a useful idea. Thanks to the cistern you become more independent of the water supply, save costs and do not let the valuable water simply sink into the ground.

This positive opinion about the cistern could turn into the opposite if you suddenly notice that there is a strong smell coming from the water. Why does the smell occur and what can you do about it?

Why the cistern starts to stink

The Cistern Water Stinks: What Could Be The Reason?

The cistern is placed under the ground, but of course this space is not completely independent of external influences. When it rains, the water from the roof of the house is directed into the cistern to fill it.

However, not only the desired water enters the cistern with the rain. Other substances also cause contamination, which in the long term represents a high load. These are mainly leaves and organic residues, such as bird droppings, which enter the cistern via the rainwater.

If you have neglected the cleaning of the cistern so far, this will manifest itself in the fact that putrefactive bacteria will find the best growth conditions. Similar to the pool, you should therefore make sure that the bacteria are combated. Otherwise, the anaerobic putrefactive bacteria will ensure that any amount of hydrogen sulfide will result in a rotten egg smell. The cistern water stinks and sometimes you notice it in your own body.

The stinky cistern water may hardly affect you directly. After all, the cistern is located somewhat out of the way and the smell hardly enters the house. That this does not correspond to the reality and you should do something against the stinking water you notice then if you use a pump for the cistern or a house water automat.

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If you use the water in the cistern, for example, to wash your laundry or as service water for the shower, the strong odor will be clearly noticeable there. The smell will settle even in your clothes, which will lead to unpleasant encounters.

Do not neglect the cistern and do not let the putrefactive bacteria get the upper hand. With simple means, you will take care of the cistern so that you avoid odor pollution.

What can you do about the stinky cistern water?

How can you treat the cistern so that the stinky odor no longer occurs and you can use the water undisturbed? You should follow the following tips to get back a drinkable water.

Avoid contamination

Regenrinne - Filter

The cistern should be designed so that coarse impurities do not enter it. A basis for this is a functioning cover and a strong shell. If there are cracks or holes in the cover, the coarse dirt will get into the water and create an ideal food source for putrefactive bacteria to grow. Provide the cistern with a suitable cover to avoid at least the coarsest influences.

You should also carry out cleaning for the regular water that enters the cistern from the roof. This is best done if you use an appropriate filter. This prevents dirt from entering the cistern through the gutter after a heavy rain shower. Filters need to be cleaned regularly, but will save you a lot of work and expense in the long run.

Pond aerator

What is a risk for the pond is also important for the cistern. Responsible for the odor in the cistern are anaerobic bacteria, which feel most comfortable in oxygen-poor water.

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To prevent the bacteria from spreading, it is advisable to install a pond aerator. This keeps the water in motion and the required oxygen is absorbed via the bubbling stone. This will inhibit the growth of anaerobic bacteria and promote a healthier microbiome. Use a simple pond pump for this purpose to achieve the necessary water circulation.

Use additives

Similar to pool water, there is also a recommendation for the cistern to use various additives to purify the water. Which means achieve the desired effect depends on whether you use the water only as service water, for example, for flushing toilets, or whether you also use it for watering the garden.

If you use the water for the garden, the additive must be biologically compatible for soil and plants. This can be achieved with simple additives that introduce microorganisms into the cistern. These restore the natural balance. With more intensive cleaning, the aerobic and harmless microorganisms prevail, so you get a clean water. In addition, the additives can improve the quality of water in terms of irrigation. It is not only biologically compatible, but also promotes the plant soil.

For pure service water, you can resort to other additives. For this purpose, there are agents that directly attack the putrefactive bacteria. However, they also act against fungi as well as algae. Due to the higher aggressiveness, this agent is not suitable for the garden. However, in a very short time the service water returns to its old freshness and the odor no longer appears.

The clean cistern

If you notice that the water in the cistern begins to stink, you should not simply ignore it. It is often an indication that too much putrefactive bacteria is spreading and the water is in danger of tipping over. If you do not take action against it, the smell will become more intense over time and will be noticeable during use. Due to impurities, the putrefactive bacteria get a good base and emit the stinking hydrogen sulfide.

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In order for the cistern to no longer be perceived as an odor nuisance, you should prevent the penetration of impurities from the outset. For this purpose, it is advisable to install filters. With various additives, you will deal with the specific odor.

Follow these tips, and your cistern will no longer stink and will be safe from the strong pollution in the future.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts. Jones James

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