Ah, water. The only consumable that you want to be odorless and tasteless. Anything else is, well, gross and a sign that something is really wrong. While many smells in your tap water are short-term nuisances, if left untreated they can become expensive long-term problems.
My water smells like rotten eggs
Yuck. That rotten egg smell most likely comes from bacteria growing at some point along your water’s journey from the source to the tap. Organic matter plus the moisture and low light conditions of a water system provide ideal conditions for bacterial growth. These bacteria can produce Hydrogen sulfide gas, which is trapped in your water as it moves through your plumbing system and released once you turn on the tap.
The best way to diagnose the issue is to run the water glass test. Run your tap and fill a glass with water. Take the glass of water away from your sink and let it sit. After a few minutes, swirl it around in the glass and give it a whiff, or a drink. If it smells and tastes fine, the source of the bacteria is likely directly in your sink’s drain or upper plumbing, caused by a build-up of food waste, soap scum or other organic matter. Flushing it a few times with a strong drain cleaner should help alleviate the odor.
If your glass of water continues to smell like rotten eggs, your water heater or water source may be to blame. Many electric hot water heaters contain a magnesium corrosion control rod that converts natural sulfates found in your water into smelly hydrogen sulfide gas. If you notice that only your hot water produces this smell, the likely culprit is your water heater. If both hot water and cold water fail the water glass test, the issue is likely deep in your water source and you may need to call in some experts to help you assess the root cause.
While the rotten egg smell may be disgusting, the good news is that it’s usually harmless to your health.
My water smells musty or moldy
If your tap water has a musty, earthy smell it could be from decaying organic matter in your drain or plumbing, or contamination of your water source. Try the water glass test noted above and follow the same steps. If the musty smell goes away after a few minutes, give your drains and plumbing a good clean and flush. (Dirty drains and pipes happen to the best of us). If the smell remains after a few minutes, it’s likely from decaying matter within your water source. Contact your local water officials or call a private well professional.
My water smells like chlorine
Municipalities use small amounts of chlorine to make sure your water is safe to drink. Typically, this does not impact the appearance, taste or smell of water. But occasionally, the small amounts of chlorine in municipal water can interact with gunk already stuck in your drains and cause a lingering chlorine smell. Similar to above, let your tap run for a few minutes, do the water glass test and then see if the smell is still there. If the smell persists or it is so strong that you can’t drink it, call your local water provider or a well water professional for help.
My water smells like something else
Unfortunately, there are many causes of water contamination. The ones listed above are the most common and are typically harmless to your health. However, if your water smells like petroleum or gasoline, or an extremely strong chemical, contact your local health department or a private well service provider immediately. These smells could be a sign that your water source has been contaminated by a leaking fuel source, industrial waste or agricultural runoff. These contaminants can be hazardous to your health and should be addressed immediately.
What’s the solution?
The best way to make sure that your water is as clean, odorless and tasteless as you want it to be is to install a whole-home water purification system. Our whole-home systems can help remove the minerals, chlorine, and bacteria that can lead to many home water challenges, like irksome mineral and bacterial build-up. You’ll cut-down on cleaning time across your whole home and can rest assured that you have pure, clean water running from your taps.
Interested in taking the first step? Schedule your FREE in-home water test today.