My Water Smells & Tastes Bad

Homeowners sometimes experience unpleasant odours in their household water. In many cases, the exact cause of the odour is difficult to determine without proper water testing; however, listed below are a few general recommendations for treating some common causes of household water odours. If water odour occurs in all water faucets, the problem is probably in the main water supply. If it occurs only in certain faucets, the problem is likely in the fixtures or pipes supplying those specific faucets. If the problem goes away after running the water for a few minutes, the problem is somewhere in the household plumbing system. If the odour is persistent, the problem could be the water source or a combination of both the water source and the plumbing system. Listed below are some of the most common water odours and their source:

1. Bleach, Chemical or Medicinal Odour

Public water suppliers generally chlorinate water to prevent bacterial growth. Typical levels of free chlorine in drinking water from PWS are 0.2 - 2.0 parts per million (ppm), though levels can be as high as 5.0 ppm. Odours resulting from a chlorine addition usually go away if the water is exposed to air for several minutes. Adding chlorine to the water through shock chlorination of a well or plumbing system produces a strong bleach (chlorine) odor. The bleach smell stops when chlorine completely dissipates. This requires turning on outside faucets and letting the water run until the smell is gone. In some cases, the added chlorine may interact with organic materials built up in the plumbing system and add odor to the water. The odour should disappear after running the water for a few minutes. If water is supplied by your own well and the problem appears to be in your plumbing and/or well systems, then your entire water system should be flushed.

2. Rotten Eggs (Sulfurous), Decayed or Sewage-like Odour

Generally, a rotten egg (or sulfurous), decayed or sewage-like odour in household water is a result of bacterial activity, which can be due to bacteria growing in the drain. This is the most common cause of these types of odours. Over time, organic matter such as hair, soap and food waste can accumulate on the walls of the drain. These deposits serve as a food for bacteria to grow. The bacteria can produce a gas that smells like rotten eggs or sewage. Address this problem by following these two steps:

  1. First, ensure that both the cold and hot water have the smell and that the smell is coming out of one or several faucets, but not all. Fill a glass with water from the sink that has the smell, then step away from the sink and swirl the water around inside the glass few times. If the problem is in the drain, the tap water in the glass should not have an odour.
  2. If the water in the glass does not smell, you should disinfect and flush the drain. Although these odours are harmless, the human senses of taste and smell are extremely sensitive even at a very low level. These kinds of odours may be due to:

3. Musty, Moldy, Earthy, Grassy or Fishy Odour

  • Decaying organic matter in the drain
  • Pollution of well water from surface drainage

4. Petroleum, Gasoline, Turpentine, Fuel-like or Solvent-like Odour

Even though these odor problems are rare, they are potentially serious. These odors may be due to:

  • A leaking fuel tank or underground fuel storage tank near your well
  • Discharge from factories or landfills contaminating the water supply
  • Run-off from agriculture contaminating the water supply 

With all of these water odours you should call Eagle Water Treatment Systems to have you water professionally evaluated. We offer complimentary water evaluation to all of our customers and with the proper testing we will determine the best course of action to provide you with the proper water treatment system.