Does Your Water Taste Bad Or Smell?
When you turn on the faucet, you expect the water to be clean, clear, and crisp with no smell or aftertaste. Unfortunately, that is not always the case for many homeowners. If your water has a bad smell and taste, it’s essential to determine the cause so you can have peace of mind knowing whether it’s a harmless annoyance or a potential health issue.
Several reasons could explain the bad tasting or smelly water, such as increased levels of sulfur, minerals and metals, chlorine, and bacteria. It can also be caused by pollution, chemicals, or sediment in the groundwater, bacteria, or even rusty water pipes. A simple water test will help determine if the problem causing the bad smell and taste is a health issue. It will also help isolate whether the foul odor and taste are from the water heater, faucet, pipes, well, or city water.
Rotten Eggs Smell
One of the most common water problems is a rotten egg smell. It is typically due to high levels of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur bacteria that naturally occur in the groundwater. When the sulfur travels through the pipes or sits in the water heater, a lack of oxygen converts it into a hydrogen sulfide gas. Turning on the faucet releases oxygen, which causes the foul odor. Since the smell can appear when the hydrogen sulfide level is as little as 0.5 parts per million (ppm), it is generally considered safe for consumption, although it has an unpleasant taste. However, it is essential to have a water test when it emits a rotten egg smell to confirm whether your water is in the safe range.
When there are trace metals in the water supply such as iron, copper, zinc, and manganese, it can have a metallic taste or odor. It’s often due to rusting iron or copper pipes that deliver the water from a well or city public water system. It may also be due to lead. Many older homes and businesses still have lead pipes that connect to the main water supply. When these pipes corrode, lead can enter the drinking water. Faucets that use brass, chrome plating, and plumbing soldered with lead can also cause the lead to leak into the water. A small amount of lead in the water is not dangerous, but high levels can be toxic. A water quality test will determine if unsafe levels of metals or contaminants, including lead, are present in your water supply.
Chlorine Taste and Odor
Water treatment facilities typically add chlorine to disinfect and kill bacteria, viruses, and parasites that may be in the water before it reaches homes and businesses. The water can have a chlorine smell that is similar to a swimming pool when it’s overchlorinated. Public water treatment plants may also add more chlorine than usual when testing reveals a higher presence of bacteria or parasites.
A musty or earthy taste and smell can indicate sediment in the groundwater or water pipes that made its way into the water supply. The water may have a gritty texture, and you may notice some residue on the bottom of a glass of water. Another potential source is an algal bloom or geosmin, which commonly grows on the surface of lakes, reservoirs, and other collection sources for the water supply. It has a soil-like texture, which can make your water taste like dirt. Sediment and bacteria can also collect in the aerator at the end of your faucet. Removing the aerator and cleaning out any sediment or bacteria residue can help resolve the issue.
Water that smells like a sewer often has a high concentration of bacteria due to decaying organic matter like food or soap sitting in the drain for some time. Since the smell usually appears when the flow of oxygen from turning on the faucet causes the bacteria gases in the drain to react, it can seem as if it’s coming out of the tap. When the bad odor only occurs when you use hot tap water, you probably have bacteria growing in the water heater. If the smell is very strong or pungent, you may have unsafe hydrogen sulfide levels, which typically smell like rotten eggs. You should have the water tested to make sure it is safe to consume.
Solve Your Bad Tasting or Smelly Water Problems
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